An October 2016 vote by UNESCO condemned Israeli activities around the Jewish Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu noted the farce of the resolution that distanced the Temple Mount from Judaism. The UNESCO resolution even prompted the spokesperson for the UN Secretary General to read a prepared statement on two occasions, on October 14 and again on October 18:
“… the Secretary‑General reaffirms the importance of the Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls for the three monotheistic religions and stresses the importance of the religious and historical link of the Jewish, Muslim and Christian peoples to the holy site. The Al Aqsa Mosque/Al‑Haram al‑Sharif, the sacred shrine of Muslims, is also the Har HaBayit — or Temple Mount — whose Western Wall is the holiest place in Judaism, a few steps away from the Saint Sepulchre church and the Mount of Olives, which is revered by Christians. The Secretary‑General reiterates that any perceived undertaking to repudiate the undeniable common reverence for these sites does not serve the interests of peace and will only feed violence and radicalism. He also calls on all sides to uphold the status quo in relation to the holy sites in the Old City of Jerusalem.”
The statements made many pro-Israel people happy, as it was a marked improvement from the UNESCO resolution.
However, the statement continued two terrible falsehoods.
First, the Temple Mount itself – and where the Dome of the Rock currently sits – is the holiest place in Judaism, not the Western Wall. The Western Wall is simply the place where Suleiman I relegated Jews to pray after he kicked them off of the Temple Mount while he “improved” Jerusalem around the 1560s. Before the edict, Jews had prayed on the Temple Mount for centuries.
Over the last 500-or-so years, Jews have come to venerate the Western Wall as holy, even though it has no more inherent holiness than the southern or eastern retaining walls of the mount. For example, rabbis do not recommend a person visit a mikvah, a ritual bath, before visiting the Western Wall, as they insist for Jewish visitors to the Temple Mount.
Second, the status of the Jewish Temple Mount in Jerusalem is akin to the Kaaba Stone in Mecca, Saudi Arabia for Muslims. It does not even have an equal in Christianity. Neither Islam nor Christianity have any sites in Jerusalem that are as holy to their religions, as the Jewish Temple Mount is to Judaism.
While it was appreciated that the spokesperson for the UNSG chose to politely distance himself from the horrible UNESCO resolution, it would have been far better to:
- clearly condemn the UNESCO resolution
- state that it is the Temple Mount, not the Western Wall that is the holiest spot for Jews
- not try to equate the holiness and significance of the Temple Mount for Jews, with the other monotheistic religions’ holy places in Jerusalem
It is worthwhile to educate Jews about these basic facts as well.
Related First.One.Through articles:
Subscribe YouTube channel: FirstOneThrough
Join Facebook group: FirstOne Through Israel Analysis