CONFERENCE OF PRESIDENTS CALLS ON UNESCO EXECUTIVE BOARD TO REJECT OUTRAGEOUS RESOLUTION NEGATING JEWISH CONNECTION TO THE TEMPLE MOUNT AND OTHER HOLY SITES

October 11, 2016, New York, NY… Leaders of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations today expressed deep concern and outrage over the terms of a resolution on the Old City of Jerusalem to be considered in the upcoming days by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Executive Board.  The resolution, proposed on behalf of the Palestinians by a group of Arab and Muslim states “purposefully distorts, denigrates and seeks to deny the millennia long historical reality of the profound Jewish connection to sites which are among the holiest in Judaism, Christianity and other faith traditions.”  The leaders called on Member States to prevent the injustice which will be caused by the grossly insulting language on holy sites in Jerusalem by rejecting the proposed resolution. 

Stephen M. Greenberg, Chairman and Malcolm Hoenlein, Executive Vice Chairman and CEO of the Conference of Presidents said, “UNESCO is on the verge of taking another step in the disturbing and dangerous direction of a politically driven effort by the Palestinians to rewrite the Judeo-Christian history of Jerusalem.  The resolution, to be considered by the Executive Board during the holiest season in the Jewish religion purposefully distorts, denigrates and ultimately seeks to deny the millennia long historical reality of the profound Jewish connection to sites which are among the holiest in Judaism, Christianity and other faith traditions. 

This resolution continues the escalating campaign by the Palestinians to drag UNESCO into a divisive affront to religious sensibilities around the world which ignores historical fact and disregards accepted scholarship.  The falsification of Jewish and Christian history, and baseless claims against Israel, have serious and potentially tragic real world consequences, often manifested in bloodshed and violence.

The Palestinian campaign at UNESCO defies any logic or purpose other than to exacerbate tensions, vilify religious beliefs and impinge on the right of Jewish, Christian and believers of religious traditions other than Islam to experience the holy sites of their faiths.  It deliberately impedes peace, deters religious comity and obstructs understanding among people.

At the opening of the current session of the UN General Assembly last month, we held meetings and raised our concerns with presidents, prime ministers and foreign ministers of countries serving on UNESCO’s Executive Board.  Some of these leaders had already expressed regret for their earlier votes in favor of similar resolutions.  Others, who were not fully aware of the impact of their votes, were sympathetic to our concerns when we explained to them the dangerous precedent and injurious impact of UNESCO’s official imprimatur on attempts to misrepresent and erode the Jewish and Christian connection to these holy sites.

We call on the Executive Board to reject the proposed resolution.  Together with others who value religious freedom, respect religious diversity and promote religious tolerance, European, Latin American and other countries should join with the United States to prevent the further injustice which will be caused by the grossly insulting language on holy sites in Jerusalem.

Our grandchildren and future generations will hold us to account for failing to prevent these reckless acts that degrade and dismiss more than 3,000 years of history and core religious beliefs. 

The Jewish community will not sit by as our heritage is violated, our history denied, our rights ignored.”  

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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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