UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer noted that only a small number of nations stood with Israel on the votes, citing as an example a vote to renew the mandate of a special committee to investigate Israeli practices, saying 86 voted yes, 71 abstained and seven opposed.
The US, Canada and Australia joined Israel, backed by the Marshall Islands, Micronesia and Palau. Those abstaining included EU members, as well as several from Africa and Latin America, including Argentina, Mexico and Costa Rica, UN Watch said.
“Even as Syrian President Bashar Assad is preparing for the final massacre of his own people in Aleppo, the UN is about to adopt a resolution – drafted and co-sponsored by Syria – which falsely condemns Israel for ‘repressive measures’ against Syrian citizens on the Golan Heights. It’s obscene,” said Neuer.
Separately, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided to return Israel’s Ambassador to UNESCO, Carmel Shama-Hacohen, to Paris. Netanyahu had asked the envoy to return to Israel last month to protest the UNESCO Jerusalem votes.
Two years after he was almost assassinated at event calling for right to pray at Judaism’s holiest site, Yehuda Glick is now a Likud MK, and his cause has entered the halls of power
On Monday, the Temple Mount activists ascended to the Knesset. They came by the dozens to attend the Dorshei Zion organization’s annual conference, which coincides with the anniversary of a visit by the Jewish sage Maimonides to the holy site 851 years ago. And they came to celebrate the recovery of former activist Yehuda Glick, who was shot four times by a Palestinian terrorist outside the organization’s convention in Jerusalem two years ago to the day, according to the Hebrew calendar.
Monday’s conference was the first to be held in Israel’s parliament and was organized in coordination with Glick, now an energetic Likud MK, who has arguably done more than anybody else of late to inject the subject of Jewish prayer rights at the volatile, sacred compound into public discourse.
Once a fringe issue, Temple Mount activism has in recent years become increasingly mainstream in Israeli Orthodox circles, even as Palestinians attributed the year-long wave of terror attacks to their public’s anger at ostensible imminent changes by Israel to arrangements on the holy site, which Israel firmly denies planning.
The growing popularity of the movement appeared to be corroborated by the location of Monday’s conference, in the heart of Israel’s political realm, and the appeals issued by ministers from the governing Likud and right-wing Jewish Home parties for greater access to the site. Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein and Glick also used the event to announce the launch of a new Temple Mount lobby in the Knesset.
The at-times quirky, at-times emotive event also featured a history lesson from a self-proclaimed “Quranic Zionist” sheikh and awards given to Israel’s public security minister, to the mother of 13-year-old terror victim Hallel Ariel, who was stabbed to death in her bed in June, and to a young activist who was recently detained by police — after attempting to carry out a ritual Passover sacrifice on the Mount.
‘Open the gates’
Formerly a frequent visitor to the compound, before a year-long ban on lawmakers visiting the site was implemented, Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel (Jewish Home) used his address at the Monday gathering to implore Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to “open the gates” to the Temple Mount for Jewish worshipers where, under the status quo agreement with its Jordanian custodians, non-Muslims may visit but may not pray.
“Open the gates to the Temple Mount,” urged Ariel. “End the disgrace, end the wretchedness, end the lack of sovereignty.”
The Jewish Home minister also touched on the ongoing ban preventing him and the other legislators from visiting the site, telling audience members he was “jealous” of them.
“Unfortunately, the prime minister’s advisers and he himself are preventing it, unjustly, wrongly,” he added.
Ariel, who was filmed reciting a prayer on the Mount last October, was preceded on the stage by his fellow party member, Deputy Defense Minister Eli Ben Dahan, who also called for the government to change the status quo. In his previous position as deputy minister of religious affairs, Ben Dahan prepared regulations on Jewish prayer at the site, he said. “The government of Israel must adopt the regulations as soon as possible,” he declared.
In her remarks, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) said Israel’s Foreign Ministry would begin gifting foreign dignitaries with archaeological finds from the nearby City of David, in the wake of the recent UNESCO resolutions that ignored Jewish ties to the holy site, and in the run-up to the 50th anniversary of the Six Day War in which Israel captured the Old City and the Temple Mount.
“I urge everyone who has not ascended to the Temple Mount to visit the Temple Mount,” said Hotovely.
Her fellow Likud MKs — including Edelstein, Jerusalem Minister Ze’ev Elkin, and Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan — were more tempered in their support, lavishing praise on Glick and supporting Jewish prayer at the site, but stopping short of endorsing a change to the status quo.
Accepting an award from the organization for his efforts to improve the situation at the contested site, Erdan said the issue was “very, very complicated, and very explosive.”
Distinguishing between his personal views on the subject and his professional responsibilities, Erdan said, “In my personal view, our right to the Temple Mount is unshakable.”
The minister, who oversees the police, added that the status quo “is discriminatory toward the Jewish people. What can you do? That’s the truth.”
Still, he emphasized that neither the police nor any single lawmaker can change the status quo, but only “the political leadership” — an apparent reference to Netanyahu — in coordination with Jordan and other countries, can.
Edelstein announced that he had signed up to a new lobby with Glick in the parliament to advance the issue of Temple Mount prayer.
