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Blog by Dr. Shimon Samuels published in The Jewish Journal
9 July 2015

9 July 2015
The Kotel (photo Wikipedia).

The 39th UNESCO World Heritage Committee (WHC) has just ended its ten day annual meeting, this year in Bonn, Germany. Once again,the Wiesenthal Centre was the only accredited Jewish NGO.

Since the Palestinians's admittance to UNESCO in November 2011 they have wreaked havoc, best illustrated by their voracious appetite at UNESCO's WHC:

- 2012 in St. Petersburg, Russia, running roughshod over UNESCO's professional advisor, ICOMOS, they demanded and received Christianity's prime Holy Place, the Church of the Nativity and the Bethlehem Pilgrimage Route.

- At Paris board meetings, Rachel's Tomb and the Hebron Tomb of the Patriarchs (Ma'arat HaMachpelah) were reclassified as mosques.

- 2013 in Cambodia, a wish-list appeared that included the Qumran Caves and the Dead Sea Scrolls.

- 2014 In Qatar, Battir -  the Galilee Betar redolent of Bar Kokhba's Jewish revolt against Roman occupation.

Today, the greatest provocation in its campaign of ID theft of the Jewish narrative has arrived as paragraphs 9 and 20 of the perennial Jerusalem resolution crafted by Palestinians and Jordanians. Four times this document re-names Judaism's greatest shrine, the "Kotel" or Western Wall esplanade, as "the Buraq Plaza".

Buraq, according to Islam, is Muhammad’s winged steed, who flew the Prophet from Mecca to Jerusalem, for his night journey to heaven. He was tethered overnight to a wall until the Prophet returned to fly back to Mecca.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center discovered at the Frankfurt Book Fair and this year in the Doha, Riyadh and Muscat fairs,"The Buraq Wall", a text exhibited by a Palestinian publisher- reportedly a Hamas front:

How a Jewish conspiracy stole the Wall to substantiate the lie of its Temple on the site of Al-Aqsa.  How that "Western Wall" must now be returned to the embrace of Islam.

Ironically, three days before the Palestinian ploy at Bonn, 17 of the 21 member-states of the World Heritage Committee (WHC) applauded the inscription of Israel's 9th Heritage site, the Beit Shearim Necropolis. This was the Tomb of Sanhedrin President, Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi and fellow authors of the Mishna.  The walls of the catacomb are replete with Jewish, Greek and Roman motifs revealing an intercultural dialogue. 

Finland's Delegate noted that "the site is cosmopolitan but also provides historical evidence of the Jewish presence".

Sadly an unpalatable argument for the four Muslim members - Algeria, Lebanon, Malaysia, Qatar - which all abstained.

The German host registered a diplomatic coup in negotiating Korean objection to a Japanese site to be voted for inscription, that had once held Korean and other slave labourers.  There was no debate as Japan acknowledged "the foreign unwilling labourers working in harsh conditions" and agreed to place there a documentation centre memorial.

The site could then be approved by acclamation.

A second German diplomatic victory was not to be.

The Palestinians had seemed to accept a toned-down version of the Jerusalem resolution, in which Germany had insisted and obtained the Wiesenthal Centre's request to remove the "Buraq" references, in favour of the term  "Western Wall".

The final day of the meeting, Algeria,Lebanon and Qatar - fronting for the Palestinians - introduced an outrageous version,linking the Kotel (Buraq) to Al-Aqsa via the Mughrabi Ascent, effectively Islamicizing the Wall and, by association, negating the veracity of the Temple.

This was not only an embarrassment to the German hosts, but a fabricated battle-cry to the Muslim world that Al -Aqsa is under Jewish attack.

Interestingly, the document also lambasts Israel for its excavations and its improvements in Jerusalem as "damage to cultural heritage." Yet, two days before, when Yemen's Old City of Sanaa was inscribed, no one mentioned the recent damage to that site by  Saudi bombing.

The hard-line Jerusalem resolution was passed by secret ballot with 13 for, 2 against, 4 abstentions and one absent.

The Israeli Ambassador's hard-hitting response called "UNESCO manipulated...a court-martial  of lies...the adoption of this resolution in Germany a disgrace...a Jerusalem without Israel would be no different from the Middle East [pillaged by ISIS] .."

Of course, the resolution is not binding and serves mainly for pyrotechnics. Nevertheless, such Palestinian perfidy pushes further the ongoing delegitimization campaign against Israel. 

The 2016 UNESCO World Heritage Committee is to be held in Istanbul and Buraq, the winged steed, will surely be there.  Hopefully, he will stay grounded.

Shimon Samuels is Director for International Relations of the Simon Wiesenthal Center.