The anti-Semitism of UNESCO

The Temple Mount in Jerusalem contains at once some of the holiest sites of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Besides being the historical site of the Jewish Second Temple (Herod’s Temple) and possibly other temples (confirmed by archaeological evidence), and the Western (“Wailing”) Wall, it’s reputed to contain the stone on which Abraham almost sacrificed Isaac. (I am not, of course, saying I believe these myths, but the presence of early Jewish temples is undeniable.) This makes it special to Christians and Jews. It also has two very holy mosques, including the Dome of the Rock (deliberately built on the holy site of “earlier” religions, since Islam is the “final truth”), which contains the Isaac Stone (unviewable by Christians and Jews, who are denied access to the mosque. Since 1967, access of Jews and Christians to the Temple Mount has been severely restricted by the Israeli government, and Jews are not allowed to either wear religious garb on the Mount (save a yarmulke)  nor pray there. It is a contentious place where three religious groups vie for access, and where a resolution of the competing claims seems impossible.

Two days ago, the members of UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, with 195 member countries) adopted, by an overwhelming “yes vs no” vote (with many nations abstaining), a resolution denying the connection between Judaism and the holy sites on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, and basically designating it as a Muslim holy site alone (you can see the full resolution here).  This is what the Palestinians have been trying to accomplish for many years. The implication is that Jews (and Christians) should have no access to the Temple Mount or even the Western Wall.

As the New York Times reports (see also here, here, and here):

PARIS — UNESCO’s executive board on Tuesday approved a resolution that Israel says denies the deep historic Jewish connection to holy sites in Jerusalem — and that has angered Israel’s government and many Jews around the world.

The resolution is not expected to have concrete impact on Jerusalem itself, but it aggravated diplomatic tensions around the city and within UNESCO, which is also facing a dispute between Japan and China that threatens funding.

It’s the latest of several measures at UNESCO over decades that Israelis see as evidence of ingrained anti-Israel bias within the United Nations, where Israel and its allies are far outnumbered by Arab countries and their supporters. Israel’s concern has mounted since UNESCO states admitted Palestine as a member in 2011.

The resolution, titled “Occupied Palestine,” lays out rules about the preservation of holy sites in Jerusalem, and uses only the Islamic name for a hilltop compound sacred to both Jews and Muslims. The site includes the Western Wall, a remnant of the biblical temple and the holiest site where Jews can pray.

Jews refer to the hilltop compound in Jerusalem’s Old City as the Temple Mount. Muslims refer to it as al-Haram al-Sharif, Arabic for the Noble Sanctuary, and it includes the Al-Aqsa mosque and the golden Dome of the Rock. It is the holiest site in Judaism and the third holiest in Islam, after Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia.

The board adopted the resolution by consensus Tuesday at the Paris headquarters of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. A draft form of the resolution had already been approved by a commission last week.

Here’s the vote. 24 nations, including many Muslim-majority countries, voted for the resolution, only six against (including the UK and US), and 26 countries abstained because they were too cowardly to take a stand.  The cowards include France, India, Italy, Japan, and Sweden.


Given the historical evidence, this kind of vote cannot be seen as anything other than either anti-Semitism or catering to Muslim desires to keep the peace (there’s not much difference there given that Jewish claims to the territory are rejected). But it goes along with the UN’s recent anti-Israel stand. As Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted (and I’m just quoting his quip, so don’t go off on the man for other things):

One more quote from 12 years ago:


h/t: Malgorzata


  1. BobTerrace
    Posted October 20, 2016 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    The entire United Nations and many of its subsidiary organizations has become a joke and dangerous to freedom and rights. The US and other countries should pull out.

    The UN Human Rights committee is run by the biggest abusers of human rights.

  2. Kevin
    Posted October 20, 2016 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    Mexico? China? South Africa?

    What exactly is the point of revisionism? Insecurity. I can hear them now: “My faith is the right faith and if you disagree I will just change the history books.”

    If there is any insight in this resolution its that the world is mostly filled with cowards.

    • Nell Whiteside
      Posted October 20, 2016 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

      South Africa indeed? Sorry.

      Religion seems to make people barmy.

      • nicky
        Posted October 20, 2016 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

        South Africa indeed. I’m ashamed of my adopted country, even more so since the country I left voted against. It my possibly be ascribedto the close relation between Israel and the previous regime here.
        And I note that eg. Belgium, Poland, Norway or Denmark are completely missing. Are they not mmbers of the UN/UNESCO?

        • nicky
          Posted October 20, 2016 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

          Oops, ‘Executive Board’.(blush).😳

  3. GBJames
    Posted October 20, 2016 at 12:36 pm | Permalink


  4. Malgorzata
    Posted October 20, 2016 at 12:42 pm | Permalink


  5. DrBrydon
    Posted October 20, 2016 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    Really, St. Kitts? Really?

  6. Posted October 20, 2016 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

    26 abstainers! There are a lot of gutless countries in this world.