Like many of the other speakers, Edelstein referred to the much-gabbed about UNESCO resolutions, calling them a “joke.” “You can’t argue with a joke,” he said.
A Zionist sheikh, the mother of a terror victim
Sitting in the front row and flanked by his wife and right-wing MKs, Glick got up to shake the hands of each of the speakers. But the US-born Orthodox rabbi saved his warmest greeting — a bear hug — for Likud MK Amir Ohana, the party’s sole openly gay lawmaker, who was Glick’s volunteer bodyguard after the shooting.
The conference also saw a Zionist sheikh read passages from the Bible (to applause) and the Quran (less applause), arguing passionately in favor of Jewish ties to the Temple Mount.
Several activists received awards from the organization, including bereaved mother Rena Ariel, who was honored by the agriculture minister, a cousin by marriage. A composed and fervent Ariel, a founder of the “Women for the Temple” movement, accepted the recognition to a standing ovation, with a call for more visits to the site, particularly by children.
“I’m a little embarrassed that after 50 years, we need to beg to pray on the Temple Mount… We still have an opportunity to fix it, because this year is the year of Jerusalem in the education system — let’s put the Temple Mount at the center, let’s show the Temple Mount to the children and the families, and next year this conference will be on the Temple Mount,” she said.
Also honored was activist Refael Morris, who runs the “Returning to the Mount” movement, and who was detained in April by police en route to the Temple Mount, live goat in tow, to prepare a ritual Passover sacrifice.
In his speech, Morris took an eyebrow-raising departure from the conciliatory tone adopted by most of the conference’s speakers, who urged Jewish prayer alongside Christian and Muslim worship. He called for the building of a third Temple and razing the Muslim sites. “And we will also conquer Jordan and Syria,” he added, and “build a real Jewish state here.”
Times Of Israel
Russian PM says his country never denied Israel’s and Jews’ right to Jerusalem, Temple Mount, Western Wall.
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev spoke with Channel 2 about the Israel-Russia relationship.
During the interview Medvedev was asked about UNESCO’s decision to deny history and claim Israel has no connection to the Western Wall and other holy places in Jerusalem.
“I think this subject has been blown out of proportion. UNESCO has made at least ten similar decisions, worded almost identically to this one. Our country never denied Israel’s or the Jewish people’s rights to Jerusalem, the Temple Mount, and the Western Wall. These are clear rights and it would be absurd to deny them. This decision is definitely not made to be anti-Israel and there’s no reason to politicize it,” Medvedev said.
He also noted Israel’s positive relationship with Russia in many areas.
“We have a few central projects on the table. Pharmaceutics, agricultural technology, energy, and gas,” he said.
However, Medvedev does not intend to cut his ties with Iran, Israel’s greatest enemy.
“We have a warm relationship with Israel, a good relationship that I want to strengthen. At the same time, we have relations with other countries as well, including Iran. During the period of sanctions against Iran, I ordered Russia to stop selling missiles to Iran, and when the sanctions were lifted, I acted accordingly,” Medvedev explained.
Medvedev was also asked to send a message to Russian expats in Israel.
“Israel is truly a special country for us. Many emigrants know the Russian language and mentality, and that allows us to communicate more actively. That has a lot of value. I’m counting on that, and hoping it will bear fruit,” Medvedev concluded.
Israel National News
PM tells Italian president Israel was ‘gravely disappointed’ by Rome’s abstention in UNESCO vote on Jerusalem, pleased by pledge it won’t happen again
November 2, 2016, 9:08 pm
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday told visiting Italian President Sergio Mattarella that Israel was “gravely disappointed” by Italy’s abstention in a UNESCO vote last month that ignored Jewish and Christian links to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, but was heartened to hear a subsequent pledge from Italy’s prime minister that it would oppose such resolutions in the future.
He also told his guest that the conflict with the Palestinians was never about their desire for their own state, but rather about their wish to destroy the Jewish state, and he insisted that it was wrong to see West Bank settlements as the root of the problem. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, he asserted, won’t recognize a Jewish state “in any borders.”
“This conflict is not and never was about a Palestinian state, which successive Israeli governments, including this prime minister, have been willing to arrange — a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes the Jewish state,” Netanyahu said, speaking at the start of a meeting with Mattarella at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem. “It was and is about the Jewish state, and unless and until our Palestinian neighbors face this, confront these demons, give up the ghost of trying to destroy the Jewish state by this or that means, peace will be harder to achieve.”
Noting that his guest had just met with the Abbas, Netanyahu charged that the PA leader “continues to refuse to accept a Jewish state in any boundaries, and this remains the core of the conflict — this persistent Palestinian refusal to accept a Jewish state in any configuration.”
The prime minister declared that criticism of Jewish settlements in the West Bank, land that the Palestinians want for a future state, is misguided. “I think the focus that people (place) on settlements is wrong. (The conflict) preceded the settlements by half a century. And when we left Gaza and all the settlements (in 2005), they continued to fire rockets at us,” he said.
Netanyahu said he had approached both “Hamas and President Abbas,” and asked if they would recognize the Jewish state if the settlement issue is resolved. “And they won’t, because the real settlement issue is the settlements of Tel Aviv, Jaffa, Haifa, Akko; the persistent refusal is to recognize a Jewish state in any borders,” he said.
