FRESH AIR

UPDATES

When historical facts become unacceptable – the effects of UNESCO Resolutions on Jerusalem

Feb 2, 2017 | Shmuel Levin

When historical facts become unacceptable - the effects of UNESCO Resolutions on Jerusalem
news_item/jerusalem-1120372_960_720.jpg

Shmuel Levin

 

“It’s clear as the sun is clear that the Temple [in Jerusalem] which was demolished by the Romans, is a Jewish temple.”

Seems straightforward, doesn’t it?

Yet, in today’s post-truth world, such historical facts are no longer acceptable in some official Palestinian circles.

The above statement about the Jewish Temple was made by United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres in comments to Israel Public Radio. 

Guterres also stated that “no one can deny the fact that Jerusalem is holy to three religions today”. 

Yet, in response, Adnan al-Husseini, the Palestinian Authority’s Jerusalem Affairs Minister, demanded that Guterres “issue an apology to the Palestinian people”. Similarly, the Deputy Secretary of the Fatah Revolutionary Council, Faiz Abu Ita, stated on Palestinian Authority Television that Guterres’ comments were “infuriating” and “unjustified” from “ethical, humanitarian, and political” standpoints.

Further, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Assistant Ahmed Majdalani also criticized Guterres for lacking “cultural knowledge”. Majdalani claimed “the statement is a strike to the credibility of the UN as a global organization that should stay to the side of the occupied people and be against the power of the occupation.”

It seems then, that the United Nations’ support for the Palestinians is now expected to include the denial of basic historical facts.

Even the Muslim Waqf, which has long overseen Islamic activities on the site, produced a booklet in 1925 stating that the Temple Mount’s “identity with the site of Solomon’s Temple is beyond dispute.” The booklet then quotes the Biblical book of Samuel II indicating that it is also the spot, “according to universal belief, on which ‘David built there an altar unto the L-rd…'” In fact, the Quran itself references the Jewish Temple, and Islamic sources have acknowledged that its location was in Jerusalem.

This is not to say that Palestinian revisionism is unheard of. In 2001, the then Mufti of Jerusalem, a cleric appointed by Yasser Arafat, stated that “there isn’t even a single stone in the Old City of Jerusalem that is Jewish,” and that “there is no proof at all that the Jews were ever in Jerusalem.”

More recently, since 2015, the Palestinians began a drive to change the language with which UNESCO refers to the Temple Mount area. After failing to have it declared a solely Muslim site, they submitted resolutions on Jerusalem “at every possible UNESCO meeting”, using only the Muslim name for the site.

This strategy brought success in a resolution approved by UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee in October 2016. While the resolution briefly acknowledged the “importance of the Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls for the three monotheistic religions”, it made no mention of Jewish ties to the Temple Mount, and exclusively referred to the holy site by the name it is known in Islam, the Al-Aqsa Mosque/ Al-Haram Al-Sharif. 

While some commentators have sought to downplay the significance of the UNESCO resolution, on grounds that it “commits the sin of omission, not of commission”, it appears that the Palestinian leadership does not see it this way. In al-Husseini’s attack on Guterres, he claimed that Guterres had “ignored UNESCO’s decision that considered the Al-Aqsa mosque of pure Islamic heritage”.

All for simply stating a historical fact, which no serious expert, or historian disputes.

There are then two takeaways here. First, one-sided UNESCO resolutions are not just words, but can carry repercussions down the track that can make achieving a genuine two-state peace harder.

Second, Palestinian leadership single-mindedness on this issue no longer takes account of basic historical truths, insisting that the narrative of an “occupied people” take precedence over mere facts. This is yet another blow to peace hopes, which rely on both sides being willing to concede some legitimacy and rights to the other party.

