The United States and Israel have completed their announced departure from UNESCO, the United Nations’ Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization, over its anti-Israel bias. UNESCO repeatedly has condemned Israel while granting membership to the Palestinians and naming ancient Jewish sites as Palestinian heritage sites. WND reported UNESCO designated the Temple Mount, the likely site of the original Jewish temples during biblical times, with Muslim names.
The U.S. and Israel announced their intent to withdraw from UNESCO in 2017, but the formal departure date was December 31, 2018. The AP reported the move was a “new blow” to the U.N. agency, which is famous “as a crucible for anti-Israel bias.” Israeli U.N. envoy Danny Danon, the AP reported, confirmed his country “will not be a member of an organization whose goal is to deliberately act against us, and that has become a tool manipulated by Israel’s enemies.”
The U.S. already had stopped paying hundreds of millions of dollars in fees imposed by UNESCO, and Israel had withheld about $10 million. The AP said new UNESCO Director General Audrey Azoulay appeared to be trying to address the concerns, launching a “Holocaust education website” and authoring guidelines on fighting anti-Semitism. WND reported the U.S. announcement of its withdrawal was followed by the agency’s “delusional” decision to declare the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron a “Palestinian heritage site.”
The US joined UNESCO as a founding member but pulled out in 1984 because of “a growing disparity between US foreign policy and UNESCO goals.” After 19 years, Washington rejoined the organization in October 2003. “As a symbol of our commitment to human dignity, the United States will return to UNESCO. This organization has been reformed and America will participate fully in its mission to advance human rights and tolerance and learning,” the then-president, George W. Bush, said while announcing the decision to rejoin.1
Heather Nauert, a State Department spokeswoman, said it “reflects U.S. concerns with mounting arrears at UNESCO, the need for fundamental reform in the organization, and continuing anti-Israel bias at UNESCO.” President Trump’s administration has been highly critical of the United Nations in general and in particular of its anti-Israel bias. A petition is encouraging Congress and the president to defund the U.N. and expel its headquarters from the U.S.
WND reported Mat Staver, chairman of Liberty Counsel and a prominent supporter of Israel, said the UNESCO resolution regarding the Hebron site was “another delusional U.N. decision which disregards the historical truth and the Jewish people’s deep connection to Hebron.” Staver also is president of Christians in Defense of Israel and founder of Covenant Journey, all in support of Israel.
“To refer to Hebron as ‘Islamic’ denies thousands of years of Jewish history as well as Christian ties to the site. The biblical patriarchs Abraham and Isaac, as well as the matriarchs Sarah, Rebecca and Leah are believed to be buried there, and to deny that is another move toward the Palestinian Authority and Hamas renaming the entire land to Palestine and denying Israel’s right to exist,” said Staver.
UNESCO already had declared the birthplace of Jesus in Bethlehem and another location in the “state of Palestine” as Islamic heritage sites. UNESCO said at one point it “firmly deplores the continuous storming of Al-Aqṣa Mosque/Al-Ḥaram Al-Sharif by Israeli right-wing extremists and uniformed forces, and urges Israel, the occupying Power, to take necessary measures to prevent provocative abuses that violate the sanctity and integrity of Al-Aqṣa Mosque/Al-Ḥaram Al-Sharif.”
East Jerusalem has been part of Israel since the 1967 war. Palestinians want the city as part of a future state. “Jews refer to the hilltop compound in Jerusalem’s Old City as the Temple Mount, site of the two Jewish biblical temples. Muslims refer to it as the Noble Sanctuary, and it is home to 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,” Fox News reported.
Netanyahu at that time issued a statement on Facebook he titled “The theatre of the absurd continues at the UN.” The statement reads:
Today UNESCO adopted its second decision this year denying the Jewish people’s connection to the Temple Mount, our holiest site for over three thousand years.
What’s next? A UNESCO decision denying the connection between peanut butter and jelly? Batman and Robin? Rock and roll?
Is it any wonder the UN has become a moral farce when UNESCO, the UN body tasked with preserving history, denies and distorts history?
The anti-Israel agenda at the United Nations even has moved into the farcical at times. WND reported that Arabs at the U.N. were placing the blame for Palestinian men who beat their wives on Israel. The outlandish claim came during a meeting of the U.N. Human Rights Council when a report on violence against women was submitted, reported Palestinian Media Watch. According to PMW, the report claimed there was “a clear linkage between the prolonged occupation and violence against women.”
However, U.N. Watch Director Hillel Neuer responded immediately.
The report on “violence against women” was undermined, he explained, “by its subservience to the recurring and unproven assumption … that there is, quote, ‘clear linkage between the prolonged occupation and violence against women.’
“In other words, what you are saying is as follows: When Palestinian men beat their wives, it’s Israel’s fault.”
He asked where was the evidence for a “clear linkage.”
“Where is the data. I don’t see it anywhere in the report,” he said.
And he questioned why those submitting the report had not done the basic comparisons, such as looking at similar statistics from Lebanon, Jordan, and other Arab nations.
“Why have you not done so?” he asked.
Besides, he said, Arab television routinely promotes messages to men about how to beat their wives, he said.
The U.N.’s actions also caught the attention of the U.S. Senate, where all 100 senators signed a letter calling for a change in the international body’s behavior toward Israel.
“Too often, the U.N. is exploited as a vehicle for targeting Israel rather than as a forum committed to advancing the lofty goals of its founders,” the letter stated. “These actions have at times reinforced the broader scourge of anti-Semitism, and distracted certain U.N. entities from their original missions.
“As both the U.N.’s principal founding member and its largest contributor, the United States should insist on reform. As duly elected representatives of the American people, we take seriously our responsibility to conduct rigorous oversight of U.S. engagement at the United Nations. We are deeply committed to international leadership and to advancing respect for human rights.
“But continued targeting of Israel by the U.N. Human Rights Council and other U.N. entities is unacceptable. This situation must change. We urge you to engage member states in a comprehensive effort to directly confront and root out this bias.”