Netanyahu recalled having seen the Arch of Titus in Rome which depicts the spoils of war looted by the Roman army from Jerusalem after it destroyed the Second Temple in 70 AD.
“I raise this because we’ve just had an absurd decision of UNESCO that said that the Jewish people have no connection to the Temple Mount. Well, the Arch of Titus was built by Titus’s brother, the Emperor Domitian. He wasn’t a Zionist propagandist. And he obviously was depicting that long, thousands-year connection to the Temple Mount, to Jerusalem and to this country of the Jewish people.”
Although Israel was disappointed by Italy’s abstention from voting on the resolution, Netanyahu said he was encouraged by Italian Prime Minister Renzi’s statement since then, vowing that Italy would change its voting position on future resolutions.
“UNESCO’s attempt to erase Jewish history is an attempt to say that Jews really don’t have any connection to our land. It’s not only false, blatantly false, it also makes the achievement of peace harder,” he said. “Denying our history is one of the means of denying the Jewish state. This is the bad news.”
“Now, the good news. The good news, the incredible news, one that fills me with great hope, is that there is a dramatic change taking place in the Arab world, and that change is that many of the Arab countries see Israel no longer as their enemy, but as their ally, even their vital ally, in fighting against Islamist terrorism, militant Islam, either led by Iran or led by Da’esh,” Netanyahu said, using the Hebrew acronym for the Islamic State group.
Times Of Israel
A few days ago, Israel recalled its ambassador to UNESCO for consultations after the U.N. culture body adopted a second resolution in two weeks that Israeli leaders said ignored Judaism’s connection with one of Jerusalem’s holiest sites, Reuters reported.
The resolution adopted by UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee in Paris refers to the compound as a “Muslim holy site of worship”, just as its resolution Oct. 13.
The latest vote, like the first, deals with the safeguarding of the city’s religious heritage.
At the Paris meeting, Israeli ambassador Carmel Shama Hacohen dropped a copy of the resolution into a trash bin.
According to Haaretz, contacts were made by Israel and the US via “secret channels,” which culminated in a panel session Wednesday morning when Palestinians and representatives of the Arab countries “were surprised” that Croatian and Tanzanian ambassadors demanded a secret vote, rather than passing the decision by consensus, as is permitted by UNESCO regulations.
Meanwhile, the PLO voiced its support for the resolution in a statement Wednesday saying that, “Contrary to what the Israeli government claims, the resolution that was voted by UNESCO aims at reaffirming the importance of Jerusalem for the three monotheistic religions,” adding that Al-Aqsa “continues to be threatened by the systematic incitement and provocative actions of the Israeli government and extremist Jewish groups.”
“Through an orchestrated campaign, Israel has been using archaeological claims and distortion of facts as a way to legitimize the annexation of Occupied East Jerusalem,” the statement added.
The resolution’s approval also came after reports emerged Tuesday suggesting that Israeli police would now recommend permitting members of Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, to visit the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, after they were banned last October in an attempt to ease tensions at the site.
Tensions around occupied East Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque compound were a main contributor to a wave of unrest that began last October, after right-wing Israelis made frequent visits to the site during the Jewish holiday season this time last year.
Two weeks ago, Israel lashed out at UNESCO for renewing a similar resolution that condemned it for restricting Muslim access to the site, in a part of Jerusalem captured by Israeli forces in a 1967 war.
Israel considers all of Jerusalem as its capital, a position that is not recognized internationally. Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of an independent state they seek in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Middle East Observer
- UNESCO has joined forces with Islamic State. The fundamentalists now have a new weapon: resolutions passed by servile international bodies.
- An earlier delay and the opposition of UNESCO’s chief, Irina Bokova, had raised hopes that this act of jihadist, barbaric, unjust, and, frankly, arrogant supremacism might be voted down. It was not. Now a new lie was given the sanction of the world’s largest and most unaccountable body whose reason for being is to preserve significant sites, not to bowdlerize them.
- Lies by UNESCO to rewrite history, erasing all traces of Judaism and Christianity to favour a jihadist Islamic fancy, were already under way in 2015. UNESCO fraudulently renamed two ancient Biblical Jewish sites, Rachel’s Tomb and the Cave of the Patriarchs, as Islamic sites. Historically, Islam did not even exist until the seventh century.
- This is the history of Islam, how it takes over — with both hard jihad (violence) and soft jihad (usurping history, migration [hijrah], political and cultural infiltration), and intimidation (soft jihad with the threat of hard jihad underneath it). What is even more saddening is that often, as with this vote, it is done with the West’s cooperation and voluntary submission.
- Before the United Nations, with its authoritarian, anti-democratic voting blocs, finishes eradicating Western, Judeo-Christian civilization, as it is clearly trying to do, it is high time for Western democracies to run, not walk, away, before further harm comes to them too, as it surely promises to do.
UNESCO last August planned to vote on the historical status of Jerusalem’s Temple Mount and its associated Western Wall. Back then, this author stated that UNESCO’s plan was to deny any Jewish link to this most central of all Jewish holy sites, to trash a history going back thousands of years, and to claim the Mount and the Wall as Islamic sites.
