WJC warns UNESCO of adopting ‘another inflammatory, one-sided decision’ denying Jewish link to Jerusalem

October 14, 2016 Agencies
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The World Jewish Congress (WJC) has called on the Executive Board of the United Nations Educational and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to refrain from adopting “yet another inflammatory, one-sided decision” that harshly condemns Israel and denies or downplays Judaism’s and Christianity’s connections to the holy sites in Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Robert Singer

Robert Singer

WJC CEO Robert Singer called a draft decision tabled by Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Qatar and Sudan “a document which is full of false accusations against Israel, and of aggressive language that will only serve to stoke unrest and exacerbate tensions.” He urged all member states on the UNESCO Executive Board “to categorically reject any attempt to rewrite the history of Jerusalem, e.g. by denying the fact that the Temple Mount was, well before the advent of Islam, the holiest site of Judaism, or by downplaying the huge significance Jerusalem has for Jews and Christians.”

In the current draft decision, the sites of the Temple Mount area are referred to almost exclusively by their Arabic names. Robert Singer said the language used in the document “sounds like it comes straight out of an anti-Israel pamphlet.” Referring to a section in the draft decision that deals with the situation in the Gaza Strip, the WJC CEO noted that the text “doesn’t even mention Hamas, the actual occupying power of Gaza, and puts all the blame at Israel’s door.

“One would expect a body like UNESCO to adopt fair and balanced decisions that are based on facts and not fiction. We urge all countries to reject blatant attempts such as this one to hijack UNESCO for the political machinations of interested parties,” Singer declared.

World Jewish Congress (WJC) President Ronald S. Lauder condemned yesterday’s vote by the Executive Board of the United Nations Educational and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as “shameful” and said it openly downplayed the Jewish connection to Judaism’s holiest site, the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. “What happened today in Paris is antisemitism on steroids. It is a total travesty and an insult to the Jewish people to pretend that the holy sites in Jerusalem are only Muslim sites, and to ignore the fact that Temple Mount was already the holiest place of Judaism well before the advent of Islam,” Lauder declared.

The WJC president added: “It is hard to believe that only six countries had the courage to vote against this one-sided, hateful text which promotes a political agenda at UNESCO aimed at pillorying Israel and at denying the Jewish link to Jerusalem.

“Why did most countries decide to let this text pass? There was no overall majority for this decision, but it has nonetheless been adopted.

“There are Hebrew names for the Temple Mount and the Western Wall, and they exist for a reason: because these are Jewish holy sites. One would expect a body like UNESCO, which was created to safeguard important sites like this, not to succumb to political pressure from governments that want to play politics with UN bodies.

“We urge all democratic nations to work hard to revert this decision, and to have the courage to oppose any attempt to hijack UNESCO for an agenda that aims at distorting history.

“The Jewish people’s millennium-old roots in Jerusalem are a fact. More than 3,000 years ago when King David established Jerusalem as the first capital of the Jewish people. Yet, despite being in the city for thousands of years, many of our holiest sites have been taken from us, time and again.

“Next year will mark the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem. Since then, the State of Israel has protected that all major religions with ties to the city – Judaism, Christianity and Islam – enjoy access to their holy sites. The text adopted by UNESCO in Paris today shows that these sites cannot be entrusted to other governments,” Lauder concluded.

The UNESCO Executive Board’s decision will be followed by another vote on a similar resolution by the World Heritage Committee which will meet on 24-26 October 2016.


3 Responses to “WJC warns UNESCO of adopting ‘another inflammatory, one-sided decision’ denying Jewish link to Jerusalem”
  1. Lynne Newington says:

    I’d be interested in hearing what Rabbi Fred Morgan had to say. http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/218938
    Or would he be reluctant to broach the subject due to his position at the Catholic University.
    I’ve been waiting to catch up with him about his address on the 50th anniversary of Nostra Aetate as to whether he was aware how the Jewish community suffered at the hands of the Argentine dictatorship supported by the Catholic Church and, as the country’s recognised religion, was financially supported as part of the constitution.

  2. Michael Burd says:

    Why is it not surprising the the looney left and allies of the Palestinian Lobby in Australia support the Notion.

  3. Larry Stillman says:

    Actually, read the damn motion which focusses to be blunt, on the cultural Judaization [yihud yershalayim] of east Jerusalem at the expense of others’ physical and cultural rights. See http://www.timesofisrael.com/full-text-of-new-unesco-resolution-on-occupied-palestine/.

    Now, there is also carrying on about the absence of the Hebrew name for the Western Wall in the document and that is claimed to demonstrate an attempt to wipe out the existence of ancient Israel. Eh– what is stated is “Al-Buraq Plaza “Western Wall Plaza” ” — Just remember Western Wall Plaza is the modern area built on top of the demolished Mugrabi quarter. In fact, Al-Buraq (weeping) is the traditional Arabic name used for the wall and is the name used on signs in the old city. It might have been a nice gesture to use Kotel, but one wouldn’t expect it in such a toxic environment. Israelis can be equally criticized for renaming maps with only Hebrew street and place names on Jerusalem maps and certainly for engaging in cultural warfare to prove Jewish predominance.

    What the critics of the motion have done is entirely ignore the parlous state of cultural relations (both physical and social) caused by activities associated with the Occupation (including excavations on the Ofel by nationalists) that set out to ‘prove’ Jewish hegemony or existence prior to Islam, the Greeks, or the Romans, activities that damage other antiquities and monuments that are part of common world heritage, but over which Israeli authorities want unique authority. Mind you, the al-Aqsa authorities should come in for severe criticism over removal and dumping of materials from the area of the Haram. In the normal world, cultural protocols and practices would be in place to prevent such fraught activity, but Jerusalem is not normal.

    BTW, despite all the geschrei, the document nowhere denies shared heritage, e.g.

    parag 3 “Affirming the importance of the Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls for the three monotheistic religions, also affirming that nothing in the current decision, which aims, inter alia, at the safeguarding of the cultural heritage of Palestine and the distinctive character of East Jerusalem, shall in any way affect the relevant Security Council and United Nations resolutions and decisions on the legal status of Palestine and Jerusalem”
    (on Hebron)
    parag 36 “. Shares the conviction affirmed by the international community that the two sites are of religious significance for Judaism, Christianity and Islam; “

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