Netanyahu mocks UNESCO motion on Temple Mount: Like denying bond between Batman and Robin
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) passed a draft resolution on Thursday that maintains that the Western Wall and Temple Mount will be referred to by their Arabic names. The Hebrew terms for the holy sites will only appear in quotation marks in UN references.
The resolution was supported by 24 states, with six countries opposed and 26 abstaining in the vote that received massive condemnation in Israel. The draft resolution, submitted by Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, and Sudan, will be referred to UNESCO’s executive board for formal approval next week.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu unleashed a barrage of criticism over the UNESCO decision to not recognize Israel’s historic claims to the holy sites, known to Muslims as the Haram esh-Sharif.
“The theatre of the absurd continues with UNESCO and today the organization has made its most bizarre decision by saying the people of Israel have no connection to the Temple Mount and the Western Wall,” Netanyahu said in Hebrew.
“To say that Israel has no connection to the Temple Mount and Western Wall is like saying China has no connection to the Great Wall of China or Egypt has no connection to the pyramids,” the PM added.
The Temple Mount is the holiest site in Judaism, where God’s divine presence is said to be manifest more than in any other place on earth. It is widely referenced in the Hebrew Bible as Mount Zion, where both of the Jewish Temples stood before their destruction.
The First Temple was built by King Solomon in 957 BC and destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BC. The second was built in 516 BC and destroyed by the Roman Empire in 70 AD. Now only the second Temple’s Western Wall, where many Jews go to pray, is left standing,
“Obviously they have never read the Bible,” Netanyahu said.
“I would advise UNESCO members to visit the Arch of Titus in Rome, where they can see what the Romans brought to Rome after they destroyed and looted the Temple Mount two thousand years ago. One can see engraved on the arch the seven-branched menorah, which is the symbol of the Jewish people as well as the symbol of the Jewish State today.
“Surely UNESCO will say that Emperor Titus was a part of Zionist propaganda,” he noted wryly.
Calling the UN body’s decision “absurd,” the Israeli PM said that UNESCO has lost “what little legitimacy it once had.”
But criticism of UNESCO did not end there. Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked called the vote anti-Semitic, ignorant, and biased.
“The UN is breaking its own record of ignorance and anti-Semitism. An organization that purports to represent science and education, instead of presenting the rotten politics of dictatorial Islamic countries,” the minister said.
The same view was voiced by the Zionist Union, which called Thursday’s vote “not just an anti-Israel decision but also an anti-Semitic decision which demonstrates how much this organization is intent on fighting Israel and Judaism far more than on dedicating itself to education, culture, and science which it is supposed to be promoting.”
The UNESCO vote prompted former Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, who is also a member of the Zionist Union, to send a letter to the organization, warning that the vote could lead to an escalation in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“We have a joint responsibility to prevent the national conflict from deteriorating into a religious conflict – and this decision could cause just that,” she stressed.
Known as the Haram esh-Sharif (Noble Sanctuary) by Muslims, the site is the third holiest place in Islam, after Mecca and Medina. The Quran says that the Prophet Mohammed took a miraculous night journey to Jerusalem on a winged horse in 621.
After the Muslim conquest of Jerusalem in 637, their caliphs built the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock on the site. The dome sits on the site where Mohammed rose to heaven, while the mosque was built on site where the Prophet first arrived in Jerusalem.
Muslims have controlled access to the site since 1187, when Arabs took back Jerusalem from the Crusaders. After the Six-Day War in 1967, the Temple Mount area came under Israeli occupation, with control over access to the Temple Mount given to Jerusalem Islamic Waqf. Since then, the site has been a flashpoint between Israel and Muslims.