UUNESCO attempts to disconnect Israel from the Temple Mount in new resolution
Deborah Porter, Foreign Policy Contributor
To those of you familiar with the United Nations, it should come as no surprise that UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), a body dedicated to “building peace in the minds of men and women,” recently passed a resolution against Israel’s access to the Temple Mount. In fact, Israel itself is typically not surprised by yet another anti-Semitic resolution against them. They have long since lost hope UNESCO actually works towards their peace. However, the content of this resolution has served to surprise even the most cynical of Israelis. UNESCO’s resolution, passed October 13th, 2016, indicates that the Temple Mount is a site only important to Muslims, denying the importance of the site to Jews and Christians. In fact, the terminology used in the resolution names the site with the Muslim names of Al-Aqsa Mosque and Haram al-Sharif, forgoing the common Jewish name Har HaBayit, better known as the Temple Mount to English speakers. The fact that this resolution fails to recognize Israel’s claim to their own land is absurd.
Israel has an interesting history with both European nations and the United Nations concerning their own land. While both associations should be advocating for the sovereignty of the nation, they instead persist in denying Israel the right given to Palestine, who is not a nation and therefore cannot have sovereignty. In 2011, Palestine was added as a member to the UNESCO, resulting in the immediate termination of US funding. Since the US typically donated about 22% of the UNESCO budget every year, the organization immediately found themselves in a crisis, forcing the international body to begin removing programs. Five years later, it seems the United States was right to end funding, since the organization appears to have lost all sense. To repeat the words of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu,
Sadly, both China and Egypt voted in favor of the resolution, Egypt being one of the main sponsors.
The nations who voted for the resolution will tell you that Israel caused violence and strife within the Temple Mount, and for that reason UNESCO denounced Israel’s connection to the area. However, the truth is Israel has been denying access to Israelis wanting to worship at the site for many years, due to the violence it caused. However, Israel cannot deny the deep connection both Christians and Jews have to the site, and have continued to allow Jews to enter the area, just not for worship and prayer. The Israeli Foreign Ministry, in attempts to stop the resolution, produced brochures documenting the archeological findings and historical evidence at the Temple Mount. Unfortunately, in a body so far removed from reality and fact, this evidence was only able to swing some European nations to abstain, making the resolution pass by less than a majority, but pass nonetheless. The United States, UK, Netherlands, Lithuania, Germany, and Estonia were the only nations to vote against the resolution, where more nations abstained than voted yes.
Some people who look at the resolution will approach it with the attitude of “Who cares? Israel does what they want.” While this has an element of truth to it, the theme behind it indicates that Israel will not be bothered by the resolution. On the contrary, international legislation passed by the European Union has shown otherwise. In the West Bank, the EU built homes against Israel’s policies, which indicate any building built in the West Bank, no matter who built it, is not authorized to build there and their structures will be demolished. As a result, Israel has taken down many EU buildings, mostly at the expense of European nations. So a resolution as such should never passed without uproar and complaint, no matter how commonplace the resolutions are. The United States is in the right to remove funding from UNESCO, as should all other nations who want their taxpayers’ money to be spent well.
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