ADL Urges UNESCO Director to Protect Integrity of Jerusalem as a Holy City City to Three Monotheistic Religions

October 05, 2016

The Honorable Irina Bukova
Director General

Dear Madam Director General:

We write to you in advance of the UNESCO Executive Board’s 200th session in Paris.  It is expected that the board will again be asked to consider a resolution that would diminish, if not expunge, the Jewish religious connection to Jerusalem.

Along with its highly politicized and unwarranted criticism of Israel, and list of alleged Israeli transgression, this resolution is nearly identical to a resolution passed by the 199th Executive Board session in April in calling the Temple Mount/Holy Sanctuary solely by its Muslim name, and referring to the Western Wall Plaza in quotation marks, after using its Muslim name. 

The newest iteration of this deeply disturbing resolution, does note the fact that Jerusalem is a city holy to three monotheistic religions – Judaism, Christianity and Islam.  However, throughout the text, the three-thousand plus-year Jewish connection to its holiest sites is effectively erased.   This is not only unethical, it contradicts the role of UNESCO as a protector of cultural heritage.  

It is only a few days since Israeli statesman Shimon Peres was laid to rest.  Mr. Peres was dedicated to constructive interactions between Israelis and Palestinians, promoted respect for the other, and worked tirelessly for a future of peace for all in the region.  Resolutions such as these poison the atmosphere and indeed make any steps towards trust or reconciliation all the more difficult. 

Madam Director General, you have used the moral voice of your office to protect the integrity of Jerusalem as a holy city to the three monotheistic religions.  We do so once again.  Both in the interest of preserving UNESCO’s integrity and relevance, and in the interest of affirming the genuine cultural heritage  of Jerusalem.  


Jonathan A. Greenblatt
CEO of the Anti-Defamation League