Conference of Presidents Calls for Actions to Prevent Further Degradation of Judeo-Christian Heritage by UNESCO

New York, NY

The 40th session of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee will meet in Istanbul from July 10-20, 2016. In recent years the Committee has adopted dangerous and precedent setting resolutions which diminish or deny the Jewish and Christian ties to the holiest sites of both faiths. It is anticipated this pattern will continue and a draft resolution will be submitted to the July session under the “list of world heritage in danger”, citing specifically the “Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls”.

Turkey serves as the current Chair of the Committee, and among its members Angola, Azerbaijan, Burkina Faso, Croatia, Cuba, Finland, Turkey, Jamaica, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, South Korea, Tunisia, Turkey, Tanzania, Vietnam and Zimbabwe.

Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations Chairman Stephen Greenberg and Malcolm Hoenlein, CEO, said, “It is urgent that all concerned communicate to diplomats, officials and high level contacts in the member states on the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO to prevent the further degradation and denial of 3,000 years of Jewish history and 2,000 year of Christian tradition.

Unlike the other resolutions to be considered by the UN body which are largely technical, the one regarding Jerusalem is political and again singles out Israel for special discriminatory action. The resolution will also likely target Israel for “illegal excavations” at the Temple Mount and violations of the so-called status quo on the Temple Mount.

In fact, the UNESCO resolutions have done more to change the status quo than any and all action taken by Israel over the years. The UNESCO resolutions are an infringement of fundamental religious rights and an affront to ages old beliefs and universally accepted historical accounts. Beyond this, the resolutions will have real consequences on the ground, now and in the future,” the Jewish leaders declared.

“In the aftermath of the recently adopted outrageous resolution by the Executive Board of UNESCO that removed the traditional names of holy places sacred to Jews, Christians and Muslims and left only the names associated with Islam, it is imperative that this UNESCO process, begun several years ago, be ended now.

This relentless assault is a clear attempt to erase our past in order to eliminate our future. The Executive Board resolution must be repealed. The voices of tolerance, justice and freedom must be heard now and this mockery ended. The UNESCO actions and resolutions are an affront and assault on the beliefs, traditions, history and reality of these ancient holy sites to Jews and Christians. We owe it to future generations to assure their access and preserve their association to these most important sacred places. We cannot fail them,” Mr. Greenberg and Mr. Hoenlein pledged.

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The Conference of Presidents is the central coordinating body representing 50 national Jewish organizations on issues of national and international concern

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