Islam believes that it is eternal and had therefore preceded the other two great monotheisms, Judaism and Christianity, even though it was only to become visible to the world through Mohammad in the seventh century AD, but entitled to elbow out the two older religions.
Lies by UNESCO to rewrite history, erasing all traces of Judaism and Christianity to favour a jihadist Islamic fancy, were already under way in 2015. UNESCO fraudulently renamed two ancient Biblical Jewish sites, Rachel’s Tomb and the Cave of the Patriarchs — abracadabra — Islamic sites.
Historically, Islam did not even exist until the seventh century.
This is the history of Islam, how it takes over — with both hard jihad (violence) and soft jihad (usurping history, migration [hijrah], political and cultural infiltration), and intimidation (soft jihad with the threat of hard jihad underneath it). What is even more saddening is that often, as with this vote, it is done with the West’s cooperation and voluntary submission.
The Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron is now, according to this deeply compromised body, supposedly the “Ibrahimi Mosque,” and Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem is supposedly the “Bilal ibn Rabah Mosque,” even though it never could have been a mosque. As the saying goes, “calling a cat a pig does not make it one.”
|UNESCO’s latest resolution to deny any Jewish link to Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, the most central of all Jewish holy sites, is not the first time the body has tried to rewrite and falsify a history going back thousands of years. UNESCO had previously declared the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron (left) as the “Ibrahimi Mosque,” and Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem (right) as the “Bilal ibn Rabah Mosque.” (Images source: Wikimedia Commons)|
Now a new lie has been given the sanction of the world’s largest and most unaccountable body, whose reason for being is to preserve significant sites, not to bowdlerize them.
On October 13, the news was broadcast that UNESCO had passed a majority vote endorsing this rape of archaeological and Biblical history. On the following Tuesday, the resolution was endorsed by the body’s executive board. If your majority, however, consists of members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (the OIC, a bloc consisting of 56 Islamic states plus “Palestine”, and possibly the largest bloc at the UN), a fraudulent result such as this should probably not come as a surprise.
An earlier delay and the opposition of UNESCO’s chief, Irina Bokova, had raised hopes that this act of jihadist, barbaric, unjust, and, frankly, arrogant supremacism might be voted down. It was not. Following the vote, Bokova issued a powerful statement condemning it, saying, among other things:
“The heritage of Jerusalem is indivisible, and each of its communities has a right to the explicit recognition of their history and relationship with the city. To deny, conceal or erase any of the Jewish, Christian or Muslim traditions undermines the integrity of the site, and runs counter to the reasons that justified its inscription on the UNESCO World Heritage list.
“Nowhere more than in Jerusalem do Jewish, Christian and Muslim heritage and traditions share space and interweave to the point that they support each other. These cultural and spiritual traditions build on texts and references, known by all, that are an intrinsic part of the identities and history of peoples.”
Now the Christian and Jewish worlds will have to deal with the resolution’s ramifications, the first of which is that all democracies would be wise immediately to abandon the United Nations, or at the very least to stop funding it, before further harm comes to them too, as it surely promises to do.
The resolution was first proposed to UNESCO by seven Muslim states (Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, and Sudan on behalf of the Palestinian Authority — all OIC groupies — in October 2015. Any reputable body empowered to protect ancient religious sites would have rejected it out of hand and given those responsible a dusty answer.
UNESCO’s parent body, the United Nations, has over many years increasingly shown itself as untransparent, unaccountable and thoroughly disreputable — from its $100 billion, never-prosecuted, oil-for-food embezzlement scandal exposed in 2004, to “Peacekeepers” who demand sex from children in exchange for food; to its incessant, fabricated persecution of one member state, Israel, while giving unlimited passes to the most ostentatious violators of human rights in other nations.
Before the UN, with its authoritarian, anti-democratic voting blocs, finishes eradicating Western, Judeo-Christian civilization, as it is clearly trying to do, it is high time for Western democracies to run, not walk, away.
Of UNESCO’s 195 member states, 35 are fully Islamic nations, another 21 are members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and four are OIC observer states. That makes 60 who represent a bloc favourable to Muslim-inspired resolutions, yet UNESCO’s Board consists of only 58 members. That board approved Resolution 19 with 33 votes in favour, six against and 17 abstentions. Ghana and Turkmenistan were absent altogether. Only six countries voted against the resolution — the US, the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, Lithuania and Estonia. Revealingly, France, Spain, Sweden, Russia and Slovenia were among those who supported it. It is not hard to identify the source of the majority vote.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dismissed the move as another “absurd” UN resolution:
“UNESCO ignores the unique Jewish connection to the Temple Mount, the site of two temples for 1,000 years, and the place to which Jews prayed for thousands of years… The UN is rewriting a basic part of human history and proving that there is no low to which it will not reach.”
Jewish patience in the Holy Land is being tested to the limit.
