New York, NY, October 19, 2015 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today expressed alarm at the “cynical and incendiary” effort by Palestinian leaders and six Arab members of the UNESCO (United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization) Executive Board to pass a resolution which would recognize the Kotel (Western Wall) as part of the al-Aqsa Mosque and a Muslim holy site.
ADL urged the 58 members of the executive board to reject this blatant attempt to hijack UNESCO and exacerbate religious conflict in Jerusalem and to exercise responsible leadership to promote calm and religious respect at this tumultuous time.
Jonathan A. Greenblatt, ADL CEO, issued the following statement:
This effort to have UNESCO recognize the area encompassing the Kotel as part of the al-Aqsa Mosque compound and is a cynical and incendiary manipulation to exacerbate and perpetuate already heightened religious and political tensions in Jerusalem.
It is a tragic irony that while the Israeli government actively recognizes Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem and across the country, and guarantees and protects freedom of worship, the Palestinians and their allies on the UNESCO executive are instead trying to diminish, deny or replace the undeniable Jewish connection to holy sites in Jerusalem. In the case of the Temple Mount/Noble Sanctuary, Israel is committed to the long-time ‘status quo’ arrangement whereby Muslim management and access is ensured to this shared holy site.
We call on the members of UNESCO’s Executive Board to exercise responsible leadership and reject this resolution, particularly at this time when Israeli civilians are being attacked on the streets by young Muslims who have been inspired and incited by blatant misinformation about Israeli policies towards holy sites.
The international community and UNESCO have a role in working to reduce tensions and promote true religious respect and understanding, and to affirm Israel’s very right to exist. This resolution will have the opposite effect.
We have consistently condemned price tag attacks by Jewish extremists, including incitement against Muslims and Christians. We are committed to religious freedom and recognize the special sensitivity of Jerusalem’s sacred places. However, all religious groups must respect the sanctity of each other’s historic sites.