A few weeks ago, the U.N. General Assembly overwhelmingly passed a resolution denying a Jewish connection to Jerusalem and the Temple Mount.
This is the site of the two most important Jewish Temples—both built hundreds of years before Arabs arrived in the region and built a mosque atop their ruins.
On the one hand, it’s bizarre: Some 129 nations voted in favor of this resolution that contradicts the Bible and accepted history.
On the other hand, it’s not surprising: One of the primary weapons used to discredit the legitimacy of the Jewish state in its ancestral and indigenous homeland has been the denial of Jewish history and millennia-old Jewish sites and archeology.
Most such denials are cheap—easily disproven lies leveled by corrupt Palestinian leaders and Arab “scholars.” The apex of the tactic is what Israeli American writer David Hazony calls “Temple Denial”—”a campaign of intellectual erasure … aimed at undermining the Jewish claim to any part of the land,” which he compares in brazenness to Holocaust denial.
Since Palestinians have never had sovereignty or control in this land, their attacks on Israel’s legitimacy depend on such fake history. They’re forced to “prove” that Jews are foreign colonizers, and that Muslims and Arabs have been there since time immemorial.
Unfortunately for them, the mere presence of the Temple Mount and countless Jewish sites around Jerusalem—predating the Muslim invasion and Arab occupation—completely undermine these lies.
Why then do other countries—many of them Christian or with significant Christian populations—collaborate in these lies, which effectively also deny Christian history and belief?
If there were no Temple in Jerusalem or Jews in Judea, then central parts of the Christian Bible—like Jesus and the money-changers—couldn’t have happened. In essence, nations that deny the historicity of the Temple—and buy the Palestinian narrative that it has only one name, al-Haram al-Sharif—are not just obliterating Jewish, but also Christian, history.
Obviously, such intellectual dishonesty and historical self-denial did not stop the UNGA from disavowing Jews’ construction of Jerusalem’s Temple Mount. Bizarrely, the U.N. resolution only refers to the Temple Mount by its Arabic name. It also uses language that promotes restrictions on Jewish and Christian access to the Temple Mount by calling for “upholding unchanged the historic status quo at the Haram al-Sharif.”
The resolution’s text was so egregious that nations such as the United States, United Kingdom, Hungary, Canada, the Czech Republic and Guatemala voted against it. The U.S. envoy declared, “It is morally, historically and politically wrong for members of this body to support language that denies” both the Jewish and Christian connections to the Temple Mount and al-Haram al-Sharif.
But why do so many countries reflexively take the Palestinian position—even when it is a denial of fact, history and their own identity? Simply put: self-serving political and diplomatic interests.
First, a stacked vote: At the United Nations there are 22 Arab countries and 57 Islamic states, and only one Jewish state. If a nation wants to put forward an agenda or be elected to a body in the United Nations system, one vote won’t get it very far.
Furthermore, all of the Arab and Muslim nations are part of what is known as the “Non-Aligned Movement,” which has most of what was once called “The Third World,” numbering 120 nations, representing a significant majority in the 192-member United Nations system. Meaning that the Arab and Muslim world has an overwhelming majority in all multilateral forums. This is what is constantly referred to as the “automatic majority” against the Jewish state by Israeli leaders, and what has led to systematic discrimination in international bodies.
Second, natural resources: Between half and two-thirds of the world’s natural resources originate in Muslim-majority countries. This is a powerful tool of persuasion.
Third, demographics: There are 1.8 billion Muslims in the world and fewer than 15 million Jews. Many nations, particularly in Europe, sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America, have rapidly increasing Muslim populations. In democracies or even semi-democracies, local domestic politics often trump everything on the global and diplomatic stage. Staying in power and calming restive elements in one’s own country are powerful motivating factors for elected officials who need numbers when elections come around again.
Fourth, voting for “show”: In the UNGA, resolutions are not binding, merely declaratory. It thus costs these nations very little to automatically vote along with the Palestinians and their allies on any and every issue. The State of Israel will not take any action against these countries.
Most of the countries that vote consistently with the Palestinians have excellent and growing bilateral relations with the Jewish state. They know that Israel does not have the power, interest or diplomatic clout to leverage relations against U.N. voting patterns. The Arab and Muslim side has significant leverage and is not afraid to use it.
As an example, in 2013, Arab nations were looking to retaliate against Canada’s then-perceived pro-Israel position by stripping it of its role as host of the U.N. International Civil Aviation Organization, whose headquarters have been in Montreal since 1947. Arab ambassadors to the United Nations started openly attacking Canada, including bringing in other countries to vote against Ottawa in international organizations, according to the Globe and Mail’s report of that meeting.
This sent a message not just to Canada but to all those they deemed not obedient enough to any Palestinian position. Nations understood that sanctions and other measures can be taken against them whenever they are deemed too distant from Palestinian positions and not sufficiently supportive of delegitimization of the Jewish state.
The next time you wonder why so many U.N. votes go against Israel—whether in the General Assembly, the Human Rights Council or any of dozens of international agencies that dictate the global agenda—these simple truths point to the source of the intellectual dishonesty and injustice. The global infrastructure has simply been hijacked by the Palestinian narrative.
Moreover, we Americans should thank our democratically elected politicians who continue to support Israel in the United Nations, defying massive pressure—and we should never take it for granted. The battle for the hearts and minds of American voters and our representatives against Israel’s enemies must be fought daily.
James Sinkinson is president of Facts and Logic About the Middle East (FLAME), which publishes educational messages to correct lies and misperceptions about Israel and its relationship to the United States.