UNESCO’s vote is just the latest example of Muslim supremacism as expressed in the demolition, re-definition, or outright expropriation of the places of worship, shrines, and other buildings linked to other faiths — invariably faiths that have long preceded Islam itself, including Hinduism and Buddhism, as well as Judaism and Christianity. The process began in the year 630, two years before the prophet Muhammad’s death, when his forces conquered his hometown of Mecca. During a brief stay there, before returning to Medina, he ordered all of the 360 idols in the Ka’aba, and all those in private homes, to be destroyed. The Ka’aba itself, long a centre of pagan worship, was transformed overnight into the most important building of the Islamic faith, the Qibla or the spot towards which Muslims still turn in prayer five times a day. It sits at the heart of the Masjid al-Haram, the most important mosque in the Muslim world.
Early Muslims did more than expropriate the building for their own purposes. They created a legend to justify their possession of the site.
But the Qur’an and subsequent Muslim tradition are not content to re-establish history, bringing Abraham out of the Land of Canaan as far down as the Arabian Peninsula. They transform Abraham himself. According to the Qur’an (3:67): “Abraham was neither a Jew (yahudian) nor a Christian (nasranian), but was rather a pure worshipper of God (hanifan), a Muslim….”
This forms part of a broader enterprise. In Islamic doctrine, all true, monotheist religion has, from the beginning, been only Islam. Thus, Adam was the first Muslim and the first prophet. Abraham was a Muslim and a prophet. Moses was a Muslim and a prophet. Noah was a Muslim and a prophet. Jesus was a Muslim and a prophet. In the beginning, everyone was a Muslim and all land belonged to Islam. In the Qur’an, we read:
“Say, ‘We believe in God, and in that which was sent down to us, and in that which was sent down to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, and in what Moses and Jesus were given, and in what the prophets were given form their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and unto Him we submit.”
That last phrase reads nahnu lahu muslimun. It can be read generically, meaning “those who submit themselves to God”; or specifically to mean “We are Muslims.”
The belief that all true religions involve submission to God and that, in this sense, all true religion may be defined as “Islam” (literally “submission”), may be taken as a unifying, comprehensive declaration of a universal truth, without prejudice to anyone except “idolaters” such as Hindus and Buddhists.
But this generalization was soon forgotten when Muslims found themselves in competition with the followers of other faiths: Jews in Medina, Christians throughout the Byzantine empire, or Zoroastrians in Iran. Muhammad had originally preached his religion as one in harmony with the views of the “People of the Book,” the Jews and Christians who had been sent their own scriptures by God. But not long after his taking control of Medina, he turned on the city’s three important Jewish tribes, expelling two, then attacking the third, the Banu Qurayza, beheading all the men and teenage males and taking the women and children as slaves. From here on, the Qur’an is rife with condemnations of the Jews as a people and of Christians as corrupters of scripture: “O believers, do not take Jews and Christians as your friends” (Qur’an 5:51)
Once Muslim armies went out to conquer Persia, Turkey, Greece, the Levant, all of North Africa, the Balkans, Hungary, Poland and then conquered Portugal, Andalusia in Southern Spain and other Christian territories, all sense of an identity with the People of the Book as, in a sense, fellow Muslims, went out the window, to be replaced by a sense of them as dhimmi or subjected people, the preservation of whose lives and property were contingent on the payment of a protection tax (the jizya) and on agreeing to live as humiliated denizens under special laws of subjugation in lands ruled by Islamic caliphates.
One consequence of this unequal relationship were countless rules, including special, marked clothing that predated the compulsory yellow Star of David that Jews were forced to wear during Hitler’s Third Reich, and that churches and synagogues could not be founded, repaired, rebuilt or given prominence in competition with mosques; and there could be no audible summons to Jewish or Christian prayers.
More than that, the occupation and transformation of lands of earlier religions — Persia, Turkey, Greece, all of North Africa and much of Eastern Europe — proceeded apace during unstoppable Islamic conquests. In Jerusalem, two structures were erected on the Temple Mount (giving rise to the claim for UNESCO’s recognition): the Al-Aqsa Mosque (Masjid al-Aqsa, “the Farthest Mosque”, although no one has a clue where that might have been; very possibly in Arabia) and the Qubbat al-Sakhra, or Dome of the Rock, constructed on the alleged site of Abraham’s aborted sacrifice, no longer of Isaac but now Ishmael, the progenitor of the Arabs. Both were built within the first century of Islam.
There is no need here to list all the churches converted to mosques during succeeding centuries. Most notable are the Hagia Sophia churches of the Christian Byzantine empire in Constantinople, Eregli, Nicaea, and Trebizond, refashioned as mosques after the Ottoman conquest of 1453.
Today, the Islamic State has destroyed or converted churches, shrines, and other monuments (including Muslim sites) in Iraq and Syria.
Similar devastation took place under the various Islamic states in India, with something like 2000 Hindu temples destroyed to make way for mosques and other Muslim structures, while a similar fate befell others.
This extraordinary level of fanaticism is not unique to Islam (one only has to think of Oliver Cromwell and his puritans in England), but it has been far more extensive and has continued for many more centuries.
It is a totalitarian puritanism. Today’s resolution against the Jewish faith must be put in this context.
