UNESCO Unplugged

star-UNESCOUNESCO Jerusalem Resolution – Consequences?

Most of the comment on this week’s UNESCO resolution effectively writing both Judaism, and by implication Christianity, out of the history of Jerusalem has been simple outrage and ridicule. So far I haven’t read any speculation about the practical results from the resolution. Let me be the first. It isn’t pretty.


Islam’s claim to Jerusalem

One of the major ideas I took from the Public Diplomacy course I took for my Master is that warfare is not confined to bullets and rockets. The battlefield is in the courts of law and public opinion and, as now, in the courts of diplomacy. What might we expect from the UNESCO draft that implicitly recognises the priority of Muslim/Arab claims to Jerusalem.

The Arabs have always had two major conceptual problems with Israel. The first is the almost cross-the-board support from Jews. Israel Haters’ boosting of largely unrepresentative groups like B’Tselem and Breaking the Silence and totally unrepresentative groups like Neturei Karta.

The second is literally thousands of years of Jewish connection to the land of Israel, of course including Jerusalem, and acknowledgement of that by virtually everybody. With UNESCO they have succeeded in writing

Speculation #1 Management vote for common sense

The draft decision will go before a full plenary of the UNESCO Executive Board on Tuesday. It will either be adopted unanimously, or be the subject of further debate and a possible vote.

While it is true that Director-General Irina Bokova and Head of the Executive Board Germany’s Michal Worbs have criticised the resolution the reality is that the members of this group are much the same as the those who voted or abstained. Does anyone really expect a different result?

On the positive side there is nothing a professional bureaucrat does better than delay.

Speculation #2 Major violence

It has long been my opinion that the two major Palestinian forces have different tactical approaches to violence. The Islamists usually conflated with Hamas and some of the Palestinian Authority want full scale war, a depending on how you define it, Third or Fourth Intifada. Despite all evidence to the contrary they believe all that is necessary is for Muslims to stand up in sufficient numbers for the cowardly Jews to crumble.

Those loyal to Abbas want limited violence, as represented by the Knife Intifada†, enough to release pressure on his corrupt, uncaring regime but not so much that it might turn against him. He is worried, not without reason, that should the violence spiral out of control the ‘freedom fighters’ might chose an easier target than the IDF; or Israel might mistake the Palestine Authority for Gaza or possibly even worse from his perspective let Hamas do to Fatah as they did in Gaza after Israel left.

In this scenario Hamas bolstered by ‘world support’ that the Al-Buraq Plaza known to millions of visitors as the Western Wall Plaza is a Muslim holy place seeks to recover that which is their’s from the Occupation. Much of this attempt is a repetition of 2015 violence but on a much large scale. Mahmud ‘filthy feet’ Abbas has painted himself into a corner and can’t really object. It all goes South from there. The UN Security Council is called in.

Western Wall 1911

1911 Not a Muslim nor winged horse in sight or on site!

Speculation #3 Security Council resolution

It begins with a demand based on the UNESCO resolution that Israel relinquish control of the Kotel (Western Wall) and cease anything else it is doing in that part of Jerusalem that Jordan invaded and occupied for 19 years (wording will be slightly different).

It isn’t always acknowledged but the difference between Security Council, General Assembly and the various UN Departments of which UNESCO is one is that the UNSC has teeth should it choose to bite with them.

Article 41
The Security Council may decide what measures not involving the use of armed force are to be employed to give effect to its decisions, and it may call upon the Members of the United Nations to apply such measures. These may include complete or partial interruption of economic relations and of rail, sea, air, postal, telegraphic, radio, and other means of communication, and the severance of diplomatic relations.

Article 42
Should the Security Council consider that measures provided for in Article 41 would be inadequate or have proved to be inadequate, it may take such action by air, sea, or land forces as may be necessary to maintain or restore international peace and security. Such action may include demonstrations, blockade, and other operations by air, sea, or land forces of Members of the United Nations.

Usually Palestinian threats to diplomatic warfare prove to be so much hot air but there is now a significant difference. Various commentators have feared that President Obama will wait until the election results are in, so as not to screw up Hillary and then as a lame duck deliver a final F@ck You Israel in the United Nations. If America doesn’t use her veto in the Security Council who will?

UNESCO vote by country

Voting for the Draft Resolution. Permanent and current non-permanent members highlighted

No more Israel-UNESCO connections!!!!

What are they? The Israel National Commission for UNESCO website is down though whether this is the first consequence of the new policy or coincidence is not clear. Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett has instructed the Israeli committee to UNESCO to suspend cooperation with the agency over the motion but what does that mean?

The Israel’s Foreign Ministry has not announced withdrawal from the organisation.

There is a certain amount of funding available (less since America and most recently Japan stopped contributing). Just who benefits financially may not be a national (or should that be supranational?)  secret but UNESCO certainly doesn’t make it easily available. If someone has discovered a UNESCO Annual Balance Sheet for all recipients please send me a link. Otherwise check each state party (their terminology) one by one.

Presumably Israel will close its Permanent Delegation to UNESCO .It’s hard to imagine any UNESCO heritage sites‡, of which there are 9 in Israel will lose their standing. It’s even harder to imagine that any of the 18 Tentative sites* will go unprotected with or without the UNESCO label.

UNESCO Palestine Israel
In the WTF category

nesco-freedom of expression

UNESCO » Communication and Information » Themes » Freedom of expression » Extrabudgetary Projects on Freedom of Expression » Beneficiary Countries » Israel

Extra credit

† AKA Intifada of the Individuals and Stabbing Intifada
‡ World Heritage Sites: 9 cultural sites • Necropolis of Bet She’arim: A Landmark of Jewish Renewal (2015) • Caves of Maresha and Bet-Guvrin in the Judean Lowlands as a Microcosm of the Land of the Caves (2014) • Sites of Human Evolution at Mount Carmel: The Nahal Me’arot / Wadi el-Mughara Caves (2012) • Bahá’i Holy Places in Haifa and the Western Galilee (2008)  • Biblical Tels – Megiddo, Hazor, Beer Sheba (2005)  • Incense Route – Desert Cities in the Negev (2005)  • White City of Tel-Aviv – the Modern Movement (2003)  • Masada (2001)  • Old City of Acre (2001)
* Tentative List: 18 properties • Liftah (Mey Naftoah) – Traditional mountain village (2015)  • Ein Karem, a village and its cultural landscape (2015)  • The Great Rift Valley – migratory routes – The Hula (2004)  • Makhteshim Country (2001)  • Triple-arch Gate at Dan & Sources of the Jordan (2000)  • Early Synagogues in the Galilee (2000)  • The Galilee Journeys of Jesus & the Apostles (2000)  • Sea of Galilee & its Ancient Sites (2000)  • Horvat Minnim (2000)  • Arbel (arbel, nebe shueb, horns of hittim) (2000)  • Degania & Nahalal (2000)  • Bet She’an (2000)  • Caesarea (2000)  • White Mosque in Ramle (2000)  • Jerusalem* (2000) • Mount Karkom (2000)  • Timna (2000)  • The Crusader Fortresses (2000)

UNESCO cartoon by Randy Bish, PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW – 11/2/2011

About David Guy

B.A./B.C.A. (Communication and Media Arts) University of Wollongong, AUSTRALIA M.A. in Government (Diplomacy and Conflict Studies) Inter Disciplinary Center, Herzliya, ISRAEL Twitter @5MFI
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