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Thursday, 20 October 2016 10:33

Under the title “An Affront” the Op-Ed of the WJC President Ronald S. Lauder was published on the German newspaper DIE ZEIT (issue of October 20, 2016). Here under we publish the English translation:

The United Nations cannot erase Jewish history.

But last week, UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization whose task it is to protect world heritage sites, tried to do just that.
UNESCO’s Executive Board adopted a text which completely ignores the Jewish link to Judaism’s holiest site, the Temple Mount. Instead, it is referred to as “Al-Aqṣa Mosque/Al-Ḥaram Al-Sharif and its surroundings.”

The square in front of the Western Wall, where thousands of Jews pray every day, is referred to as the “Al-Buraq Plaza”. The resolution also blames Israel, which it calls “the occupying power”, for a number of alleged “aggressions” in the Old City of Jerusalem and at other Islamic holy sites.

For the Jewish people, the Temple Mount is a sacred site where memory, tradition, and faith are sown in the very soil. It was King David who established Jerusalem as the first capital of the Jewish people three thousand years ago.
In other words, Temple Mount was already the holiest place of Judaism long before the advent of Christianity or Islam. To deny the Jewish link to this site is therefore akin to denying the Holocaust. It is an act of anti-Semitism.
Since 1967, when Israel gained control of the Old City of Jerusalem, the Jewish state has ensured that all major religions with ties to the city enjoy access to their respective holy sites. From 1948 to 1967, under Jordanian rule, Jews could not pray at the Western Wall.
The UNESCO decision was a deliberate and outrageous affront not just to the Jewish people, but to all those who value the vital role of historical truth in navigating current global issues.

Twenty-four of the 58 member countries who sit on the Executive Board voted in favor of this text, including Brazil, China and Russia. Only six opposed it, among them Britain, Germany and the United States.

Many others abstained, including France, Italy, Spain, and Sweden. However, a vote of abstention is a vote of silence. And instead of being silent, countries should have spoken out against such a travesty.

For Jews, these abstentions carry an extra sting. In our history, we have far too often witnessed the staggering costs of silence. We have experienced the pain of a world that looks away when anti-Semitism lurches forward.
Imagine the international outrage if the Church of the Holy Sepulcher were to be declared an Islamic site. But when it comes to Israel and to Jews, too many countries just remain silent.

In 1946, Winston Churchill expressed his hope that the United Nations would come to be a “true temple of peace.”
For the United Nations to fulfil its potential and become a temple of peace, it must start by reversing its outrageous erasure of the Jewish people’s ties to the Temple Mount.

The statements from UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova and the outgoing UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon are welcome. Other world leaders must do the same.

This decision must be rescinded. The credibility of the international community is at stake.



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