Conference of Presidents Calls on UNESCO World Heritage Committee to Reject Biased and Insulting Resolution Denying Connection of Jewish Heritage to “Old City of Jerusalem and Its Walls”

Oct 21, 2016 NEW YORK, NY

Leaders of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations called on UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee to reject attempts to erase the irrefutable historical religious heritage of Judaism, Christianity and faith traditions other than Islam to the Old City of Jerusalem.  The World Heritage Committee is chaired by Turkey.  In a letter to President Erdogan and the leaders of several other countries sitting on the Committee, the Conference of Presidents leaders urged them to “oppose the misguided and insulting resolution in order to avert the harm that will be done if it is adopted.” 

In a statement issued today, Conference of Presidents Chairman, Stephen M. Greenberg and Executive Vice Chairman and CEO, Malcolm Hoenlein said:

“We are outraged by the terms of a draft resolution on “the Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls” which is replete with outright lies, distortions, and insults to Judaism, Christianity and other faith traditions.  By eradicating the Jewish and Christian biblical and religious names of sites which are among the holiest to Jews and Christians, the proposed resolution falsely denies the irrefutable historical religious heritage of Jews, Christians and others to these sites. 

UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee should not be misused as an instrument to erase the Jewish connection to Jerusalem, by falsely accusing Israel of deliberately damaging Islamic holy sites and routinely preventing Muslims access to them, and by referring to holy sites sacred to Judaism, Christianity and Islam exclusively by Arabic names.

The latest resolution under consideration by the World Heritage Committee is replete with outright lies, distortions, and insults to Judaism and Christianity.  Its adoption will pervert UNESCO’s mission by attempting to erase thousands of years of Judeo-Christian history and heritage and will undermine UNESCO's mission to ensure the preservation and protection of endangered religious and cultural sites. 

Israel has worked for decades to preserve and protect holy sites sacred to Muslims, Christians and Jews, and is providing assistance for important renovation work at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher after bringing the Christian sects together in order to move the project forward. Despite the political interference of the Palestinian leadership, Israel has also sought to cooperate with Jordan for the preservation and protection of Islamic holy sites in Jerusalem.

The false claims made in the resolution have serious and potentially tragic real world consequences, which are harmful to the prospects for promoting peace in the Middle East. 

We call on the members of the World Heritage Committee to oppose the misguided and insulting resolution in order to avert the harm that will be done if it is adopted.”

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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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