After the controversial UNESCO vote approving a second resolution recognising only the significance to Muslims of Temple Mount in Jerusalem, Israel is reaping the result of its failure to stress the significance of the site to Judaism - just as it failed to emphasise the issue of Jewish refugees from Arab countries, argues Zvi Gabay. Amazingly enough, an Arabic version of his article, which first appeared in Maariv on 26 October 2016, was published in Al-Quds al Arabi, the London-based mouthpiece of the Palestinian cause. Here is an abridged version.
The UNESCO Resolution adopting the Palestinian initiative to ignore the link between the Jewish people and the Temple Mount (Haram al-Sharif) and the fact that this is the most sacred place of Judaism should sound a warning of what's to come.
UNESCO's decision, which ignored the link between Judaism and the Temple Mount, met with sharp condemnation from politicians from the right and left in Israel. However, it was us who underestimated the gravity of UNESCO's decision and did not denounce it, giving the impression that our historic sites are not important.
If we neglect our national history, how can we ask others not to do so? How to prevent poisonous Palestinian propaganda that ignores what has even been written in Islamic holy books?
The issue of refugees is also neglected in modern history. The New York Times recently published an editorial titled "At the boiling point with Israel". It called on pressure on Israel to agree a deal with the Arabs, which included solutions to issues such as security, Jerusalem, borders and Palestinian refugees. For some reason it ignored the issue of Jews who came from Arab countries empty-handed and arrived as refugees in Israel. The US Congress, in a decision in 2008, confirmed that the issue of refugees from the Middle East, including the Palestinian refugees, as well as Jewish refugees from Arab countries, should be on the table. So why no mention of Jews from Arab lands being given refuge?
Palestinian refugees are a central weapon in Palestinian propaganda against Israel. Why on the global agenda is the other side of the Middle Eastern refugees coin ignored - Israel ignored the Jews from Arab countries, just as it did not strongly emphasize the historical meaning of the Temple Mount for the people of Israel. The vacuum has been filled by Palestinian propaganda, which ignores the historical circumstances of the destruction of Jerusalem and the tragedy of Arab-born Jews who came to Israel as refugees. It is true that these Jews rebuilt themselves by their own strength and ceased to be refugees, but this is no reason to ignore the tragedy that befell them, robbing them of their rights and their property.
The state that ignores its history will find that the world also belittles its national heritage. It will continue to suffer from hostile treatment from the countries of the world in which Israel is considered guilty of occupying territory and the ongoing suffering of the Palestinian refugees. The sooner the situation is rectified, the better.
Read article in full (Arabic)