On Israel’s 69th Independence Day, the 58 member-states of the UNESCO Executive Board voted yet another pro-Palestinian resolution denying Israeli/Jewish ties to Jerusalem.
The resolution passed as expected with 22 votes ‘yes’ to 10 votes ‘no’ ( Greece, Italy, Lithuania, Netherlands, Paraguay, St.Kitts Nevis, Togo, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States) marking the disunity of the European Union and African,Caribbean and Latin American possibilities for breakthrough.
Following the vote,Germany exulted at recognition in the text of Jerusalem, Hebron and Bethlehem as holy for the three monotheistic religions. Argentina noted the political content that has its place elsewhere. Brazil concurred. The United States condemned deepening politicization that erodes UNESCO’s prestige. Sweden recognized efforts of Palestinian and Jordanian amendments adding that, as European unity was impossible we voted yes. The Israeli Ambassador, wrapped in an Israeli flag, exclaimed ‘here we are and here we Stay’. Jordan stressed that on the Holy sites of Jerusalem both Muslim and Christian sites are of highest priority. The Palestinians closed with this vote will not change our policy. We will continue to fight for Palestine and Jerusalem.
More worrying was the little-noticed vote for the follow up “cultural” resolution 31 on “Israeli military confrontations in the Gaza Strip…prevention of Palestinian school children and students from exercising fully their right to education…Israeli censorship of the Palestinian curricula of schools and universities in East Jerusalem…calling on UNESCO to preserve the human, social and cultural fabric of the occupied Syrian Golan…”
This resolution passed 18 ‘yes’ to 1 ‘no’ (the United States) with 39 abstentions
The next step in this exponential I.D. theft of the Jewish and Christian narratives will take place at the July UNESCO World Heritage Committee in Krakow, Poland where its 21 member-states will vote yet again on Jerusalem and possibly – on the Palestinian wish-list – Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls.
The most dramatic events, however, will happen in November at the General Conference of all member-states. There the new Director-General will be elected – a hot favourite being the Minister of Culture of Qatar Likewise, the new Chairpersons of the General Conference and of the Executive Board will be appointed.The hot tickets – wait for it!
-For General Conference: Saudi Arabia
-For Executive Board: Iran (this is no nightmare… it is for real!)
At that moment, UNESCO will stand at the edge of the abyss. Will it take a giant step forward?
Shimon Samuels is international director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Paris. This article was first published in Times of Israel.