On Oct. 13, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization passed a resolution that determined that Jews have no connection to Jerusalem and the Temple Mount. With this action, the UN spit on the memory of the millions of Jews that sacrificed their lives for a Jewish homeland. The Western Wall, which is located at the Temple Mount, is a location of Judaic significance. Every year, Jews from all around the world make pilgrimage to Jerusalem to pray in front of the Western Wall.
Twenty-four countries voted in favor of the decision, 26 countries abstained and only six voted against. The resolution stated that Jerusalem is holy to the three monotheistic religions: Judaism, Islam and Christianity. The problematic part of the resolution is that it includes a special section dealing with the Temple Mount, which says the site is sacred only to Muslims.
The control over the city of Jerusalem is a polarizing topic between Israelis and Palestinians because of the Jews’ and Muslims’ religious connection to Temple Mount. UNESCO’s resolution is another example of the UN’s clear bias against the sole Jewish nation in the world. A prerequisite for peace must be the recognition of Israel’s right to exist as a nation and that is not being seen as evident by these UN resolutions.
The Western Wall is important to the Jewish faith because it is the last remaining structure of the old Jewish temple. The significance of the city of Jerusalem is embedded in the Judaic faith.
The Jewish connection to Jerusalem dates back as early as the 10th century B.C. During classical antiquity, Jerusalem was considered the center of the world resided by God. Just as Muslims pray in the direction of Mecca, Jews pray in the direction of Jerusalem. Many of King David’s yearnings about Jerusalem are described in the Book of Samuels and the Book of Psalms, which have been adapted into popular songs and prayers.
As a Muslim, I too feel a connection to the city of Jerusalem due to my religious ties. Every Muslim yearns to have the opportunity to perform their prayers inside of the Al-Aqsa mosque. Just as I, a Muslim, feel a religious connection to the Temple Mount, so do the Jewish people.
UNESCO’s resolution creates further strife between Muslims and Jews when it comes to the topic of Israel. There are those who rebuke the state of Israel and UNESCO’s resolution gives credibility to such dangerous rhetoric. In my ideal future, Muslims and Jews peacefully share the Temple Mount as we both are people of Abraham. That cannot happen when an international body passes resolution that seeks to erase Jewish history.
The UNESCO resolution reminds us all that Israel still faces enemies that look to vilify it as a nation. The United States has a moral obligation to stand with its Jewish ally against this anti-Semitic movement of delegitimization. Israel, like the United States, is a democratic nation in a desert of authoritarian regimes. It is the shared values of peace and democracy that strengthens the bond between the United States and Israel. It is also our shared values that make Israel a target of terrorists and the United States an ultimate one.
Israel, like the United States, was created as a symbol of hope to people who had faced oppression, had faced horrible murder and persecution. Israel is not just a nation, it is an idea that cannot be killed by an anti-Semitic resolution. As the Hebrew phrase goes: “Am Yisrael Chai,” meaning Israel lives on.
Photo via Noam Chen on Flickr.