Brussels, October 26th, 2016 – UNESCO, the UN agency for education, culture and science, has voted for the third time in less than two weeks to deny any Jewish and Christian links to the Temple Mount, which is the most holy site in Judaism. The vote of the 21 member strong UNESCO World Heritage Committee (WHC) *) comes only one week after the executive board of the same UN organisation had approved a similar resolution, which caused an international outcry in the Jewish world and even made UNESCO’s own Director-General, Irina Bokova and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon officially distance themselves from the resolution. Nevertheless, when the so-called 40COM 7A.13 resolution was presented to the World Heritage Committee on Wednesday morning, only two members out of twenty-one voted against the resolution which was conducted in a secret ballot. Jamaica was absent and did not vote. According to media reports on Wednesday the four EU member countries in the committee (Croatia, Finland, Poland and Portugal) had earlier indicated that they would abstain.
“Denying an entire people their undisputable historical link with the most holy site in their religion will only strengthen those radical forces that see no place whatsoever for Jews in Israel. As of today, they can base their claims on a UNESCO resolution which denies that there have ever been any Jews in Jerusalem, hence there can be no future for them there either. This is simply diplomatic ethnic cleansing by denying a people their own history and identity and it cannot be tolerated”, ECI Founding Director Tomas Sandell said in a statement after the vote on Wednesday.
ECI has been raising awareness of the upcoming vote since the month of July when the issue was first presented to the WHC at its annual meeting in Istanbul. The vote had to be postponed to October due to the failed Turkish military coup.
“This is a major disappointment for anyone who would like to put their trust in the UN system”, Sandell said. “How can anyone take a UN resolution seriously anymore, after this clear twisting of historical facts for political motives?” However, Sandell did not put all the blame on the Director-General Irina Bokova, but on those WHC member states who either voted for the resolution (10) or who accepted the results by abstaining (8).
“This is a clear wake up call for any true friend of Israel from around the world. Unless we hold those governments who accepted this resolution accountable, we will have accepted the claim of those who try to erase the Jewish people from our history”, Sandell warned. “To quote George Orwell: ‘Those who control the past control the future’.”
Furthermore, the words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer remind us of our civic responsibility on such a tragic day: “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”
*) Angola, Azerbaijan, Burkina Faso, Croatia, Cuba, Finland, Indonesia, Jamaica, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, South Korea, Tunisia, Turkey, Tanzania, Vietnam, Zimbabwe