Hatred Reinvisioned

Jewish Light Editorial

Is it possible that the Jewish Mexican ambassador to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) was fired from his post for NOT being anti-Semitic?

It’s not only possible, but entirely likely.

 In a resolution adopted about “Occupied Palestine,” a UNESCO committee referred to both the Temple Mount and Western Wall by their Muslim names only, utterly ignoring the undeniable Jewish history of the religious and cultural sites.

That UNESCO resolution, finally ratified on Tuesday this week, is hardly surprising, given the notably anti-Semitic, anti-Zionist voices that have predominated its actions regarding Jerusalem and Israel. What was somewhat surprising, however, were the reactions of Mexico, its ambassador and others to the vote approving the resolution.

First, Mexico voted in favor of the resolution. Next, Mexico’s UNESCO Ambassador Andres Roemer, walked out in protest. And after that, Mexico relieved him of his post, though the nation was able to call for a revote so it could abstain rather than approve.

Mexico undoubtedly received major pressure from the United States, Israel and the West in general for its initial vote. And it’s not the only country that is incensed about the obvious bias at the supposed “educational” and “cultural” body; Japan has also threatened to remove its funding of the organization by virtue of the ongoing blatant prejudice exhibited by its members.

The contempt for UNESCO’s membership did not stop at the doors of enlightened nations. Its own director-general, Irina Bokova, issued a statement after the vote that said, “The heritage of Jerusalem is indivisible, and each of its communities has a right to the explicit recognition of their history and relationship with the city.” Bravo, Ms. Bokova. 

Put aside for a moment the historical and biblical deceit that derives from the UNESCO members’ failure to recognize Jewish heritage in Jerusalem. What would be amusing if this weren’t so sad is that it was Israel that itself enacted prohibitions on non-Muslim prayers at the mount to avoid security issues and violence.

But what’s even sadder is that Mexico chose the apparent punishment of dismissal to chastise Roemer. Read the official statement issued by Mexico and you gauge what you think it means:

“For not having informed diligently and with meticulousness of the context in which the voting process occurred, for reporting to representatives of countries other than Mexico about the sense of his vote, and for making public documents and official correspondence subject to secrecy.”

Oh, sure.

Despite the atrocious handling of Roemer, nations that have been hostile to Israel are now being called out for siding with actions and resolutions by UN agencies whose members want to realign the Middle East through a prism of anti-Zionist views.

And that’s good news.

As reported in the Times of Israel Tuesday, “Israel’s ambassador to UNESCO Carmel Shama-Hacohen said that although only Mexico changed its vote between Thursday and Tuesday, Israel is one step closer in its mission ‘to dismantle the automatic majority enjoyed by the Palestinians and Arab states.’”

In fact, while the committee vote adopting the resolution was 23-6 (the United States, Britian and Germany were among the naysayers), there were 25 nations that abstained, so more nations stayed out of the fray than voted in favor. Even Brazil, which was in the majority, worked to soften the language of the proposal.

It’s never good to see any country support revisionist and hateful history, of course, or even to stay on the sidelines through abstention. But the tides could be changing slowly, and ceaseless diplomacy is showing some signs of long-term shifts to the better.

Mexico’s actions against Roemer were no doubt outrageous, without question. But the nation’s changed vote, Bokova’s public comments, and an increasing number of nations who refuse to buy into the effort to change historical fact, may point to a slow but steady move toward Israel in the future.