By Mitzpeh Staff
Photo credit: Wikipedia
As Jews, the holiest and most important place we can visit is Jerusalem. We go to the Kotel and place notes or pictures of our loved ones in the wall’s cracks. It is something every Jew must experience in his or her lifetime.
But last week, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) made a resolution using only the Arabic language terms for the site. The resolution created rules for the preservation and restoration of parts of Jerusalem, both of which are positive plans. Then, this week, the United Nations cultural body backed UNESCO in a secret vote that retained the resolution.
However, the huge issue comes in UNESCO referring to the Kotel only by its Muslim name, according to The Jerusalem Post. This wording indicates a level of anti-Semitism in the organization that cannot be tolerated. The decision also denied the connection between the Temple Mount and Judaism, which Israel has responded to by cutting ties with UNESCO.
The fact that intolerance for any group can be so obviously expressed in this day and age is very troublesome. And the implication that UNESCO is favoring Palestine’s side of the Israel-Palestine conflict is disappointing when shown through such obvious language choice. The site is important not only for Jews, but for Muslims as well. Even Christians believe it is a holy place. It is understandable that Jews and Muslims should share access to their respective sites in Jerusalem. But it should be an inclusive area. By cutting out Jewish ties, UNESCO is effectively saying that Israel’s connection to the Temple Mount is invalid and should not be treated with respect.
In no way should a place as historically relevant as Jerusalem not be tied to all groups that believe in its importance. Regardless of which religious group UNESCO left out, it’s completely unfair of them to completely ignore one’s history in favor of another’s. It would be equally as egregious for UNESCO to devalue the Temple Mount also from either Christianity or Islam’s perspective. UNESCO needs to look at each religious group equally, and it fails to do so here.
On a positive note, most European countries either abstained from or voted against this resolution, according to The Jerusalem Post. The U.S. and the U.K. voted against the decision, an encouraging sign that they are being true to their ally, Israel. However, the idea that more countries abstained than voted for or against is worrisome in that they don’t believe this is an important enough matter to take part. It is an issue that most countries don’t see the importance of the issue to either or both religious groups, thus choosing to let other countries decide instead of taking a stand.
In any case, the importance of the Temple Mount to Jews cannot be ignored. Unfortunately, UNESCO’s resolution confirms a lack of equal focus on each religious group occupying Jerusalem, which is a failure on the shoulders of an important and powerful global group.