  7. Randall Schenck
    Posted October 20, 2016 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    I must agree that humor is the only response. I’ll go with peanut and butter.

    Why does the UN take such votes. It’s like the house of reps taking 55 votes to abolish health care in the U.S. We just take these votes to remind everyone how useless we are. Thank you very much.

  8. Posted October 20, 2016 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    time to drop used menstrual products all over the site

    no one gets it until they can share

    Stupid Abrahamics, same religion

    Jews 1.0 Christians 2.0 Islam 3.0 and too many splinter groups to the extremes for anyone to say that there’s one true one

  9. Posted October 20, 2016 at 1:33 pm | Permalink


  10. roadworker
    Posted October 20, 2016 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

    Terrible, but hardly surprising. Israel has been UNESCOs one and only target of condemnation for years, and being anti Israel and anti Semitic is some of the most valuable political capital in the UN as a whole.

  11. Andrew Schwartzmann
    Posted October 20, 2016 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

    So easily falsifiable if you’d bothered to read the actual resolution:

    “The Executive Board, …

    3. Affirming the importance of the Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls for the three monotheistic religions

    37. Shares the conviction affirmed by the international community that the two sites are of religious significance for Judaism, Christianity and Islam

    Ironic that you don’t see how your unquestioning embrace of any accusation of anti-Semitism, no matter how tenuous, is the purified essence of the Regressive Leftism you regularly rail about.

    • Posted October 20, 2016 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

      I read it, you lamebrain. They added those sentences as a sop later. Read the whole resolution before you blather here, as the tenor and import of that resolution is EXACTLY as I described it, and why all the Muslim countries voted for it and why it was so controversial.
      God, I’m sick of people like you, and so I’m making an exception to “no namecalling”

      • Paula S
        Posted October 20, 2016 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

        Namecall all you want; it doesn’t change the facts. You claimed that this is “a resolution denying the connection between Judaism and the holy sites on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount.” That’s a straight up falsehood.

        You’re a liar, plain and simple. Which isn’t namecalling either…just another fact.

        Oh, and you’re also a coward who blocks people after attacking them, giving them no chance to respond to your dishonesty. “Making an exception”? You do nothing but make exceptions for yourself to the rules you apply to everyone else.

        Have fun whining about your victim status here in your safe space, Mr. Regressive Leftist…which, by the way, is namecalling.

        • keith cook +/-
          Posted October 20, 2016 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

          hmmm.. a bit of tension in the lounge… the fact is why come up with this resolution in the first place when the sites are clearly important to all three religions.
          Personally i don’t give a rats, you can speculate to the motivations of this UNESCO resolution all you like but what a waste of time and for the three, all things being equal, i think that’s the point, waste and fail.
          Today, nothing has changed in my universe that i can say has been shaped to improve the human condition and that’s a fact.

        • Posted October 21, 2016 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

          I doubt that anyone here needs your lying and trolling. Personally, I do not.

        • somer
          Posted October 22, 2016 at 8:35 am | Permalink

          OK there was one exception on name calling after thousands of posts and goodness knows what provocation. Go to your left-only sites (of which there are thousands) where everyone will trade in extreme insults of anyone with the most vaguely rightwing views on anything and suck the ideology coolaid. Happy safe spacing. Oh and nearly all quality public broadcaster sites feel they must cater to the regressive left on many of the issues raised in this site for fear of being portrayed as unharmonious and not meeting their charter on account of vocal groups. They will welcome your comments and block/not put up views of most commenters here.

          Admittedly, the resolution doesnt actually say it doesnt recognise Jewish historical claims in the site – but it de facto amounts to this at least as a longer term agenda by calling for removal of all Israeli archaelogy and preservation and insisting on Palestinian and UNESCO ones on the temple mount and in East Jerusalem. By referring to Israel only as the Occupying power, and the sites in the temple mount precinct only by their arab names. By insisting Hebron and Bethlehem are purely Palestinian including the Jewish sacred sites in them – which the document insists are essentially a Muslim holy sites and insisting they be removed from Israel’s heritage list altogether. It also includes many political/strategic grievances or disputes that have nothing to do with culture and side exclusively with Palestine.

          • Francisco
            Posted October 22, 2016 at 11:09 am | Permalink

            Along with many Muslim countries could be found China, Russia, Mexico, Brasil, Nicaragua. Antisemitism also ? The Muslim control them toomaybe !!!! Always funny to see ome of my admired Biologist, atheist and humanist having close view to ignorant religious right wing when it comes to the IP conflict.

            • somer
              Posted October 24, 2016 at 6:48 am | Permalink

              Im not talking about the countries which signed the motion … and seriously you would expect Russia and China to sign against Israel and the others have a somewhat anti west platform at times. The Palestinian issue has some real injustices but the problem for the hard left is they see it as a keystone issue of issues for staking anti west credentials. Yawn.

