Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

Israel cuts ties with UNESCO

 


JERUSALEM (AP)—Israel suspended cooperation with UNESCO on Friday, Oct. 14, a day after the U.N. cultural agency adopted a draft resolution that Israel says denies the deep historic Jewish connection to holy sites in Jerusalem.

UNESCO’s draft resolution, titled “Occupied Palestine” and sponsored by several Arab countries, uses only the Islamic name for a hilltop compound sacred to both Jews and Muslims, which includes the Western Wall, a remnant of the biblical temple and the holiest site where Jews can pray.

Israelis and many Jews around the world viewed it as the latest example of an ingrained anti-Israel bias at the United Nations, where Israel and its allies are far outnumbered by Arab countries and their supporters.

The draft resolution, seen by The Associated Press, diminished the links to Judaism of two important holy sites in Jerusalem’s Old City.

The text refers to the site known by Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and by Jews as the Temple Mount only by its Muslim name. The draft resolution refers to the Muslim site of Al-Buraq Plaza without quotations, but puts the site’s Jewish name, the Western Wall Plaza, in inverted commas.

Education Minister Naftali Bennett informed UNESCO of Israel’s decision on Friday.

“Following the shameful decision by UNESCO members to deny history and ignore thousands of years of Jewish ties to Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, I have notified the Israel National Commission for UNESCO to suspend all professional activities with the international organization,” Bennett said.

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said he was “outraged” by the resolution. “Would UNESCO vote to deny the Christian connection to the Vatican? Or the Muslim connection to Mecca? The UNESCO vote claims that there is no connection between the Jewish people and the Western Wall. In fact, it is the UNESCO vote that has no connection to reality.”

UNESCO chief Irina Bokova expressed dismay with the draft resolution, which came from member states, saying that “different peoples worship the same places, sometimes under different names. The recognition, use of and respect for these names is paramount.”

The spat is the latest in Israel’s rocky relations with UNESCO.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dubbed the resolution “absurd” after it was announced and on Friday tweeted: “What’s next? A UNESCO decision denying the connection between peanut butter and jelly? Batman and Robin? Rock and roll?”

See the Weekly roundup (page 13A) for more on this.

 

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