Today, the Mecca and Medina of the first and second centuries of the Islamic faith have been all but wrecked, not by the Islamic State or any other radical entity, but by the Wahhabi Saudi government. In the past two decades, major historical sites in Mecca and Medina, all related to the lifetime of the Islamic Prophet Mohammad and shortly after, have been destroyed or disfigured to the point where neither city is recognizable save for the Ka’ba and the Grand Mosque in Mecca, and the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina. And the two major mosques are themselves much expanded modern constructions.
UNESCO has put Jewish sites with Muslim names into Muslim hands, in the heart of Israel’s capital, to try slowly to destroy the Jewish state. UNESCO is not fooling anyone.
It may not be long before Christian holy places and churches in Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Nazareth will also be handed over on a plate to placate the forces of Islam, fearful of what they may do not just in the Middle East, but in Europe, North America and Europe, happy to have someone finally try to eliminate those supposedly pesky Jews. All Judeo-Christian countries would be wise to pull out of the UN, or at least cease funding it — before it is too late for them, too.
Denis MacEoin is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Gatestone Institute. He has just completed work on a large study of Western concerns about Islam.
 See William Montgomery Watt, Muhammad at Medina, Oxford University Press, 1956, p. 69. And see Yousef Meri, Ka’aba, Oxford Bibliographies Online Research Guide, Oxford University Press, 2011
 There is more than one version of this tale, but it is broadly this: the Ka’aba was first built by the Prophet Adam with the help of angels, then destroyed in Noah’s flood, and finally rebuilt by the Prophet Abraham and his son Ishmael. The Qur’an itself advances the story about Abraham’s role:
“And [remember] when We made the House [that is, the Ka’aba] a place of visitation [a pilgrimage site] for mankind, and a sanctuary, ‘Take the place of Abraham as a place of prayer.’ And we made a covenant with Abraham and Ishmael, ‘Purify My House for those who circumambulate, those who live there in retreat, and those who bow and prostrate.” …. And [remember] when Abraham and Ishmael were raising the foundations of the House, ‘Our Lord, accept it from us. Truly, You are the Hearing and the Knowing.'” [Qur’an 2: 125, 127]
 The former Portuguese cathedral of Tangier, now the city’s Great Mosque; the Christian basilica of St. John the Baptist, captured in 634 and turned into the Great Umayyad Mosque, one of the oldest, and considered the fourth holiest site in Islam; the small Catholic Basilica of Saint Vincent of Lérins, after the Umayyad conquest demolished to make way for the Great Mosque of Córdoba (restored as a cathedral after the Renconquista in 1236). Under the Ottomans, churches in Cyprus and Hungary were replaced as mosques; and as French colonies became independent in the 20th century, many churches were converted into mosques, including the St. Philip Cathedral in Algiers, the Cathédrale Notre-Dame des Sept Douleurs in Constantine (Algeria), the Tripoli Cathedral and the Benghazi Cathedral in Libya.
 The vast Jannat al-Baqi cemetery, which holds so many remains of Muhammad’s family, close companions and the earliest Muslim saints, has been levelled, and all domes and mausoleums turned to dust. That act followed earlier levellings by Wahhabis in 1906 and the ultra-Wahhabi Ikhwan in 1925. Those included the graves of the martyrs of the Battle of Uhud and that of Hamza, the prophet’s uncle and most beloved supporter. So too the Mosque of Fatima (Muhammad’s daughter), the Mosque of the Manaratayn (the twin minarets), and the cupola that marked the burial place of the prophet’s incisor tooth. Medina as well, the home of Muhammad’s Ethiopian wife, Maryam, where his son Ibrahim was born, has been paved over. In Mecca, the house of his first wife, Khadija, the first person to whom he divulged his mission, has been turned into public toilets. In 1998, the grave of the prophet’s mother, Amina bint Wahb, was bulldozed in Abwa, after which gasoline was poured on it and set alight.
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It is a struggle, he said, “over our roots, our past, our right to our homeland – the land of Israel, our capital Jerusalem.” It is a struggle, he added, against “those who want to erase our past, and our future – and, therefore, we will continue to fight over the truth and defend, build and develop the State of Israel in all spheres as a model nation and one of the most advanced in the world.”
The monument he dedicated, in the shape of a sinking ship, bears the words spoken by Menachem Begin, “There will never be a civil war.”
Sixteen Irgun fighters and three IDF soldiers were killed when David Ben-Gurion gave the order to fire on the Altalena Irgun arms ship in June 1948 in what has since widely been viewed as a watershed moment in placing all the country’s weaponry under one authority.
To prevent civil war, Begin – then commander of the Irgun – ordered his men not to retaliate.
Many of those killed are buried in the Nahalat Yitzhak cemetery.
“Pride, pain and brotherhood is the essence of the Altalena story,” said Netanyahu.
First of all, he said, the Altalena symbolized pride and uncompromising loyalty in the idea of a Jewish national home because the ship carried on board hundreds of motivated youth from the Diaspora who wanted to become fighters in the national cause, as well as large amounts of arms that were to be sent to the different fronts during the War of Independence.
With the pride, however, came the pain “which continues to this day,” he said.
“As great was the pride of the Altalena, so too was the tragedy of the Altalena,” he declared.