  12. J.Baldwin
    Posted October 20, 2016 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

    Holy socially constructed realities, Batman!

  13. Carl
    Posted October 20, 2016 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

    Antisemitism? political correctness? ignorance of history? poor values? cowardice?

    Probably a weighted average of this witches brew, with different weights given by different constituencies. I’ll say one thing for evangelicals, as wrong as their reasoning might be, at least they support the state of Israel and help bring the rest of the U.S. along.

    I didn’t see Canada on the list. I hope our brothers and sisters to the North are in the blue column.

    • Posted October 20, 2016 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

      Canada is not a member of the UNESCO Executive Board.

      • Carl
        Posted October 20, 2016 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

        Thanks. My blunder for not reading carefully.

  14. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted October 20, 2016 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

    I followed that link the PCC gave to Haaretz and the first thing I saw in a pop-up ad was

    “Trump Supporters Tweet Naziesque Death Threats to Jewish Women Writers”

    Thought PCC was tired of Trump-bashing newsmedia…


  15. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted October 20, 2016 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

    “26 countries abstained because they were too cowardly to take a stand. The cowards include France, India, Italy, Japan, and Sweden.”

    I strongly object to that. It was a very long motion which wrapped up a swag of detailed grievances, probably some of them perfectly genuine. It could very well be that the countries in question didn’t want to peremptorily dismiss all those grievances and they know perfectly well that Israel will take the same notice of the motion as it does of every other UN resolution – ignore it.

    I say take off and nuke the site from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.


    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted October 20, 2016 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

      … strongly object to that characterisation of the 26 abstainers as ‘cowards’, just to make myself clear.

      (Must re-read for ambiguities before posting)


    • Posted October 21, 2016 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

      I think their characterization as cowards is correct. They just cater to Muslims because there are far more Muslims than Jews.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted October 21, 2016 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

        Well they didn’t ‘cater to Muslims’, they abstained.


        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted October 21, 2016 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

          … speaking of which, I seem to remember PCC and others criticising France for e.g. banning burqas. I’m really trying to see how they were ‘catering to Muslims’ there..?

  16. Ken Kukec
    Posted October 20, 2016 at 10:02 pm | Permalink

    To paraphrase a famous line from JFK’s “Berliner” speech: There are those who say religion does not poison everything. I say, let them come to Jerusalem!

    I recently began reading Damascus Gate, the late Robert Stone’s 1997 novel set in Jerusalem, and dealing with religious strife there.

  17. Tom
    Posted October 21, 2016 at 1:06 am | Permalink

    Perhaps Muslims and should clarify the reason why they think it is a Holy Site for them as it seems to have no basis in history.
    If I may use an analogy Westminster Abbey has stood for nearly a thousand years but nobody regards its site as holy, so why does the Dome etc make that site holy for Muslims what happened there for them to make it holy?

    • GBJames
      Posted October 21, 2016 at 7:04 am | Permalink

      I believe it has something to do with a flying horse.

  18. Tom
    Posted October 21, 2016 at 1:10 am | Permalink

    Sorry, should read “Perhaps Muslims and UNESCO”

  19. Mike
    Posted October 21, 2016 at 8:08 am | Permalink

    The UN is not fit for purpose, and hasn’t been for years, the last straw for me was making a Saudi the Chair of its Human Rights Committee with absolutely no sense of irony.

  20. Posted October 21, 2016 at 8:29 am | Permalink

    I just read the whole resolution, but I didn’t see the part that denies a Jewish connection to the Temple Mount. Can someone point me to the specific, relevant section? Or is it just sort of implied by the overall language, using only the Muslim names for things? Thanks.

  21. eric
    Posted October 21, 2016 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

    Looks to me like the Security Council’s beard is working as planned. Yeah its getting some nasty tangles, but it still hides the face.

  22. Torbjörn Larsson
    Posted October 23, 2016 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    I am ashamed for UN and for Sweden (which is currently governed by a coalition of Arab friendly Social Democratic and Environmental parties, and tries to be elected into the security council).

    On another point, there is unambiguous archaeological and historical evidence of a Jewish temple, build by Herod. But that is also unambiguous evidence that it was the first such temple, since the historical description and the archaeological evidence agrees on that it was built on bedrock. I looked over the linked article of “possibly other temples (confirmed by archaeological evidence)” and find nothing of the sort. The only correlation would be a “unique object”, with concomitant low likelihood of interpreting it correctly, tied to priests with a name that goes back to oral tradition [!] of the Jewish myth package.

    They also claim “historical sources” but the first I picked, Berossus, seems to simply have related a common mythical king list outside of the specific Jewish tradition. [ ] I could dig further, but the quality of the ‘evidence’, both archaeological and historical, reminds me of Jerry’s recent article on the christian myth package. “… there’s a handy table giving all the early writers and theologians whose words are used as evidence for a historical Jesus. At least you can see the lack of evidence in one short-ish post.” [ ]

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