The UNESCO resolution

Fredy Winkler

EN17 0127The UNESCO resolution launched by Jordan and the Palestinians concerning the holy sites in Jerusalem, especially the Temple Mount and the Wailing Wall, has stirred up quite a dust storm, not only in Israel but also internationally as well. In the resolution, the Temple Mount is referred to only by the Arabic name, “al Haram al Sharif,” and the Wailing Wall is called the “Buraq” Wall.

Israel saw the resolution as a clear attempt to bury the historical connection of the Jewish people to their holiest place, the Temple Mount. This is already apparent on the grounds there. As I recently led a study group on a tour of the Temple Mount and told the people about it, an Arab security guard suddenly appeared and told me in a harsh voice, “If you say the words ‘Temple Mount’ one more time, I’ll throw you out of here. This is not the Temple Mount, it’s ‘al Haram al Sharif.’”

Similar developments have been noted at other religious-historic sites, such as the grave of Rachel. Prior to 1990, this site was referred to as the grave of Rachel in the Palestinian school books, but since then it has been called the “Mosque of Bilal Ibn Rabah,” the first muezzin (caller to prayer) of Mohammed.

This rewriting of history is not only an attack on Jewish history; it’s also an insult to the Islamic historical record, which has already documented the grave of Bilal Ibn Rabah in Damascus, and has always called the grave in Bethlehem the “Grave of Mother Rachel.”

One commentator wrote, “This resolution isn’t about protecting the cultural heritage, it’s about replacing it by rewriting history. It’s like a modern pogrom against Jewish history, a campaign that’s trying to reinvent Jewish history and thus negate the historic connection of the Jewish people to their land.”

The stated purpose of UNESCO is supposedly to build peace among all people. Attempting to deny reality and facts and ignoring thousands of years of history will not lead to peace. It is precisely this negative mindset that poisons and worsens the relationship between Israel and the Palestinians.

Nir Barkat, the mayor of Jerusalem, said, “The UNESCO resolution is just as absurd as saying that the Catholic Church has nothing to do with the Vatican, or that Islam has nothing to do with Mecca. If UNESCO says there is no connection between Jews and the Wailing Wall, then I can only say, ‘UNESCO has utterly lost its grip on reality.’”

Even Irina Bokova, the General Director of UNESCO, sharply condemned the resolution and spoke about the importance of recognizing and respecting the long historic connection that the three religions, Islam, Christianity and Judaism, have to that site.

Last but not least, Pope Francis declared in a public speech, “God promised that land to the people of Israel.” Ayoub Kara, an Israeli minister, thanked the pope personally for his statement. He told reporters, “I felt that the pope’s statement was a direct message to UNESCO, as they are attempting to negate the connection between the Jewish people and the Temple Mount.”

Thank God that above all, the declarations and promises of God are written in the Bible. For those of us who believe the Word of God, it’s fascinating to see how Jerusalem, in particular the Temple Mount, is increasingly becoming a stumbling block for all peoples, especially for the surrounding Islamic nations.

In the knowledge that God has always worked in all things, including UNESCO resolutions, so that His will might be fulfilled, Shalom!

News From Israel - 12/2016

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