A NEW UNITED NATIONS LOW: When Jesus ‘stormed the al-Aqsa mosque’ in Jerusalem
October 13, 2016, was a momentous day in world history: the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) voted to rewrite millennia of Jewish history by denying the Jewish connection to Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, which is Judaism’s holiest site. As far as UNESCO is concerned, the site where once the Jewish temples stood – and where the Christian Bible situates important events in the life of Jesus – should rightly be known as the Muslim “Holy Site Al-Aqsa Mosque/Al-Haram Al-Sharif.”
The UNESCO resolution also renames what Jews call the Kotel, i.e., the Western Wall (of the Temple Mount) and the area in front of it, as Al-Buraq Plaza, while using scare quotes when mentioning the common English term “Western Wall Plaza.” Well, what are a few millennia of documented Jewish history compared with a Muslim legend about al-Buraq, “a tall, white beast, bigger than the donkey but smaller than the mule” with “long ears” and “two wings on his thighs”? Muslims believe that one night, this creature took their prophet Muhammad “to the farthest Mosque” – which of course couldn’t possibly have been located in Jerusalem during Muhammad’s lifetime (supposedly 570 – 632 CE). In reality, the Muslim claim to Jerusalem was simply established by force when Muslim troops conquered the city 636-637.
Perhaps the best reaction to the preposterous UNESCO resolution would be the kind of ridicule Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs offered on Twitter when they posted a few tweets and a short video with Bible texts “corrected” to conform to today’s UNESCO resolution. Given that UNESCO strongly condemns “the continuous storming of Al-Aqsa Mosque/Al-Haram Al-Sharif” by what they call “Israeli right-wing extremists and uniformed forces” – i.e. Jews (and other non-Muslims) visiting the Temple Mount and the security forces necessary to protect them from violent Muslims – it’s perhaps particularly urgent to revise the famous story of Jesus chasing merchants from the Temple’s court yards and to understand that UNESCO would firmly denounce Jesus for his inexcusable “storming of Al-Aqsa Mosque/Al-Haram Al-Sharif.”
The countless Christian paintings of this scene and others depicting Jesus in the Temple should now also be properly relabeled; particularly countries like Italy, Spain, France and Sweden, which are surely in possession of many such paintings but couldn’t muster the backbone to reject the UNESCO resolution, should urgently devote themselves to the task of ensuring that their museums, churches and monasteries do not violate the UNESCO charade they acquiesced in so cravenly.
But while it may feel good to let some steam off by ridiculing UNESCO’s resolution, it is arguably a very serious matter. As Yair Rosenberg rightly noted in a Tablet post, the United Nations usually cloak their “animus” against Israel “in the garb of anti-Zionism.” But UNESCO now “dispensed
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