«A Desligitimização do Estado Judaico»

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Delegitimizing the Jewish State

by Bat Ye'or
Middle East Quarterly
Winter 2011, pp. 3-14 (view PDF)

In a move that caught the Israeli government and the Jewish world by complete surprise, on October 21, 2010, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) declared the Tomb of the Hebrew Patriarchs in Hebron and Rachel's Tomb in Bethlehem "an integral part of the occupied Palestinian territories," admonishing the Israeli decision to add these biblical shrines to the list of Jewish historical and archaeological sites as "a violation of international law."[1]

What is less known, however, is that the driving force behind "the attempt to detach the Nation of Israel from its heritage" (to use Israeli prime minister Netanyahu's words)[2] was the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), which pressured UNESCO to issue the declaration and drafted its initial version.[3] U.N. secretary-general Ban Ki-moon has recently described the OIC as "a strategic and important partner of the U.N."[4] In fact, it has been the OIC that has successfully exploited its marked preponderance at the U.N.—where it constitutes the largest single voting bloc—to turn the world organization and its specialized agencies into effective tools in the attempt to achieve its goals, two of which are to bring about Israel's eventual demise and to "galvanize the umma [Islamic world] into a unified body."[5]

The United Nations has become a foremost purveyor of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic incitement. Nowhere has this obsession been more starkly demonstrated than at the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia, and Related Intolerance, held in September 2001 in the South African town of Durban.

Unifying the Umma, Bashing the Jews

In his address to the 2002 Rabat conference, King Muhammad VI of Morocco stated:

The acts of destruction and distortion committed by the occupation authorities to distort the facts and truths of history cause serious damage to the Islamic and Christian holy sites and violate their sanctity and the values they embody for all the believers of the different religions.[12]

For the Moroccan monarch, as president of the OIC's al-Quds Committee, such actions as archaeological excavations and the placement of artifacts in museums constituted an attack against all believers. In fact, Christian churches that had been reduced to ruins by centuries of Islamic occupation were restored by successive Israeli governments because, unlike Shari'a or Islamic law, the Jewish state has no laws prohibiting the restoration or construction of churches. The king could have also benefitted from a measure of introspection: Morocco, like the other Maghreb states, is a place where virtually no vestiges of pre-Islamic Christian history have survived.

Abdulaziz Othman Altwaijri, the Saudi-born, University of Oregon-educated ISESCO director-general, went a step further, asserting that "the crimes against humanity committed by Israel have reached an extent of oppression, injustice, and aggression that humanity has never witnessed, neither in this age nor in previous ages."[13] He amplified this diatribe at the Amman conference where he claimed that Muslim responsibilities toward the Islamic and Christian holy sites in the Palestinian territories sprang from ISESCO's commitment to the Palestinian cause, which in his opinion, constituted the essence of all issues and the supreme task of both the Muslim world and those Eastern Christian circles that were part of the Arab and Islamic civilization.[14]

The proceedings of the Rabat and the Amman conferences represent a monument to anti-Jewish hatred and incitement, featuring such assertions as "Jews are the enemies of Allah, the enemies of faith, and of the worship of Allah."[15] They also brim with denials of Jewish attachment to the Land of Israel and claims to its Arab (and later Muslim) character since the third millennium BCE. The Jews are accused of having "judaized" the biblical prophets who were in fact Muslim and of having usurped the antiquity of other peoples since they themselves have no history. In the words of Adnan Ibrahim Hassan al-Subah, president of the Jenin Information Center:

People familiar with the Torah, which we believe to have been distorted, know the extent of the evils they attribute to their prophets: corruption, treachery, fornication or approval of it. It is with these facts that we need to arm ourselves when we confront the Zionist propaganda in the world with tangible facts, as part of our defence of the faith and the faithful on earth, wherever they may be.[16]

These examples of incitement to religious hatred were on display at the U.N.'s Palais des Nations in Geneva at a reception given by the OIC on December 19, 2008, to commemorate the sixtieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. And why not? After all, the OIC is not only "the collective voice of the Muslim world"[17] but also the U.N.'s largest single voting bloc and a prominent collaborator with many of its specialized agencies.

Mobilizing Western Muslims

No less importantly, the ISESCO campaign envisaged the mobilization of members of Arab and Muslim communities in the West, especially in the United States, who were to be enticed into becoming politically active so as to end their marginalization and gain major political weight. This was believed to be feasible given that these communities comprised high quality populations, including important scientists, intellectuals, and politicians. Arab and Muslim thinkers, religious scholars, and intellectuals living in Western societies ought to recommend to Muslims to reject extremism, fanaticism and violence "as this tends to be detrimental and generates negative reactions to Arab and Islamic issues." [34]

Another step would involve blocking attempts in Europe and the United States to ban Islamist charitable societies, which according to Kan'an were purely humanitarian organizations but in fact were funneling funds for jihadist and terrorist groups.[35]
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