Know Your History: Past UNESCO Shenanigans

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series where I bring to you news from the newspaper archives and historical documents to debunk common misconceptions about the Middle East conflict.

Today, the anti-Israel UNESCO resolution – disavowing Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem – passed by a vote of 22-10, with 26 abstentions/absences.

Some saw this as a moral victory of sorts.



This follows their disgraceful ratification of the resolution ignoring Jewish ties to the Temple Mount last year.

But we can go back even further to see other disgraceful attempts by UNESCO members to deny Jewish history, prevent us from unearthing it, or otherwise claim it as their own.

In October 1969, Jordan tried to claim one of the Dead Sea Scrolls as their property, even though Israel legally obtained it. Note what the scroll talks about – the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, which these more recent resolutions would have us believe never existed.

Note also who we bought it from – a “Jordanian” antique dealer in Bethlehem. He is not referred to as a palestinian. Imagine that – this is from the New York Times less than 50 years ago!

It gets even better – an op-ed in the November 26, 1972 edition of the New York Times blasted UNESCO for demanding Israel halt archeological activity in the Old City of Jerusalem (and then adopting a resolution to withhold cultural aid from us), while referring to the Jewish history of the city.

Followed by another one two years later, ripping the politicization of UNESCO by the Arab bloc, which in effect made the PLO the “censor of UNESCO’s activities.”

Interestingly enough, the fallout from 1974’s UNESCO resolution to expel Israel from UNESCO activities was a “bumper crop” of artists, writers, musicians and dancers coming to Israel.

This is similar to what we are seeing with BDS in recent times.

The New York Times featured yet another editorial supportive of Israel/damning of UNESCO, on August 19, 1975. Note how it describes the care in which Israel conducted its archeology (in contrast to how the Jordanians treated our monuments and tombstones), as well as some punitive actions against UNESCO: the US withdrawing funding, and some of the world’s leading artists, scientists and educators withdrawing their cooperation (Israel would later be re-admitted).

Perhaps this is precisely what needs to happen now, in protest over the recent UNESCO resolutions denying Jewish history.

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An Aussie immigrant to Israel, David Lange is founder and managing editor of Israellycool. He is a happy family man, and a lover of steak, Australian sports and single malt whisky.