World Jewish Congress (WJC) President Ronald S. Lauder condemned today’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 anti-Semitism 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.