Seeming to parallel the dystopian world described by George Orwell in “1984” in which history and fact are manipulated to serve political ends, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization recently voted, 24-6, to approve a resolution stripping the Temple Mount and Western Wall of their Jewish identity, and elevating a Muslim claim to those two sites central to Judaism. The intellectually-retrogressive measure, promoted by the stateless Palestinians and sponsored by Egypt, Algeria, Morocco, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar and Sudan in a document tellingly named “Occupied Palestine,” purported to be interested in “safeguarding of the cultural heritage of Palestine and the distinctive character of East Jerusalem.”
That mission, given the moral imbecility of the 24 countries that voted in favor (and the 26 who cravenly abstained), had as its primary purpose to airbrush a Jewish connection out of Jerusalem, and particularly the Temple Mount. The hallucinatory and willfully delusional vote from Jew-hating nations in the thralls of Palestinianism, of course, is not surprising, given the United Nation’s promiscuous bias and historical inversions when assessing the perceived shortcomings of Israel. Nor was the attempt to de-Judaize the Western Wall and Temple Mount by ascribing fictive religious identities on those sites the first time this irrational irredentism had been used as a tactic to elevate the Palestinian claim to Jerusalem while simultaneously obliterating the Jewish one.
Prescient commentators worldwide immediately denounced the vote for exactly what it was: not a legitimate attempt to protect the ethnic and religious rights of a people to sites that are verifiably and undisputedly theirs, but a brazen and volatile political tactic that, while possibly effective, was promoted only by completely ignoring at least 2,000 years of biblical, religious, historical and archeological evidence.
But this latest example of what has been called “Temple Denial” on the part of the Palestinians and their supporters is the culminating act in a long campaign that showed itself as early as 2000 at the Camp David negotiations, when a shocked President Bill Clinton was told by Yasser Arafat that no Jewish temple had ever existed on the Temple Mount, but had been located, he preposterously claimed, in Nablus.
That sentiment, and that fantastical version of history, is clearly still prevalent within the Palestinian movement. “UNESCO’s resolution confirms what we think and believe in, that Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa Mosque in particular, and the Al-Buraq Wall and the Al-Buraq plaza are all purely Islamic and Palestinian assets, and no one has the right to be our partner in that,” Mahmoud Al-Habbash, the Palestinian president’s advisor on religious and Islamic affairs, said on Palestinian television on Oct. 14. “No one has the right. We are the owners and we have the right to it.”
Of course, this toxic language is dangerous, fusing theological and political considerations that are potentially compromising for Israeli security and lethal to Jewish lives. In the first place, if the Palestinians, along with the Jordanian Waqf that administers the Temple Mount, now see themselves as the rightful and legal custodians of Judaism’s holiest site — with Jews now stripped of any historical or theological connection to it — they now can, without being contradicted or sanctioned, truly accuse Jews (and non-Muslim visitors, too) at those locations of being “right-wing extremists and uniformed forces,” as the UNESCO resolution read.
For some years, the millions of annual visitors to the Western Wall and Temple Mount have frequently had to confront a phalanx of shrieking harpies, the Murabitat, Muslim women funded by the northern branch of Israel’s Islamic Movement who shout at and assault visitors to the site. Now, with the purported legitimacy of the UNESCO designation, why would anyone doubt that enforcement of a Muslim-only presence, both on the Temple Mount itself, but now, potentially, at the Western Wall also, is something that the Palestinians and their Waqf enablers could begin to claim as a new, U.N.-granted “right” to purge Jews once and for all from what are now designated as Muslim holy sites? Will they not be emboldened by their new religious possessions and feel compelled to protect the “sacred” Muslim sites from being desecrated with the “dirty feet” of Jews who now will have no right to even visit these locations?
Since the 1920s, when Amin al-Husseini, the Nazi-loving Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, rallied Muslims with accusations that Jews intended to destroy the Al-Aqsa Mosque and rebuild the Jewish Temple, Arabs have attempted to overlook and obscure a Jewish connection to the site, and have sought to “liberate” purported Muslim holy places from the grip of Zionists.
“Liberating” Jerusalem, of course, does not mean transforming it into a pluralistic, open city where members of three major faiths can live freely and practice their religions openly. Liberating Jerusalem for the Palestinians would be more in keeping with the type of liberation that Transjordan’s Arab League effected when they burned and looted the Jewish Quarter in Jerusalem in 1948; expelled and killed its hapless Jewish population; destroyed some 58 synagogues, many hundreds of years old; unearthed gravestones from the history-laden Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives and used them for latrine pavers; and barred any Jew from praying at the Western Wall or entering the Temple Mount. That same predilection to destroy religious property was on display again shortly after Camp David, when a crazed Palestinian mob took sledgehammers to Joseph’s Tomb, a Jewish holy site, and completely obliterated it as Palestinian policemen stood idly by and watched.
The UNESCO vote, as part of an historical campaign to reclaim Jewish Jerusalem, will have the effect of destabilizing the region and creating, not the oft-hoped for Israel and Palestine “living side by side in peace,” but an incendiary cauldron about to explode into an annihilatory, jihadist rage. If UNESCO and other Western diplomats are intent on mollifying the Arab street by pressuring Israel to divide Jerusalem and turn over its holy sites as a peace offering to the Palestinians, it may well be setting into motion the exact opposite result: a jihadist, apocalyptic movement invigorated by the misguided diplomacy of the West that, once more, asks Israel to sacrifice its security, religious heritage, and nationhood so that Islamists can realize their own imperial ambitions at the Jewish state’s expense.
The UNESCO vote indicates that, in a morally incoherent world, political expediency will trump reason, truth and fact. “All history was … scraped clean and reinscribed exactly as often as was necessary,” Orwell described it. “In no case would it have been possible, once the deed was done, to prove that any falsification had taken place.”
Richard L. Cravatts, Ph.D., is the immediate past-president of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East.