Tags:

RELATED ARTICLES


Israeli PM Naftali Bennett (R); Alternative PM and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid (C) and Defence Minister Benny Gantz  (L) (Photo: Noam Moscowitz / Knesset spokesperson)

Some key points to understand about the dissolution of Israel’s Government

Jun 22, 2022 | Featured, Fresh AIR, Resources
Image: Shutterstock

Unhealthy obsessions return to the annual World Health Organisation assembly – yet there are signs of positive change

Jun 17, 2022 | Featured, Fresh AIR
IAEA head Rafael Mariano Grossi briefs the press on Iran (Image: Dean Calma/Flickr)

IAEA Board rebukes Iran, Iran unplugs IAEA cameras

Jun 10, 2022 | Featured, Fresh AIR
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and head of Iran's Atomic Organisation Mohammad Eslami (R) speaking to media during a visit to Bushehr nuclear power plant, in the city of Bushehr, southern Iran, 8 October 2021. (Image: EPA/AAP)

New revelations: Iran apparently spied on the UN nuclear watchdog

Jun 2, 2022 | Featured, Fresh AIR
Al Jazeera's Ahmed Mansour (Screenshot)

Al Jazeera hearts anti-Israel terrorism (continued)

May 30, 2022 | Featured, Fresh AIR
Shireen Abu Akleh

Tragedy of journalist’s death exploited to intensify conflict

May 17, 2022 | Featured, Fresh AIR
While Iran's economy is currently in poor shape, estimates are that a nuclear deal could provide Teheran with up to US$275 billion within a year and US$800 billion over five years (Image: motioncenter, Shutterstock)

International implications of Iran’s economic unrest

May 31, 2022 | Update
Hezbollah does not hide its open affiliation with Iran - as these Hezbollah youth demonstrate - but the Middle Easterners are tired of the poverty, war and chaos that Iranian proxies bring to the countries they operate in. (Photo: nsf2019, Shutterstock)

Election setback for Hezbollah

May 21, 2022 | Update
Shireen Abu Akleh, the well-known Al Jazeera journalist who was killed during a firefight between Palestinians and the IDF in Jenin under unclear circumstances on Wednesday, May 11 (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Controversy follows tragic death of journalist Shireen Abu Akleh

May 13, 2022 | Update
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Italian TV: "Hitler also had Jewish blood. It means absolutely nothing…the most ardent antisemites are usually Jews." (Photo: YouTube screenshot)

The implications of Israel’s recent spat with Russia

May 7, 2022 | Update
Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov hosts Iran's Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian in January: A new Iran nuclear deal would be a boon to Russia and allied anti-democratic forces (Photo: ITAR-TASS News Agency / Alamy Stock Photo)

Are the Iran nuclear talks deadlocked?

Apr 29, 2022 | Update
Supporters of Hamas and Islamic Jihad gather in Khan Yunis, Gaza, on April 8 to celebrate the attack on a Tel Aviv bar by Raad Hazem (Photo: ZUMA Press, Inc. / Alamy Stock Photo)

Incitement and the latest terror wave in Israel

Apr 14, 2022 | Update

SIGN UP FOR AIJAC EMAILS

RECENT POSTS

(Source: Pixabay)

AIJAC welcomes Victorian swastika ban, and introduction of similar NSW legislation

Naftali Bennett (R), Yair Lapid (L) and former Israeli President Reuven Rivlin (credit:Haim Tzach / GPO)

AIJAC’s Ahron Shapiro and Ran Porat interviewed on Israeli political developments on ABC NewsRadio

Israeli PM Naftali Bennett (R); Alternative PM and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid (C) and Defence Minister Benny Gantz  (L) (Photo: Noam Moscowitz / Knesset spokesperson)

Some key points to understand about the dissolution of Israel’s Government

Former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay (Image: UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré)

Israel and the UN: How the world’s only Jewish state has been scapegoated

Image: Shutterstock

Unhealthy obsessions return to the annual World Health Organisation assembly – yet there are signs of positive change

(Source: Pixabay)

AIJAC welcomes Victorian swastika ban, and introduction of similar NSW legislation

Naftali Bennett (R), Yair Lapid (L) and former Israeli President Reuven Rivlin (credit:Haim Tzach / GPO)

AIJAC’s Ahron Shapiro and Ran Porat interviewed on Israeli political developments on ABC NewsRadio

Israeli PM Naftali Bennett (R); Alternative PM and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid (C) and Defence Minister Benny Gantz  (L) (Photo: Noam Moscowitz / Knesset spokesperson)

Some key points to understand about the dissolution of Israel’s Government

Former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay (Image: UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré)

Israel and the UN: How the world’s only Jewish state has been scapegoated

Image: Shutterstock

Unhealthy obsessions return to the annual World Health Organisation assembly – yet there are signs of positive change

SORT BY TOPICS