Israel’s furious reaction to the UNESCO resolution denying the ancient Jewish connection to Har Habayis intensified Thursday as Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin poured ridicule upon scorn.
Netanyahu derided “UNESCO’s theater of the absurd”: “The organization took yet another hallucinatory decision that says that the people of Israel have no connection to Har Habayis or the Kosel,” Netanyahu said.
“Forget about asking if they have read the Bible. I suggest that UNESCO members visit the Arch of Titus in Rome. There you can see what the Romans brought to Rome after they destroyed and looted the Temple which stood there 2,000 years ago.
“Engraved in the Arch of Titus you can see the seven-branched Menorah, which was and remains a symbol of the Jewish people and is also a symbol of today’s Jewish state,” he said.
“Soon UNESCO will say that the Emperor Titus was in the business of Zionist propaganda,” he said.
“To say that Israel has no connection to the Temple and the Western Wall is like saying that China is not connected to the Great Wall of China or that Egypt has no connection to the pyramids,” Netanyahu added.
Rivlin declared that those who deny the Jewish connection are simply embarrassing themselves by displaying their ignorance.
A seventh-generation Yerushalmi, Rivlin recalled that when he was a boy, prior to the establishment of the state, he used to go with his father to the Kosel at Ne’ilah on Yom Kippur so that they could hear the shofar at the conclusion of the tefillos.
Today, he said, there is an attempt to silence the shofar. “It’s not that they don’t want to hear it. They just don’t want us there,” he said of the Waqf and UNESCO.
Social Equality Minister Gila Gamliel (Likud) branded the resolution “a combination of stupidity and anti-Semitism.”
“Let me suggest a few more resolutions for UNESCO: The moon is made of cheese, Jews have horns, the Tanach doesn’t exist and UNESCO is a committee for denying Jewish heritage. Though, come to think of it, the final suggestion isn’t so crazy,” she said.
In the U.S., leaders of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations denounced the UNESCO decision.
Stephen M. Greenberg, chairman, and Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman and CEO of the Conference of Presidents said, “At the last session of UNESCO’s executive board, the Palestinians mustered an immoral majority of member countries to vote in favor of an outrageous resolution ignoring indisputable historical facts and denying the connection of faiths other than Islam to key holy sites in Yerushalayim. Today, with only 24 of the 58 members voting in favor and 26 abstaining, once again the United States was joined by five other countries voting against [the resolution. (Two members were absent altogether.)]
“At a time when so many archaeological discoveries reaffirm the historical Jewish ties to Yerushalayim and the sanctity and security of the holy places of all religions has been reestablished after decades of neglect and discrimination between 1948 and 1967, these results simply ignore facts and deny reality.
“During our meetings last month with world leaders at the opening of the current session of the U.N. General Assembly, many expressed regret over the original resolution and agreed that denigrating Jewish and Christian history and religious traditions were both outrageous and unfounded.”
Hoenlein, who is currently in Israel, added, “I just visited the areas around Har Habayis and City of David where every shovel in the ground uncovers the historical truths and affirms the obscenity of the UNESCO resolutions. People of all religions should have access to the holy sites of their faith while safety and security is maintained. When one sees the evidence of 3,000 years of Jewish connection to Yerushalayim, since King David made it the capital of the Jewish nation, the undeniable proof and the massive tangible archaeological evidence make these resolutions all the more insulting, intellectually dishonest and biased to the core.”
Marc Israel Sellem/POOL
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu at the PM’s official residence on Thursday.