“Only five weeks after the establishment of the state, Jews fired against Jews, brother raised his hand against brother. And all that as a result of an excessive sense of power, hasty decision making and unnecessary use of force. The bitter result was the spilling of blood that left a deep and painful scar on the soul of the nation.”
The answer to the pain, he said, was “brotherhood.”
“Against the hasty order by government officials to open fire, Menachem Begin will forever be remembered for having prevented a much greater tragedy through his forbearance, self-control and greatness of spirit,” the prime minister said.
“He bequeathed to us unity; not civil war, but brotherhood.”
For a man who just lost a significant vote, Israel’s Ambassador to UNESCO Carmel Shama-Hacohen was having what he described as a “dream” day.
Israel had always known that it would lose the vote at the World Heritage Committee meeting in Paris on a resolution that ignores Jewish ties to the Temple Mount. So it worked instead to ensure that the text was as benign as possible and that it passed with minimal support.
It involved an Israeli bluff to counter a Palestinian threat intended to pressure the WHC to pass the resolution by consensus.
The Palestinian Authority and Jordan had warned that they would strengthen the Muslim claims to the site in the resolution, unless there were a consensus vote on the existing text, which was a softer version than the one the WHC approved last year.
Israel allowed them to believe they had the consensus support. Part of that strategy was the release of statements to the media about how Israel expected a major loss at the WHC meeting in Paris.
Assuming a consensus support, the Palestinians and the Jordanians submitted the softer version of the resolution for a vote.
It was only until the meeting opened, and Tanzania and Croatia called for a secret ballot, that the Palestinians and the Jordanians suddenly understood that events would not go as planed.
For over half an hour the Arab countries on the committee, led by Lebanon and with the help of Cuba, attempted and ultimately failed to push forward a consensus motion.
The vote that then took place was on the less contentious text, particularly compared to the one that the committee approved in 2015.
The World Heritage Committee votes annually on Jerusalem, so that it can reaffirm its placement on the list of endangered World Heritage Sites. Wednesday’s resolution was also less problematic than the one approved earlier this month by UNESCO’s 58-member executive board.
Among the critical differences was the restoration of the Jewish terms of reference for the Western Wall, which in past resolutions had been in quotation marks or parentheses, with the text referring to the holy Jewish site only by its Muslim name, the Buraq Wall.
There were fewer references to the Temple Mount’s Muslim name of al-Haram al-Sharif, and only one statement that it is a Muslim holy site of worship.
The 2016 WHC text spoke once of the Israeli “occupation” authorities, but dropped the 10 references in the 2015 text to Israel as an “occupying power.”
Shama-Hacohen said that it had been unclear until Wednesday morning how much support Israel had. In the end, he said, only the Arab states on the committee, along with Cuba and Vietnam, supported the resolution.
“We succeeded in surprising them [the Palestinians and the Arab states] at the last minute,” Shama-Hacohen said. “Credit for this is due to the Foreign Ministry and the Prime Minister’s Office.
“I want to issue a special thanks to two brave nations, Croatia and Tanzania, that lay on the fence for Israel and publicly asked for a vote, [and] stood against the wishes of the Arab world,” Shama-Hacohen said. He also thanked the United States for the significant role that it played.
“With respect to the content, the Arab nations had no choice but to beat an almost complete retreat on the issue of the Western Wall,” Shama- Hacohen said.
The problem that remained was referring to the Temple Mount solely by its Muslim name, al-Haram al-Sharif, he said. “But that issue will also be solved one day, and the truth will win out.”
Reference to consignment of wineskins ‘to Jerusalem’ appears on 2,700-year-old First Temple-era scrap believed plundered from Judean Desert cave
October 26, 2016
A rare, ancient papyrus dating to the First Temple Period — 2,700 years ago — has been found to bear the oldest known mention of Jerusalem in Hebrew.
The fragile text, believed plundered from a Judean Desert cave, was apparently acquired several years. Radiocarbon dating has determined it is from the 7th century BCE, making it one of just three extant Hebrew papyri from that period, and predating the Dead Sea Scrolls by centuries.
The slip of papyrus, which was being formally unveiled by the Israel Antiquities Authority on Wednesday, measures 11 centimeters by 2.5 centimeters (4.3 inches by 1 inch). Its two lines of jagged black paleo-Hebrew script appear to have been a dispatch note recording the delivery of two wineskins “to Jerusalem,” the Judean Kingdom’s capital city.
The fact that the note was written on papyrus, rather than cheaper clay ostraca, suggests the consignment of wineskins may have been sent to a person of high status.
Additional details concerning the papyrus and its significance were to be announced at a press conference in Jerusalem by Israel Prize-winning Biblical scholar Shmuel Ahituv on Wednesday.
Ahituv studied the papyrus after its acquisition by an individual who has requested anonymity. The fragment’s preservation over the millennia suggests it was stored and discovered in an arid, cool location, possibly in a cave near the Dead Sea.
While there are more than a handful of ancient Hebrew texts etched into stone and scrawled on bits of pottery from this period, the only other known Hebrew papyrus texts from before the fall of the Judean Kingdom in 586 BCE were the Marzeah Papyrus, believed to be from mid-to-late 7th century BCE trans-Jordan, and a papyrus palimpsest found at Qumran.
