Israel’s strategy to erase the word ‘Occupation’ and Palestine
Recently, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) voted to approve a draft resolution that would recognize damage Israel’s government has done to Christian and especially Muslim sites in Occupied Jerusalem.
Immediately, Israel and the United States, and some of their world allies, began a vicious campaign to disparage the resolution and those supporting it as being “anti-Semitic,” accusing them of “hating Jews.” UNESCO may vote on it today. Never mind that both Israel and the United States dropped out of UNESCO when the “educational” arm of the United Nations attempted to “educate” the world about Israel’s violations of human rights against Christians and Muslims which till this day continues.
This debate isn’t about anti-Semitism or anti-Jewish hate as the pro-Israel and biased anti-Arab Western news media asserts in its false coverage. It is about the refusal of the West to recognize the basic fundamental truth that Israel is violating the human rights of Christians and Muslims in Jerusalem and no one wants to do anything about it. Israel dominates the mainstream news media and the communications industry. That is a fact that is an ongoing shame for the Arab and Islamic World which continue to fail to recognize the importance of investing money in professional public relations as a form of confronting lies, racism and bigotry against Arabs, both Christian and Muslim.
So it’s not a surprise. But Israel’s domination of the news media and its near control of the American news media doesn’t change the facts that are accurately articulated in the resolution, which none of the media want to actually quote. In other words, the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Huffington Post, Politico, and so many biased Western news organizations only want to focus on Israel’s assertions, which are false, but not on the facts.
Israel wants to hide the fact that East Jerusalem is under military occupation and Christian and Muslims are being discriminated against. If they can hide it, they can deny it. People should read the UNESCO resolution for themselves. Israel is angry because they have spent hundreds of millions of dollars on Public Relations spin to convince people that it is not “occupying” Palestine. It is merely taking back territories that are “disputed.”
Here is what the Resolution really says:
The resolution begins with these words, “Affirming the importance of the Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls for the three monotheistic religions.”
Criticizes Israel for refusing to allow a representative from UNESCO to open an office in East Jerusalem to observe and document the changes taking place there, including the damage to Christian and Muslim Holy sites.
Criticizes Israel for its excavations that are taking place in East Jerusalem which antiquities professionals argue are damaging the integrity of the existing Christian and Muslim religious sites.
Ever since Israel occupied East Jerusalem militarily in 1967, it has expelled Christians and Muslims, beginning with the expulsion of hundreds of Muslim residents who lived in the former Moroccan Quarter to expand the Jewish Holy Site, the Wailing Wall (Al Buraq). Yes, Israel has expanded all of its Jewish holy sites while restricting and reducing access to the Christian and Muslim Holy sites, not just in Jerusalem but also in Bethlehem and in Hebron.
Criticizes Israel for changing the status of Jerusalem by denying access to the Waqf, the Islamic authority that oversees the Holy Sites of the al-Aqsa Mosques, the Dome of the Rock and the al- Haram al-Sharif, which until 2000 were managed by Jordan’s religious leaders under World agreement.
Urged Israel to end its harassment and discrimination against Arab members of the Waqf for trying to do their job. They have been arrested, detained, jailed and even beaten by Israeli soldiers. Last year, Israel prohibited Muslims from praying at the Mosque during the 2015 Eid al-Adha.
Urged Israel to halt its construction significantly changing the Christian and Muslim Holy Sites solely to benefit the Jewish community, measures that Israel is taking without any religious consultation of Christian and Muslim leaders including construction work at the Mughrabi Gate and new platforms to allow only Jews to pray in the al-Buraq plaza where the hundreds of homes of Moroccan Muslims were destroyed.
Most egregious is that Israel is removing the remains of Muslims who have been buried in that location which is a violation of the 1954 Hague Convention, which calls for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict. Of course, Israel violates the Fourth Geneva Conventions, which also prohibited military occupations from taking the lands and homes on Christians and Muslims and expelling them to build Jewish-only settlements.
And UNESCO has urged Israel to stop creating facts on the ground to expand Jewish identity in Jerusalem while destroying the Christian and Muslim identity in the city. “Deplores the Israeli decision to approve a plan to build a two-line cable car system in East Jerusalem and the so called “Liba House” project in the Old City of Jerusalem as well as the construction of the so called “Kedem Center”, a visitor centre near the southern wall of the Al-Aqsa Mosque/Al-Haram Al-Sharif, the construction of the Strauss Building and the project of the elevator in Al-Buraq Plaza “Western Wall Plaza”.
When you actually read the resolution, it is an indictment of Israel’s misconduct as an occupying power over a city that UNESCO and the Arab World have recognized as being important to “all three” religions, Jews, Christians and Muslims. In reality, it is Israel that is discriminating against Christians and Muslims but when Christians and Muslims complain and protest, they are denounced in the Western media as “vicious anti-Semities who hate Jews.” Don’t believe Israel’s highly financed PR propaganda. Although maybe the Arab and Muslim World should consider implementing an effective strategic PR campaign of their own to tell the world the truth that the Western Media refuses to do.
• Ray Hanania is an award winning American Palestinian writer based in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected].
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