Blog by Dr. Shimon Samuels published in The Jerusalem Post
4 April 2019
UNESCO Chief Audrey Azoulay speaks at the Internet
Governance Forum at UNESCO HQ (photo Reuters).
The United States and Israel left the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization on December 31, 2018.
On April 11, the organization’s 58-member executive board will vote on the twice-a-year resolutions on “Occupied Palestine... Jerusalem and its Walls,” “Palestinian Education, Youth,” etc., and on the “Occupied Syrian Golan.”
These votes will impact on the UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee in July – a Palestinian instrument for ID theft of the Jewish and Christian narratives in order to validate the cause of “Palestine.”
Since Palestinian entry into UNESCO in November 2011, along with a voracious appetite, it has annually demanded and received as heritage sites: the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, Battir (the headquarters of Bar-Kochba’s Beitar revolt against the Romans), Bilal ibn Rabah Mosque (Rachel’s Tomb), Haram al Sharif (the Temple Mount), Buraq Plaza (the Kotel, or Western Wall), and Al-Haram al-Ibrahimi Mosque (Tomb of the Patriarchs) in Khalil (Hebron).
Celestial and terrestrial Jerusalem meet in the so-called “Holy Basin,” where most of the three monotheistic faiths’ shrines are concentrated. Through the World Heritage Committee, their claims are ultimately aimed at sovereignty.
The Jewish Western Wall stands below the Temple Mount esplanade, connected by the “Mughrabi Ascent.” If Islamized, a non-Muslim worshiper at the Western Wall could conceivably be viewed as a trespassing infidel.
The aim is patently to obtain sites to surround Jerusalem and its suburbs.
In the absence of Israel, the Palestinians have courted the UNESCO Secretariat with a series of demands:
• On December 3, “Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls” (additions have been made to previous versions).
• On December 14, “Al-Khalil/Hebron Old Town” (an addition to the already designated Cave of the Patriarchs).
• On January 7, “Palestinian Olives and Vines – Cultural Landscape of South Jerusalem” (an addition to the already designated Battir).
• On February 25, “Palestinian Nabi Zakkarya” (Prophet Zecharia).
The back-story to the “Zecharia card” is very subtle. In Jewish sources, Zecharia was a minor priest, but in Christianity, he became the father of John the Baptist. According to the Book of Luke in the New Testament, Zecharia’s barren wife, Elisheva, was granted, in her 90s, a miraculous childbirth by the angel Gabriel, and was related by marriage to the Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus.
The Koran adapted much of this story around Nabi (Prophet) Zakkarya, his son, Yahya (John), is related to Isa (Jesus). The sting comes with the claim that Zakkarya was born in Al Khalil (Hebron) and is buried in the Tomb of Absalom (a son of King David, in a revered Jewish site) in the Kidron Valley, southeast of Jerusalem.
This message was enunciated a few days ago with attempted Muslim riots at the Lions Gate (in Judaism, St. Stephen’s Gate in Christianity), leading from the eastern embankment up to the Temple Mount.
Most of states voting on the executive board do not see the stratagem of a Palestinian World Heritage “Tentative List,” which includes Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls that have little to do with Palestinian or Islamic narratives.
In a situation where Jesus has been dubbed “a Palestinian,” it is time for the Christian world to join the Jewish people in arresting the further erosion of their respective heritage.
The aim to split the Judeo-Christian narrative by de-Judaization through the “Zakkarya Card” is an aggression against interfaith harmony, and will further damage the role of UNESCO.
It is time for the UNESCO secretariat, and responsible member states, to end the biennial antisemitic diplomacy against Israel, and return to its pristine programs for protection, preservation and celebration of the world’s heritage, and thereby entice an American and Israeli to return to its fold.
The writer is the Wiesenthal Center’s permanent observer to UNESCO.