Politicians on Right and Left rail against UNESCO vote leaving out Jewish history on Temple Mount.
Those who deny the Jewish connection to Jerusalem and the Temple Mount are simply embarrassing themselves President Reuven Rivlin, a seventh generation Jerusalemite, said on Thursday.
Rivlin was speaking to children decorating the sukkah at his official residence, in advance of the projected UNESCO vote on a Palestinian resolution to rewrite history and ignore the fact that Jews made pilgrimages to the Temple in Jerusalem long before the advent of Islam.
Rivlin recalled that when he was a boy prior to the establishment of the state, he used to accompany his father to the Western Wall before the recitation of the final Yom Kippur prayers, so that they could hear the shofar at the conclusion of the service.
Today, he said, there is an attempt to silence the shofar. “It’s not that they don’t want to hear it. They just don’t want us there,” he said of Wakf and UNESCO attempts to remove the Jewish presence from Jerusalem.
After the vote, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the decision was a continuation of the “theater of the absurd” at UNESCO, and suggested that soon the body would claim that the arch of Titus in Rome, depicting the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 A.D., is a piece of Zionist propaganda.
“However, I believe that the historical truth is stronger, and that it will prevail,” he said.
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein said “the Jewish People have an unequivocal connection to our holy places. UNESCO and the UN have no connection to history or reality. “Unfortunately, again and gain we see the irrelevance of the UN and its institutions. This decision is a message to the inciters and the rewriters of history who are working tirelessly with hatred. Thousands of votes won’t erase the Jewish People’s close ties to our holy sites and the Western Wall,” he added.
Interior Minister Arye Deri said “UNESCO turned itself into an organization that shames the UN. “If Jews have no connection to the Western Wall, the UNESCO has no connection to education, science and culture,” he added.
Social Equality Minister Gila Gamliel called the resolution “a combination of stupidity and antisemitism.” “Let me suggest a few more resolutions for UNESCO: The moon is made of cheese, Jews have horns, the Tanach doesn’t exist and UNESCO is a committee for denying Jewish heritage. Though, come to think of it, the final suggestion isn’t so crazy,” she quipped.
Gamliel said it is not only ridiculous for UNESCO to try to deny the past, but it is also destroying chances for hope, peace and coexistence in the future. “Only the world and the Palestinians’ recognition of Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish State will create hope for a shared future with respect between neighbors,” she stated.
Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev called the UNESCO decision “embarrassing and antisemitic.” “If this is UNESCO’s standards, then all the World Heritage Sites need to be reexamined,” she stated. “The choice of the Palestinians’ false and baseless narrative over historic facts puts UNESCO in a ridiculous light.”
Regev added that, “regardless of UNESCO, the Temple Mount will remain the holiest place in Judaism and that Jews from around the world will make their pilgrimage to it on Sukkot next week, like they do every year and as they did in the days of the First and Second Temple.”
Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to strengthen the Jewish presence on the Temple Mount as the holiest place in Judaism.
“The government must demand the nations of the world to condemn the antisemitic decision and immediately stop funding the UN under which UNESCO spreads its messages,” he said.
Opposition leader Isaac Herzog (Zionist Union) said UNESCO betrayed its mission and gave a bad name to international institutions.
“Whoever wants to rewrite history, to distort facs, and to completely invent the fantasy that the Western Wall and Temple Mount have no connection to the Jewish people, is telling a terrible lie that only serves to increase hatred. On this matter there is no disagreement among the people of Israel, and I urge UNESCO to withdraw this bizarre resolution and to engage in protecting, not distorting, human history,” Herzog stated.
MK Tzipi Livni (Zionist Union) placed the blame for the UNESCO vote on the government, saying that Israel’s diplomatic situation has never been worse.
“The resolution is shameful and meant to pressure Israel and try to erase the proven historic connection between the Jewish People and the Temple Mount and Western Wall,” she wrote on Twitter.
In a letter to UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova, Livni argued that the resolution was turning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict into a religious one.
“This resolution, while claiming to maintain the administrative status quo, in fact changes it,” by bringing in a religious element, Livni wrote. “I sincerely feel that this resolution brings us no closer to a just and agreed-upon solution. We can argue and critique policies, but when it comes to the historical facts connecting the Jewish People to these holy sites, there can be no politics.”
“It is my hope that the international community can arrive at an understanding of the distinction between religious, national histories and contemporary politics,” she concluded.
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said the UNESCO decision is “as absurd as disconnecting Christianity from the Vatican or Islam from Mecca.”
“UNESCO claims there’s no connection between the Kotel and Judaism; I say there’s no connection between UNESCO and reality,” he stated.
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said the UN is “breaking its own records of ignorance, antisemitism and irrelevance. An organization that claims to represent education and science for the UN is representing rotten politics and is ruled by Islamic dictatorships.”
MK Yehuda Glick (Likud), known for his activism for Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount, said he plans to hold an emergency conference in the Knesset in the coming weeks to encourage Jews to visit the holy site and he will work to cancel the prohibition against MKs ascending the Mount.
Simon Wiesenthal Center Dean and Associate Dean Rabbis Marvin Hier and Abraham Cooper denounced the resolution, saying it “has one motivation – to try to erase the Jewish People’s age-old links to its holiest sites.
“Should the resolution pass, it will have the immediate impact of encouraging and validating more Palestinian terror attacks on Israeli civilians,” they added.
European Jewish Congress (EJC) President Dr. Moshe Kantor slammed the resolution, saying: “Unfortunately, truth and history have become the latest victims in the UN’s hostilities towards Israel and the Jewish People. This vote is purely an attempt to eradicate the Jewish People from the pages of history.”
“If there is no Jewish connection to Jerusalem then there is obviously no Jewish People or history. All nations which didn’t vote against this unprecedentedly absurd and dishonest resolution will now wear the ‘mark of Cain’ as a result.”
Kantor said the resolution, which refers to holy sites in Jerusalem only by their Muslim names, is also an affront to Christians worldwide, and called it “cultural terrorism.”