May 8, 2017
Following on from the outrageous resolution which UNESCO passed back in October 2016 which not just ignored but also tried to eradicate more than 3000 years of Jewish history and connection to Jerusalem, UNESCO have been at it again. This time, however, they chose the day of Yom Ha’atzmaut to pass another resolution disregarding the Jewish connection to any part of Jerusalem! The resolution should not be a surprise seeing as it was submitted by Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, and Sudan. Hardly the bastions of supportive countries towards Israel or the Jewish people.
Whilst this time they graciously acknowledged, “the importance of the Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls for the three monotheistic religions”, they also accused Israel, who they regularly refer to as “the occupying power” as having “altered or purport to alter the character and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem”. The resolution goes onto to criticise Israel’s “military confrontations in and around the Gaza Strip” without mentioning any of the 1000’s of rocket attacks by Hamas on Israel.
Finally the resolution moves onto Hebron and Bethlehem stating that “the two Palestinian sites of Al-Haram Al-Ibrahimi/Tomb of the Patriarchs in Al- Khalil/Hebron and the Bilal Ibn Rabah Mosque/Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem” are an “integral part of the Occupied Palestinian Territory” At least they did see fit to, presumably grudgingly, acknowledge the Jewish and Christian significance to these sites, stating that UNESCO “shares the conviction affirmed by the international community that the two sites are of religious significance for Judaism, Christianity and Islam”. How gracious of them!
The above, it should be noted, happened despite the Director General of UNESCO defending the Jewish historical link to Jerusalem at the World Jewish Congress assembly in New York in April this year.
On a slightly more positive note, whilst the vote did pass, and will always pass whilst the majority of UNESCO’s Executive Board members are anti-Israel, there was an increase this time round from 6 ‘no’ votes in 2016 to 10 ‘no’ votes in 2017, and a reduction in both abstentions from 26 (2016) to 23 (2017) and in ‘yes’ votes from 24 (2016) to 22 (2017).
Whilst New Zealand is a member of UNESCO, they are not on the Executive Board and therefore could not vote on either of these resolutions. However, New Zealand will almost certainly contribute financially to UNESCO, although it is difficult to find out exactly how much. Maybe now it is time that New Zealand reconsidered its funding to this clearly anti-Semitic institution. Minister Brownlee should be made aware of this and maybe he will, unlike McCully, decide to withdraw, reduce or at least put conditions on any future New Zealand funding to UNESCO.