The Simon Wiesenthal Centre, as the only Jewish organisation accredited to the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, deplored the abuse of an organisation that was founded to provide protection and preservation of cultural and natural heritage sites, for another round of Israel bashing.
Phnom Penh, Cambodia, 25 June 2013
"Since Palestine was accepted as a member-state of UNESCO, to paraphrase the military strategist, Von Clausewitz, heritage has become war by another means", observed Dr. Shimon Samuels, the Centre's Director for International Relations and its Chief Delegate to the conference.
"Take the complex and sensitive case of Jerusalem, for many years managed by the two pre-1967 custodians, Israel and Jordan. Though tense, and sometimes stormy, there were always short-term solutions: adjourn, postpone, examine, referral to professionals, consensus, etc.
Thus, in April, Israel had approved an American-Russian negotiated agreement for a UNESCO professional mission to visit Jerusalem in late May, in exchange for the Arabs shelving all other issues. These included a delay on the registration of Battir as Palestinian heritage (the site of Beitar, Bar Kochba's Jewish uprising against the Romans in the second century).
At the last moment, the Palestinians changed the goal-posts, adding two politicians, President Abbas’ Minister for Jerusalem and a political advisor presented, in bad faith, as a professional architect and an archaeologist.
Israel postponed the mission on grounds of its misrepresentation. Jordan, on behalf of the Arab group and pushed by Palestine, drafted a formal resolution, attacking a string of Israeli developments in the city - from a visitors’ centre to a tramway to an elevator by the Western Wall to spurious charges of excavations 'damaging' the mosque on the Temple Mount above - on grounds of 'integrity and authenticity'."
Samuels stressed that "such grandstanding has greatly annoyed Cambodia, the host of this year’s meeting, which has invested great efforts to
make the gathering a springboard for tourism, highlighting its unique heritage site — the temples of Angkor Wat. Cambodia pressed the Arabs to desist from Palestinian hijacking.
Similarly, laureates of newly registered sites, from Namibia to China, were hardly thrilled to have their moment of glory marred by the Middle-East jack in the box."
"Could all this result in Palestine-fatigue? Not likely. The resolution on Jerusalem was put to roll call vote. Of the 21 member-states of the World Heritage Committee, 10 abstained and 3 voted against: kudos to Estonia, Germany and Switzerland. As abstentions are not counted against, the Jerusalem travesty passed by 3 to 8. It should be noted that seven of the 21 voting states are Muslim, which ensure them a virtually automatic victory", stressed Samuels.
There really was no surprise factor. The Center's monitoring had discovered that ISESCO (the Islamic states UNESCO), already on 12 June, had announced that it "would seek to develop common Arab and Islamic stances to have an international resolution issued to protect Al Quds Al Sharif (Jerusalem) from Israeli violations..."
Last year in St.Petersburg, Russia, Palestine presented a "Tentative List" of sites revealing a voracious appetite: the Old Cities of Jericho and Hebron, the Qumran Caves and the Dead Sea Scrolls. Two more cases had already begun a process in UNESCO: the Tomb of Rachel and the Machpela Cave of the Patriarchs, both now rebaptised as mosques.
The Centre had discovered a Hamas inspired volume at last year's Frankfurt Book Fair, entitled "The Buraq Wall" (see attached photos). Buraq was the Prophet Muhammed's winged steed who flew him from Mecca to Jerusalem. He tethered his mount at a wall that carries its name, while he made his night visit to heaven. That Buraq Wall is today known as the Western Wall (the Kotel), Judaism's holiest shrine.
The Centre is also concerned at the Museum of Palestinian Heritage in construction in Ramallah ("to be transferred to Jerusalem as soon as possible"). This is vaunted as a hi-tech facility with global outreach and is described as a "safe place for unsafe ideas", pointing to yet another arm in the arsenal of deJudaization of Jewish heritage — a patent identity theft of the Jewish narrative.
We will continue to monitor the situation as it develops", concluded Samuels.
The Simon Wiesenthal Centre is an international Jewish human rights organization with a worldwide membership of 440,000. Established in 1977, with headquarters in Los Angeles, it draws the lessons of the Holocaust to the analysis of contemporary issues of prejudice and discrimination. The Centre is an NGO in consultative status to the United Nations, UNESCO, the OSCE, the Organization of American States and the Council of Europe.