Friday, June 01, 2012

UNESCO has no idea what the Kotel is

From the LA Times:
If your budget is too tight to actually stroll along the banks of the Seine or trek through Jerusalem, Google is now offering a virtual alternative -- digital tours of famous sites across the world.
The World Wonders Project uses the same Street View technology that allows people to virtually navigate their neighborhoods through Google Maps, but the cameras are focused on historic and treasured sites such as FlorenceStonehenge and ancient Kyoto instead. 
Although many of the images are gathered with cars that have a camera mounted on top, more difficult-to-reach spots, or publicly inaccessible sites, have been recorded on a pedestrian “trike” and other devices.
The U.N. cultural agency UNESCO and the World Monuments Fund are partnering with the company to provide information about the treasured spots. 
Here is how this project describes Jerusalem:
As a holy city for Judaism, Christianity and Islam, Jerusalem has always been of great symbolic importance. Among its 220 historic monuments, the Dome of the Rock stands out: built in the 7th century, it is decorated with beautiful geometric and floral motifs. It is recognized by all three religions as the site of Abraham's sacrifice. The Wailing Wall delimits the quarters of the different religious communities, while the Resurrection rotunda in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre houses Christ's tomb.
The Kotel in the 1870s
This description was directly taken from UNESCO.

First of all, no Jew calls the Kotel the "Wailing Wall." That term was made up by Europeans in the 19th century, possibly as a translation from the Arabic "al-Makba," the "place of weeping." Using that term today shows, in its most charitable interpretation, gross ignorance.

Secondly, UNESCO doesn't even know what the Wall is. This description indicates that they think that the "Wailing Wall" is what separates the Jewish, Armenian, Christian and Muslim Quarters of Jerusalem. This description, not surprisingly, minimizes the Jewish attachment to Jerusalem, making it appear that it is derivative of Abraham's sacrifice - the Muslim motif of the Temple Mount - and that there was never a Jewish Temple there nor a Jewish nation centered there.

Other UNESCO documents are hardly better, and UNESCO still refers to the Kotel as "The Wailing Wall" even today.

But this is hardly surprising from an organization that once called Maimonides a Muslim and that refers to Rachel's Tomb by the completely modern, artificial name "Bilal bin Rabah Mosque." 

See also my UNESCO posters here, here and here.

(h/t Daled Amos)