Like other organs of the United Nations, the supposedly apolitical Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is often used as a weapon for attacking Israel. Look no further than its decision last weekend to make the city of Jericho a world heritage site. The editors of the Jerusalem Post explain:
Ancient Jericho is indeed a site of great historical importance. Largely regarded as one of the oldest cities in the world, [the city bears] evidence of human settlement stretching back some 11,000 years. It appears numerous times throughout the Bible and was notably the site of the Israelites’ first battle in their conquest of the Land of Israel, as documented in the book of Joshua. The city was an important center during the Hasmonean and Herodian periods and the remains of several spectacular synagogues have been uncovered in and around the city.
UNESCO’s description omits all that. The carefully worded text that accompanied the site’s designation refers to “vestiges from the Middle Bronze Age” that “reveal the presence of a large Canaanite city-state occupied by a socially complex population.” And that’s where it ends. Absent is any reference to the city’s Jewish history or its centrality to the biblical narrative.
But perhaps the most outrageous part of UNESCO’s designation of the site is its collusion with Palestinian efforts not only to erase the city’s Jewish heritage but to claim it as their own, by ascribing it to the “state of Palestine.” This is not the first time that UNESCO has played along with Palestinian attempts at historical appropriation. Three more West Bank locations have been designated as world heritage sites and ascribed to the “state of Palestine” since 2012.
The United States rejoined UNESCO in July in large part, it said, to serve as a check on the body’s anti-Israel bias.