Christians highlight ‘Jerusalem,’ send Bibles to UNESCO

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Evangelical Christians around the world have been mobilized by the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem to send Bibles to UNESCO in response to its recent resolutions denying Jewish and Christian ties to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

The United Nation’s Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s resolutions use only the Muslim names for the Western Wall and Temple Mount – Al Aqsa Mosque and Al Haram Al Sharif – and denote Israel as “the occupying force,” while only mentioning the site as a Muslim place of worship, ignoring Jewish and Christian ties.

Rather than criticize what has been widely perceived as an undermining of history at the expense of Jews and Christians, the ICEJ announced that it is creatively mobilizing practical action, hoping to overturn the resolution.

“We are asking Christians all over the globe to take a Bible, use a highlighter and mark some of the many passages where it speaks of ‘Jerusalem’ and the ‘Temple,’ and then mail it to the UNESCO headquarters in Paris,” said Jürgen Bühler, ICEJ executive director.

ICEJ has received reports of hundreds of Bibles flooding UNESCO headquarters so far and anticipates that thousands will follow.

The initial Oct. 13 resolution was approved by 24 votes to six, with 26 abstentions and two absentees, being finally approved by UNESCO’s executive committee on Oct. 18. Of the countries voting in favor, more than half were Muslim, while only Western countries voted against. Muslim-majority Albania abstained.

The controversial resolution was followed a week later by a second one using similar terminology, this time by UNESCO’s smaller World Heritage Committee which adopted the resolution the “Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls” at the organization’s annual meeting in Paris. This time the vote was carried out by secret ballot, with 10 votes in favor, two against, eight abstentions and one absentee. Diplomatic sources indicate that again more than half of those countries voting in favor were Muslim.

Final approval will take place this Wednesday and Israel’s Ambassador to UNESCO Carmel Shama Hacohen is battling a more potentially damaging consensus vote involving full support of the 21 member states. Palestinians and Jordanians are threatening more radical anti-Israel resolutions if this vote fails to pass.

“Most of us view these diplomats as being principled and well-educated, but apparently, some of them forgot their history lessons and we are sending them Bibles to refresh their memory,” Bühler said. “Hopefully, our campaign will give our nations’ envoys at UNESCO the courage to stand up to the anti-Semites in their midst.”

The two resolutions ignore the historic significance for both Jews and Christians of the site of the two Jerusalem temples. Jerusalem is mentioned directly 669 times in the Old Testament and 154 times in the New Testament, not counting indirect references such has “Zion.” The resolutions also ignore the importance of Jerusalem as the location of Yeshua’s death, resurrection, ascension and prophesied return, significant to both Messianic Jews and Christians.

“To deny, conceal or erase any of the Jewish, Christian or Muslim traditions, undermines the integrity of the site,” said Irina Bokova, UNESCO’s own director general.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu likened the resolution to “diplomatic Jihad,” while both American presidential candidates, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, slammed it.

Interestingly, Islam itself links the Temple with Jerusalem. The Quran makes no direct mention of Jerusalem, but Muslims believe that Al Aqsa, translated as “the furthest mosque” and located on the Temple Mount is the site where Muhammad traveled in the year 620 and from where they believe he ascended to heaven. The event is known as Isra wal Mi’raj, according to Islamic tradition.

Additionally, the Jerusalem location of Al Aqsa is itself mentioned directly in the Hadith, a collection of sayings traditionally attributed to Muhammad. It is also highly significant to note that Muhammad himself referred to Jerusalem, or Al Quds, by the Arabic name Beit al-Maqdis, which is almost certainly derived from the Hebrew, Beit haMikdash, which refers to the Temple. Both the Hebrew and Arabic names literally mean “the House of the Holy.” This historic detail of Islam’s own tradition has somehow been omitted from the recent UNESCO debate.