United Nations v. Israel, 2016?


Eliana Saidel

On Oct. 6, 2016 the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) passed a resolution regarding the status of East Jerusalem and the holy sites therein. Then, on Dec. 23, 2016 the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) passed Resolution 2334, which discussed the settlements in and around the West Bank. These two resolutions are detrimental to the Israeli government, the Israeli people, and the chance for true peace in the Middle East.

UNESCO’s October resolution states that the city of Jerusalem is filled with Muslim holy sites. This is an undeniable fact. However, the resolution does not validate any Judaic or Christian claims on the city, despite the fact that Jerusalem is historically and religiously significant for all three religions. UNESCO disregards the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where Jesus is believed to be buried, or any of the numerous other sites associated with the life and death of Jesus. UNESCO makes no reference to the significance of the Western Wall, the Temple Mount, or the gates of the Old City in terms of their Jewish origins. In fact, the official text of the resolution refers to the aforementioned sites by their Arabic names only – a convenient tool that undermines the reality that these are Jewish and Christian sites too.

UNESCO’s choice to blatantly ignore two of the world’s three largest monotheistic religions and their claims on Jerusalem is ludicrous and irresponsible – anyone who cares enough to visit Jerusalem couldn’t miss the obvious religious diversity in the Old City. Just walking around Jerusalem and seeing the churches, synagogues, and mosques side by side is enough to disprove this UNESCO decision. This kind of error on UNESCO’s part does not win them any credibility amongst Jews or Christians alike,  and it is therefore critical that UNESCO officials rethink their position on the sacred sites in Jerusalem.

Sophomore Natalie Bell poses with the Israeli Flag photo by Eliana Saidel

A scant two and a half months later, UNSC released Resolution 2334, which deems all Israeli settlements in the West Bank a violation of international law and calls on the Israeli government to cease all development and rededicate itself to achieving a two-state solution. Not only does this create rifts in the government owing to the fact that some Israeli politicians have already spoken out against the settlements, but it does not take into account that there are thousands of Israeli citizens who would lose their homes and livelihoods should the settlements be razed. Resolution 2334 also advocates a two-state solution – an outcome that is virtually impossible as long as Israel is controlled by right-wing politicians.

These two UN resolutions make it abundantly clear that, in their esteemed opinion, Israel is no law-abiding nation – it is an “Occupying Power” (a term used 11 times in the two resolutions combined), a force to be stopped, an evil to be defeated. But the UN is looking at Israel through the wrong lens –  Israel is a struggling country, war-torn and terrorized, trying to survive in a world full of enemies. Israelis are building the settlements and living in Jerusalem not to steal land from the Palestinians, but to house their growing families and scratch out a living; not to instigate fights with the surrounding Muslims, but to exercise their right to pray when and where they wish, just like everyone else; not to prove their superiority, not to break international law, not even to deter the peace process; not to prove that Islam has no ties to Jerusalem, not even to prove that it has lesser ties.

Israel is not a country that looks for war – it retaliates when provoked and attacks when deemed necessary. Israel is by no means a blameless angel – it is true that both the government and civilians have committed egregious wrongs  and have mistakes to correct. But these two resolutions are not solutions – they isolate Israel, and encourage anti-Israel advocates all over the world. The implications of the resolutions are dangerous to the government, but more importantly, to innocent Israeli citizens.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the position of HBHA’s student publication. The editorial student staff of the “Rampagewired” places the highest value on student-run journalism and responsible, free expression. The “Rampagewired” accepts unsolicited opinion pieces for its Op-Ed page from students, staff, and the community. Columns typically run 750 to 1,000 words in length. Those most likely to be published deal with timely and newsworthy issues in a well-reasoned, incisive, balanced, and compelling way, and, in the case of already well debated topics, they should present a new perspective.  Contact: [email protected] or [email protected]