UNESCO recently clamped down on the Israeli narrative when it voted with an overwhelming majority to designate the Ibrahimi mosque in Hebron a Palestinian cultural heritage site. The decision also classified Hebron as a site exclusively of Palestinian heritage which is under threat from the Israeli occupation.
Several days ago UNESCO’s board also declared that it considers the Israeli occupation a major threat to Jerusalem.
The two decisions took place with a great deal of support from Jordan, according to the Palestinian representative to the United Nations. A few days after the announcement the Jordanian Minister of Media Affairs, Dr. Mohammed Al-Momani, was among the first to celebrate the victory. Al-Momani stated that he considered the UNESCO decision a victory for both Jordan and Palestine.
The decision angered the Israelis to the point of frenzy. Major decision makers issued their own statement shortly after UNESCO’s decision. Since the start of the Palestinian occupation Zionists have worked to fabricate a historical narrative to justify the presence of an occupation on foreign land. The aforementioned narrative stifled that of the Palestinians, the indigenous narrative of the land. The false Israeli narrative has continued to dominate the media and popular opinion for decades.
Israel has not stopped in its attempts to produce a counterfeit history despite the world’s stance in favour of the Palestinians and their history.
UNESCO’s decision, despite their full legitimacy, remains in the eyes of the Israelis as a threat to its security and survival. Israel has succeeded in changing the physical make up of the land with the expansion of settlements, expulsions and the judaisation process; however, it has not succeeded in erasing the Palestinian narrative.
The claim that some have made that Israel is not concerned with UNESCO’s decision is simply not true. Israel has been working for months to remove the issue of the Palestinian heritage sites off the organisation’s agenda. Soon after there was a campaign that sought to convince UNESCO member states to vote against the Hebron resolution yet Israel did not succeed. After their loss in UNESCO Israel left the session early.
Hebron, a city with a history that spans more than 6,000 years, remains a Palestinian city in the eyes of the world with its neighbourhoods and holy sites. Jerusalem, in the same light, also has its own Arab and Palestinian artefacts, both Muslim and Christian. This is what prompts Israel’s frustration; years of occupation are not able to erase thousands of years of history.
While it is true that the Palestinian cause is losing momentum on the political front due to the catastrophic crises currently plaguing the Arab world in addition to internal Palestinian political divisions, the Palestinian struggle has not lost its spark.
If the governing international community continues to ignore the implications of the last nation on earth to live under occupation, they must also come to terms with their inability to end this occupation with political force. Yet the bias will remain in favour of the Palestinians and UNESCO’s resolutions will remain in favour of Jerusalem, Hebron and Bethlehem.
There was support in the decision to grant Palestine non-member Observer Status in the United Nations as well as from the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which has gained global momentum and held Israel to account for for its actions.
These types of resolutions and stances do not fully change the reality in Palestine; they do not reduce the suffering of the Palestinians living under military occupation. However, they do successfully delegitimise the occupation, which remains unacceptable in the eyes of the global community. Moreover, it solidifies the legitimacy of the historical Palestinian narrative, which is the most important weapon in the fight against occupation.
Translated from The Palestinian Information Centre on 10 July 2017
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.