ADL Concerned Over UNESCO's Biased Resolutions Against Israel

New York, NY, November 1, 2010 … Calling them "highly politicized and one-sided," the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today expressed concern over biased resolutions against Israel passed by UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

A series of resolutions passed October 21 by the 193-member UN body regarding Jewish holy sites in Bethlehem and Hebron, and regarding archeological excavations in Jerusalem, fail to provide equal treatment to Israel and ignore the Jewish people's biblical, religious and historic connections to those sites. The resolutions instead favor Palestinian interests and perspectives.

"The resolutions passed by UNESCO's Executive board regarding Israeli archeological projects in Jerusalem and Jewish holy sites in Bethlehem and Hebron, reflect a highly politicized and one-sided bias against Israel," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "They play into the hands of the Palestinian rejection of the Israeli and Jewish narrative, making peace impossible."

Included in the resolutions are a call to monitor Israeli archeological projects and excavations in Jerusalem, but no mention of Palestinian work on the Al Aqsa mosque compound which has destroyed important archeological artifacts and locations.

Other resolutions regarding Jewish holy sites -- including the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron, and Rachel's Tomb in Bethlehem -- reflect a similar bias, providing only a Palestinian perspective, while disregarding the Jewish religious connection. One resolution exclusively uses Arabic and English names for the sites, failing to list the Hebrew names as well.

"Israel's decision to designate these holy places as Jewish heritage sites reflects the age-old significance of these sites to the Jewish people," Mr. Foxman added. "It does nothing to deny the connection Muslims have towards these sites, nor does it impact Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations."

In a letter to Irina Bokova, UNESCO's Director-General, ADL questioned why the UN body's Executive Board felt it necessary to comment on the Gaza blockade and express concern about Israel's security barrier and the Golan Heights, saying such purely political statements are not relevant to UNESCO's mission.

"These resolutions have served to raise our concern that UNESCO is approaching issues related to Israel and Jewish heritage sites in the region in a highly and inappropriately political manner," the letter stated. "It is greatly troubling that an organization established to protect historic sites around the world is addressing these issues from a purely Palestinian and Muslim perspective."