The headline out of Geneva is as familiar as it is depressing and disgraceful. UNESCO—the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization—voted again today to claim that Judaism and the Jewish people have no ties to Jerusalem’s Temple Mount and the Western Wall. The vote, just the latest example of the UN’s anti-Semitic bias is a brazen attempt to deny history aimed at promoting the delegitimization of Israel. But the Palestinians and their supporters who sponsored this pathetic show shouldn’t be celebrating. The vote at the UN agency went against Israel but, for the first time, more nations abstained than supported the vicious assault on truth. While the mere fact that UNESCO is being used in this fashion illustrates its moral bankruptcy, the decline in support for the Palestinians’ big lies shows that their campaign against the Jewish state is actually losing ground.
The vote at the UNESCO council was lopsided, with 24 nations supporting the resolution denying Jewish ties to the holiest sites in Judaism and supporting efforts to force Jews out of their capital and only six (the United States, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Germany, Lithuania, and Estonia) opposed. But this time, a total of 26 countries abstained. Among the abstainers were France, Sweden, Slovenia, India, Argentina, and Togo, which had all previously announced their support for the smear. In all, ten nations that had voted for a similar resolution in the past abstained this time. Not a single European nation backed the Palestinians on this, the key symbolic plank in their effort to isolate the Jewish state and deny it legitimacy.
The shift to a majority opposing or abstaining on the Palestinian’s Jerusalem resolution reflects the growing success of Israeli diplomacy throughout the world. Efforts to isolate Israel in the Third World are finding increasing resistance in both Africa and Asia as many nations are realizing that supporting the Palestinians’ outrageous claims serves no purpose other than to make peace even less likely. Others are seeking closer ties to Israel—both openly and sometimes covertly—because they appreciate what the Jewish state has to offer in terms of security cooperation at a time when the threat from Islamist terror looms larger around the globe. They are also reading the signals from some of the most vicious enemies of Israel, such as Saudi Arabia, which have recently demonstrated that they fear Iran and look to the Jewish state as a potential ally. Though all continue to pay lip service to the Palestinian cause, backing their obsessive and pointless war against Israel does no one much good–least of all the Palestinian people, who continue to labor under the misrule of both Fatah in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza.
But while Prime Minister Netanyahu and Israel’s diplomats should be forgiven for expressing some satisfaction at the lower than expected vote total for this act of historical denial, the resolution’s passage is still a matter of deep concern. The manipulation of UNESCO by the Israel-haters is a warning to the world that the Palestinian goal isn’t really a fair-minded two-state resolution, which peace process advocates say is the only possible way to resolve the conflict. The Palestinian Authority’s diplomatic offensive on Jerusalem is a companion piece to their effort to gin up public opinion against Israel by promoting canards about Israel’s supposed plans to harm the Temple Mount mosques. That incitement has fueled the latest round of terrorist murders called the “stabbing intifada.” The point of this hate isn’t to build support for the independent Palestinian state they claim to want but rather to make clear their intent to deny Jewish rights and history and ultimately force Jews out of Jerusalem, if not the rest of the country.
The Palestinians may content themselves with resolutions that encourage them to believe they may achieve their goal of ridding Jerusalem of its Jewish majority. But this effort demonstrates that Palestinian opposition to coexistence and anti-Semitic incitement is a far bigger obstacle to peace than anything Israel has done. As the lower vote total at UNESCO shows, their problem is not just that Israel refuses to disappear. It is that much of the rest of the world is also beginning to understand their true goal.