UNESCO’s efforts to rewrite history in Jerusalem are illogical and blatantly anti-Israel, but that doesn’t excuse Israel’s government from its role in this fiasco.
It’s all too easy to point a finger at the international community and call this resolution political, hypocritical and even antisemitic. It’s also true that Jerusalem is not mentioned once in the Koran, while it appears hundreds of times in the Bible. It is clear to anyone with any sense that the first and second Jewish temples stood on the Temple Mount.
But what has the government of Israel done to defend this truth, besides screaming at UNESCO after the fact?
Following the reunification of Jerusalem in 1967, Israel strictly forbade the flying of the Israeli flag and Jewish prayers atop the Temple Mount. Even when it rules that there is indeed a historical connection between the Jews and the Temple Mount, Israel’s Supreme Court – which in all other cases protects religious freedom – upholds the ban on Jewish prayer at Judaism’s holiest site.
Jews wearing prayer shawls and carrying prayer books and Bibles are denied entry to the Temple Mount (the same goes for Christians). Any non-Muslim even suspected of uttering silent prayers atop the sacred plateau is immediately arrested by the Israel Police and taken in for questioning.
The Temple Mount, which is today occupied by two mosques, has been under the autonomous rule of the Islamic religious watchdog Waqf since the Six Day War in 1967. It is no secret in Israel that the government fears upsetting the Muslims, and so has abandoned the Temple Mount to them.
And that sadly includes letting the Muslims destroy Jewish history.
During the 1990s, the Waqf unceremoniously dumped 400 truckloads of excavated debris into the valley below the Temple Mount. The Muslims were building a third mosque in the lower levels of the mount known as Solomon’s Stables. Under the watchful eyes of Israeli governments, including Netanyahu’s, much of Israel’s history at its most sacred site was trashed.
Two archeologists, Tzachi Davira and Dr. Gabriel Barkay, along with thousands of volunteers, took it upon themselves to save as much of that precious history as possible. They began sifting through the dump site, and in the ensuing years have found and preserved thousands of coins, stamps, potshards and tiles form the First and Second temples.
Speaking to Israel’s Channel 2 News, the archeologists said they had recovered no fewer than 500,000 artifacts, but have had to do so solely on private funding. The Israeli government has failed to finance this important work!
Anyone decrying the antisemitic behavior in the UN must also hold Israel at least partially responsible for it. According to Davira and Barkay, the government of Israel has done nothing beyond words to actually preserve Jewish history at the Temple Mount.
“We have repeatedly asked the government for financial support over the years, but have not received a shekel,” said Davira. “Nor was even one of our finds from the two Temple periods was published in the Foreign Ministry’s official literature submitted to UNESCO.”
When speaking abroad, Israeli politicians preach of the importance of the Temple Mount to the Jewish state, but their actions at home suggest otherwise. In so doing, they weaken Israel’s claims and bolster Islam’s efforts to rewrite history.