Orwell famously said, “Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.” This is the goal of the tyrannical majority of the UN General Assembly and associated agencies such as UNESCO and the Human Rights Council. Acting more like the old Soviet Politburo than a world peace organization, the UN rewrites history to suit the political agendas of serial human rights abusers, antisemitic regimes, and authoritarians (a trifecta describing many UN members).
The latest example is a General Assembly resolution referring to the Temple Mount by its Muslim name – al-Haram al-Sharif – and rewriting history by turning Judaism’s holiest place into a uniquely Islamic holy site. To borrow a title from a story about Communist Chinese historiography, this latest assault on Jewish history should be headlined, “Rewriting history in the People’s Republic of Amnesia and beyond.” Like the Communists, the UN believes the global community must “have correct views on history,” which in the case of Middle East history requires minimizing or totally erasing the Jewish presence and influence on the region and implanting a fabricated record consistent with Palestinian and Islamic propaganda.
Israel is almost always the target of these Orwellian efforts, which succeed because of the fecklessness of many countries that fear angering the Muslim world and, in some cases, the extremists in their own countries. Even as the world is changing with the establishment of relations between Israel, the UAE, Bahrain, and Sudan, the UN continues to treat Israel as a pariah and promote the Palestinians’ historical inventions out of unrequited loyalty to an intransigent people viewed as suffering the type of oppression many of the members did under colonialism. The association of these countries’ history with the Palestinians is itself an example of turning history on its head. It has been going on for so many decades most UN ambassadors robotically register yea votes for any condemnation of Israel.
Consider that the fabrication of history represented by the Temple Mount resolution was approved by 138 members of the General Assembly, one of seven pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel resolutions that the General Assembly’s Fourth Committee passed in a single week. Only nine countries, including Israel, voted against the resolution: Australia, Canada, Guatemala, Hungary, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru and the United States. Notice that all the Arab states that have signed peace agreements with Israel voted with the majority. Normalization has a long way to go.
Typical of the mealy-mouthed Europeans, a German explained that despite all but Hungary voting for the resolution, the EU believes “language on the holy sites of Jerusalem” should “reflect the importance and historic significance of the holy sites for the three monotheistic religions” (Tovah Lazaroff, “UN speaks of Temple Mount as solely Muslim site, ignores Jewish ties,” Jerusalem Post, November 7, 2020).
The historical record is clear, of course, that the Jewish people have an intimate historical connection to Har HaBayit. Many Jews and non-Jews mistakenly believe the Western Wall is the holiest place in Judaism, but it is not; the Temple Mount on which the Second Temple stood is the most revered site. The Western Wall is the retaining wall surrounding the Temple Mount. The Wall held no held no special significance, according to F.M. Loewenberg, until the 16th century when Sultan Suleyman I established the Ottoman Empire. Ironically, Loewenberg notes, “it was designated as a place of prayer less than five hundred years ago by a Muslim ruler.” The Wall acquired significance largely because Jews were given limited or no access to the Temple Mount and, as the next best option for getting close to the location of the Holy of Holies, the Western Wall became the second most sacred place (F.M. Loewenberg, “Is the Western Wall Judaism’s Holiest Site?” Middle East Quarterly, Fall 2017).
Paradoxically, it was an Israeli, then Defense Minister Moshe Dayan, who granted control of the Temple Mount to the Muslims in an ultimately naïve gesture to pacify them following Israel’s conquest of the Old City in the 1967 War. He gave the Muslim authorities responsibility for religious activities in the mosques on the Temple Mount. Jews were supposed to have free access but would not be allowed to pray there to avoid angering the Muslims. Thus, Dayan, with the approval of the government, ceded Judaism’s holiest place to Muslim control.
This political decision, however, did not erase the Temple Mount’s historical and religious significance to the Jewish people. It is the Palestinians who are attempting to rewrite the history of their own scholars.
In 1925, the Supreme Moslem Council published a “A Brief Guide to al-Haram al-Sharif,” which says on page 4 the Temple Mount “is one of the oldest in the world. Its sanctity dates from the earliest times. Its identity with the site of Solomon’s Temple is beyond dispute. This, too, is the spot, according to universal belief, on which David built there an altar unto the Lord, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings.
1 In 1959, for example, Israel complained that two countries (Liberia was one) moved their embassies from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv in response to US pressure. In 2002, Congress passed a law that said that American citizens who wished to do so could have “Israel” listed as their birthplace on US passports. The State Department, however, refused to do so. The parents of Menachem Binyamin Zivotofsky, an American citizen born in Jerusalem, sued the State Department to force the government to enforce the law. The case went all the way to the Supreme Court, which held that the president has an exclusive power of recognition, and, therefore, Congress may not require the State Department to indicate in passports that Jerusalem is part of Israel. “Dismayed: U.S. Court Refuses to Enforce U.S. Law Granting Jerusalem-Born U.S. Citizens Right to Have ‘Israel’ Listed on Official Documents,” Zionist Organization of America (July 15, 2009); instruction from the Department of State to all diplomatic posts, February 20, 1959, in FRUS, 1958–60, vol. 13, 147; memorandum of conversation, March 9, 1959, in FRUS, 1958–60, vol. 13, 151–52; “Supreme Court Strikes Down ‘Born in Jerusalem’ Passport Law,” Associated Press (June 8, 2015).
2Arieh Avneri, The Claim of Dispossession, (NJ: Transaction Books, 1984), p. 272; Kedar, Benjamin. The Changing Land Between the Jordan and the Sea. (Israel: Yad Izhak Ben-Zvi Press, 1999), p. 206; Paul Johnson, A History of the Jews, (NY: Harper & Row, 1987), p. 529.
Published at Jewish Virtual Library