The Israel Antiquities Authority has moved to prevent antiquities thieves plundering the country’s archaeological heritage, with particular emphasis on the limestone caves dotting the cliffs leading down to the Dead Sea. Those remote caverns have yielded two of the most significant collections of ancient Hebrew texts: the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Bar Kochba letters.
Stings in recent years have busted treasure hunters and traders in the act in Judean Desert caverns and Jerusalem hotels, while archaeologists race to excavate the area’s remaining caves in the hopes of discovering scientific data and, possibly, more scrolls.
In secret ballot, cultural body’s World Heritage Committee approves text using only the site’s Muslim name; 10 states vote in favor, 2 oppose, 8 abstain
October 26, 2016,
An important panel at the United Nations Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization (UNESCO) on Wednesday morning approved a controversial resolution that ignores Jewish and Christian ties to the Temple Mount. The decision came a week after a similar resolution was approved by the body and elicited angry responses from Israel, several world leaders and even the body’s own director-general.
Convening at its annual meeting in Paris, UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee adopted Draft Resolution 40COM 7A.13, entitled “Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls,” by a large majority, with 10 countries voting in favor, eight abstaining and two opposing the text. Eight “yes” votes were needed for the resolution to pass.
Jamaica was absent and did not participate in the vote.
The resolution, which accuses Israel of various violations, echoed last week’s decision in referring to the Temple Mount compound solely by its Muslim names, “Al-Aqsa Mosque/Al-Haram Al-Sharif,” and defined it only as “a Muslim holy site of worship.” As the site of the two Biblical temples, the mount is the holiest place in Judaism. But unlike last week’s resolution, the draft did not mention the importance of Jerusalem’s Old City for “the three monotheistic religions.”
At the opening of Wednesday’s session, the chairperson of the World Heritage Committee, Turkish diplomat Lale Ülker, proposed that the resolution be adopted “by consensus,” which would have given the appearance of a unanimous decision. A majority of member states supported her proposal, but Tanzania and Croatia asked for a secret ballot. Despite vociferous opposition by Lebanon, Tunisia, Cuba and other states that pushed for “consensus,” the committee’s legal adviser eventually ruled that a secret ballot would be held on the resolution, paving the way for the abstentions.
Despite frantic Israeli efforts to convince some of the committee’s member states to oppose the resolution, its eventual adoption did not come as a surprise to anyone in Jerusalem. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said late Tuesday night that UNESCO’s second vote on the matter within a few days showed the organization remains a “theater of the absurd.” He said that while “extremist Muslim forces are destroying mosques and churches, Israel is the only country in the region that protects them and allows freedom of worship.”
According to Israel’s envoy to UNESCO, Carmel Shama-Hacohen, Netanyahu instructed him to work to convince countries likely to abstain to go further and cast a vote against the resolution, arguing that an abstention would be akin to support. He described the resolution as “diplomatic jihad” against the Jewish people, Judaism and Christianity.
“Israel respects Muslim and other faiths and their presence in our holiest of places, and it is tragic that the other side doesn’t have a leadership that will do the same, but rather one that is engaged only in doing the exact opposite,” Shama-Hacohen said Tuesday during a meeting with UNESCO’s director-general, Irina Bokova. “This is no longer an Israeli-Palestinian struggle, but an Arab struggle against the entire Jewish world. It is clear that Israel and the Jewish people will survive this, yet it remains unclear whether UNESCO will.”
Shama-Hacohen and the heads of two Israeli advocacy groups, StandWithUs and the International Legal Forum, handed Bokova a petition signed by more than 77,000 Jews and Christians calling on UNESCO “to recognize the irrefutable deep historic, cultural and religious connection between the Jewish people and the land of Israel.”
The earlier resolution, which was approved October 13 at the UNESCO committee stage with 24 “yes” votes, six “no” votes and 26 abstentions, and then formally confirmed by UNESCO’s executive on October 18, sparked vociferous condemnation in Israel, as well as from UNESCO’s own director, Irina Bokova, and several foreign leaders.
Last week’s text referred to Israel as “the occupying power” at the holy sites. The resolution adopted Wednesday — sponsored by Kuwait, Lebanon and Tunisia — did not, which Israel considers a minor victory. In another significant divergence from the October 13 text, the new version did not put quotation marks around the designation “Western Wall,” a punctuation seen in Israel as bolstering the original resolution’s disdain for Judaism’s connection to its holiest site.
This year’s member countries of the committee made things particularly difficult for Israel. Germany, Columbia and Japan, all sympathetic nations to Israel, are no longer involved, and in their place are Tunisia, Kuwait, Lebanon and Indonesia, bringing to nine the total number of Muslim countries.
The 21 nations with voting rights on the World Heritage Committee were: Finland, Poland, Portugal, Croatia, Turkey, Azerbaijan, South Korea, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Kazakhstan, Tunisia, Kuwait, Lebanon, Peru, Cuba, Jamaica, Burkina Faso, Zimbabwe, Angola and Tanzania.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.