Press Release

ADL: UNESCO Vote Expunges 3,000 Years of Jewish Connection to Jerusalem

New York, NY, October 13, 2016 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) condemned yet another in a series of resolutions passed today by the UNESCO Executive Board, which, it said, “essentially expunges the 3,000 years of Jewish connection to Jerusalem.”

Similar resolutions have been adopted by UNESCO political bodies in the past.  The resolution passed today continued to refer to the Temple Mount/Holy Sanctuary solely by its Islamic name, Haram al Sharif, and referred to the Western Wall Plaza in quotation marks, referring to it first as the Al-Buraq Plaza, its Islamic name.

As always, the resolution included numerous highly politicized allegations and false charges against Israel, including of Israel denying Muslims religious access to holy sites and Israel destroying Muslim sites.

The only tacit acknowledgment of Judaism’s connection to Jerusalem is a first-time reference to “the importance of the Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls for the three monotheistic religions…”

Jonathan A. Greenblatt, ADL CEO, issued the following statement:

Yet again, member states of the UNESCO Executive Board have perpetuated outrageous and false allegations against Israel and blatantly denied the Jewish connection to the Temple Mount and Jerusalem.

To expunge the Jewish connection to Jerusalem is to deny the very cultural heritage of Jerusalem.  This is not only unethical, but it contradicts the role of UNESCO to build intercultural understanding and protect cultural heritage.

Resolutions such as these poison the atmosphere and sow mistrust making steps toward reconciliation all the more difficult. 

We express our appreciation to the United States, United Kingdom, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Estonia and Germany, who all voted against the resolution.  

The resolution received more abstentions than votes in favor, indicating widespread concern with the biased document. According to reports, 24 countries supported the resolution, six voted against, and 26 abstained.  Of the countries who had publicly expressed regret for voting for a similar resolution in April, France abstained, and Brazil voted in favor.

ADL had earlier written to the ambassadors of 28 member countries of the UNESCO Executive Board, urging them “to reject this highly political and dangerous degradation of the Jewish connection to Jerusalem.”

Additionally, ADL wrote to UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova asking that she again use the “moral voice of your office to protect the integrity of Jerusalem as a holy city to the three monotheistic religions…Both in the interest of preserving UNESCO’s integrity and relevance, and in the interest of affirming the genuine cultural heritage of Jerusalem.”

The Director General previously condemned efforts to deny the Jewish connection to Jerusalem.

Updated: October 13, 2016

UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova released a statement saying, “To deny, conceal or erase any of the Jewish, Christian or Muslim traditions undermines the integrity of the site, and runs counter to the reasons that justified its inscription on the UNESCO World Heritage list.”