[The following letter is being submitted to the Pope via various methods]
I must start off by telling you that as an Orthodox Jewish rabbi, I am not generally in the habit of writing to the Pope. However, these are special times in which we live and, as such, I believe I must reach out to you, for your assistance.
As you are no doubt aware, UNESCO recently voted in committee and then ratified at an Executive level that there is no historical connection between the Temple Mount, the Western Wall and Judaism. And while this may seem like a trivial matter, I assure you that it is not in the least bit trivial.
Before I request your help, perhaps a national mea culpa would be in order. It has been pointed out to me and to many others: how in the world can we expect differently from UNESCO if Israel herself is not seen as claiming its natural dominance over the site. Yes, we have not done well at this at all, and that is a separate issue we need to grapple with here in Israel.
The vote by UNESCO is one of gargantuan anti-Semitic proportions. And while it is clearly anti-Semitic, their action does one other thing: It attempts to erase the historical connection of a people from its past. Since, we are speaking here about JEWISH history, why would I be contacting the leader of the 2 billion plus Catholics of the world? Simply put: the UNESCO decision is a slap in the face to you personally and not only to the Jewish people.
Since I am not well-versed in the Scriptures, as promulgated by the Church, I turned to the internet to gain some rudimentary language regarding the connection between Jesus and the Temple Mount. Here is an example of what I found.
The Temple Mount holds significance for Christians as the place where Jesus issued his challenge against the Temple authorities, an act which can be seen as leading directly to his arrest and crucifixion.
Jesus deplored the corruption of the authorities of that time, as well as the use of one of the Temple gates for trade. According to the gospel of Mark, Jesus performed a “cleansing” of the Temple, whereby he chased away the merchants and money changers in the Temple’s vicinity.
The Temple Mount also holds significance for Christians as the place where Jesus attended festivals as a child.
It seems that this vote not only attempts to erase JEWISH history, it also is erasing that which you hold near and dear to YOU, personally and to the 2 billion plus devotees of your church. While Pope Pius XII was given a bad rap about his action/inaction during WWII, the truth has come out, that he was responsible for saving over 850,000 Jewish lives.
It is now your turn to stand up for your people and the people from whom your roots sprung forth. This is not about good and evil. This is not about right and wrong. THIS IS ABOUT TRUTH. And the truth is that the statement that passed by UNESCO is a global slap in the face to Jews and Christians.
As the leader of the billions of Catholics on Earth, I implore you to take a stand and make a public statement. If you do not make such a statement, this will allow the re-writing of history and the acceptance of said changes. If you don’t think that to be true, then how is it that the Muslim world celebrates a holiday for the Binding of Ishmael…and not ISAAC as stated in the Bible. The re-writing of history by the Muslim world has indeed worked for them and to their advantage.
Please, join Jews from all ranges of the spectrum, and condemn unequivocally, the despicable resolution of UNESCO.
I thank you in advance and wish you Godspeed.
Rabbi Zev M Shandalov
Maale Adumim , ISRAEL