The UNESCO Jerusalem Campaign: NGOs and Foreign Funding
The multiple UNESCO decisions that deny the Jewish connection to Jerusalem and the Temple Mount highlight the widespread nature of the Palestinian narrative regarding Jerusalem. The UNESCO resolutions omitted any mention of the Jewish character of the Temple Mount, while describing Jewish visitors as “storming” the site; the October 12 resolution also refers to the Western Wall Plaza as the “Al Buraq Plaza.”
This narrative is bolstered by a massive, European-funded NGO campaign, which includes accusations of the “Judaization of Jerusalem” and propagation of the “Al-Aqsa is in danger” myth, while ignoring Palestinian attacks against Jewish visitors to the Temple Mount, destruction of archeological evidence of Jewish ties to the site, and incitement to violence.
NGOs involved in Jerusalem campaigns:
- Ir Amim (funded by European Union, Sweden, Norway, Bread for the World- EED [Germany], New Israel Fund, Open Society Institute, Jewish Funders Network, and others) stated in a May 2016 report (authored jointly with Peace Now) that Israel’s objective “is to Judaize the Old City basin – in the Muslim Quarter…and surrounding neighborhoods.” Ir Amim also attempted to spin the UNESCO decision, claiming that its main point was “NOT Jewish connection to Temple Mt but ISR’s duties under intnl law to protect status quo.”
- Terrestrial Jerusalem (funded by the United Kingdom, Norway, Switzerland, New Israel Fund, Kvinna till Kvinna [Sweden]) founder Danny Seidemann has claimed (November 2010) that Israel’s actions in Jerusalem “contribut[e] to the transformation of a resolvable national-political conflict into an intractable mix of jihad, war of mitzvah, and Armageddon – a religious war driven by the Biblical imagery.” The complexities of the situation in Jerusalem – including illegal building and crime in Palestinian neighborhoods, damage to the Temple Mount as a result of illegal digging by the Waqf, and incitement to violence against Jews by extremist clerics are erased.
- Emek Shaveh NGO (funded by Switzerland [FDFA – Swiss Foreign Ministry], HEKS [Switzerland], Cordaid [Netherlands], Norway, Ireland, New Israel Fund, Oxfam GB [UK], CCFD-Terre Solidaire [France], and Oxfam Novib [Netherlands]). While Emek Shaveh condemned the UNESCO resolutions, it has claimed in the past (February 2013) that “Excavation sites are changing the lay of the land, lending force to an historical narrative focusing on the Jewish people, and marginalizing the Palestinian residents from their environment and from their connection to the Temple Mount/al-Haram a-Sharif.” Emek Shaveh thus presents an inaccurate narrative and omits Waqf excavations on the Temple Mount, which attempt to erase Jewish history from the holy area, lending credence to the narrative presented in the UNESCO resolutions.