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October 20, 2015 5:46 pm

Global Jewish Groups Outraged Over UNESCO Western Wall Resolution

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The Birkat HaCohanim ("priestly blessing" in Hebrew) at the Western Wall in 1995. Photo: Moshe Milner/the Israeli government press office via

The Birkat HaCohanim (“priestly blessing” in Hebrew) at the Western Wall in 1995. Photo: Moshe Milner/the Israeli government press office via

Jewish groups around the globe roundly condemned a proposal introduced by six Arab countries at the U.N.’s cultural arm that would strip Israel’s cultural and historic ties from the Western Wall plaza.

Senior officials at the Simon Wiesenthal Center held a conference call with UNESCO’s director-general,the Bulgarian diplomat Irina Bokova, who had already condemned the incendiary nature of the Arab proposal.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry vowed on Monday to stop what it called the Arab countries’ “underhanded maneuver” at UNESCO.

Rabbis Marvin Hier and Abraham Cooper of the Wiesenthal Center said “This is a redline for the entire world’s Jewish community.  It is an affront to all Jews, left and right, secular and religious, and an attack on Judaism.  If such a resolution would be approved it would certainly increase the violence in Jerusalem and destroy any prospects for peace in the Middle East.”

“Declaring the Western Wall a Palestinian site would be like turning over Mount Sinai to ISIS,” Rabbi Hier told Bokova in a comment likely directed at Egypt, one of the Arab countries that introduced the resolution.

American Jewish Committee Executive Director David Harris flung back some of the Palestinian side’s recent allegations, accusing Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of seeking to alter the status quo at the Temple Mount.

Abbas is “shamelessly seeking to undermine truth, change the status quo, add to an already volatile situation that he irresponsibly created, and thereby once again set back the quest for peace and coexistence,” he said. “We urge UNESCO Executive Board member states to do the right and responsible thing — reject this naked assault on historical fact and brazen effort to strip the Jewish people of the age-old link to our most sacred site, the Western Wall.”

World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder on Tuesday called the resolution a “travesty” and warned UNESCO against exacerbating tensions in Israel, which has lately been convulsed by terrorist attacks.

Ahead of a vote by the UNESCO Executive Council later this week, Lauder said the proposal “goes in the face of the UNESCO Constitution, which very clearly states the organization’s aim to contribute to peace and security by promoting collaboration and coexistence. It would make a mockery of that founding principle if the UNESCO Executive Council were to back such a resolution. UNESCO must not be turned into a battleground for conflicts between religions.”

The Anti-Defamation League urged all 58 members of UNESCO’s executive board to reject the resolution, warning it threatened to exacerbate tensions.

ADL chief executive, Jonathan Greenblatt, said: “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.”

And in Europe, Chief Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, president of the Conference of European Rabbis, called the resolution absurd.

“It is an historical fact that the Western Wall is a part of Herod’s Temple and so for it to be suggested that the Western Wall has overnight ceased to become of Jewish significance after millennia of Jewish observance is ridiculous and simply not plausible. Common sense must prevail so that Jews across the world are able to continue to visit our holiest site,” he said.

Nathan Diament, Orthodox Union Public Policy executive director, said “This shameful resolution completely ignores the historical connection of the Jewish people to Jerusalem and this particular site—the site of the ancient Holy Temple—which dates back more than 2,000 years. In addition, this resolution is a brazen attempt to rewrite history, and will further inflame the ongoing wave of violence and terrorism against Israeli citizens. We call upon the international community to recognize this resolution for the absurdity that it is.”

B’nai B’rith, writing to Bokova, explaining that “Since the destruction of Second Temple over 2000 years ago, Jews have looked to the Kotel [Western Wall] with hope for the rebirth of sovereignty in our ancient homeland. We have put notes in the crevices of the wall with prayers. The connection between the Jewish people and the Kotel is strong, and eternal.”

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  • NSA

    Haven’t you heard? Mohammed ascended into heaven in Jerusalem AND in Vatican City. Also Einstein didn’t discover e=mc^2, it was actually Mohammed who figured it out 1300 years ago, but the stupid history books got it wrong again.

  • Joseph Feld

    Viscount Herbert Samuel was the first High Commissioner for British Palestine. On his way to Palestine he stopped in Rome to discuss the status quo with Pope Benedict XV. He reasured the Pope that ‘an impartial attitude would be observed towards all religions and that there would be complete religious tolerance abd liberty in British Palestine’.Israeli Law enshrines the guarantee that Israel will protect the holy sites of Jews, Christians and Muslims. The Temple Mount is the holiest Jewish site and therefore the state has the obligation to protect Jewish access. The Israeli Supreme Court, under Chief Justice Aharon Barak, ruled that Jews have the legal right to ascend the Temple Mount and to pray privately, without interfering with Muslims also visiting the Temple Mount. Contrary to BBC Panorama on the Jerusalem light rail, Israel has no plans to interfere with Aqsa or the Dome.Just a new low point for BBC Middle East reporting.

  • Jerry Enis

    There have been many attempts over the years to manipulate the mission of the United Nations to give credence to a dishonest cause. Never has there been so outrageous an attempt to attach the UN logo to so despicable a request. If I didn’t know that he was dead and gone, I would believe Josef Goebbels had been resurrected and was calling the shots in the Arab world.

  • Atilla

    Israel should leave the UN, expel ALL UN and NGO parasites and impose a total ban on their admittance to Israel or Gaza.

    There is nothing to be gained from being a member of a cabal of corrupt, anti-Semitic, third world criminals.

  • Lou VanDelman

    This only shows me that whatever we do, it will never be enough to satisfy islamists in the middle east or anywhere else around the world. I am convinced that Israel must dig in her heels and say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. We must declare what our borders are – from the sea from the west to the Jordan river to the east – a two state solution is not a solution and therefore must be eliminated as a part of a peace agreement. Arabs living in the State of Israel will be considered dhimmis as Jews who live in arab lands are – second class citizens who pay additional taxes for the privilege of living there. The Temple Mount is in Israel and Jews can pray there if they wished any any time they wished to, without any interference by anybody. The arabs must finally realize that they lost several wars and that they were the losers. They cannot be allowed to dictate terms.

  • Elisheva

    Beyond being absurd this act show us the hostile nature of Abbas and his grasping to destroy Judaism. We are dealing with a very evil leader who should no longer have any power. He is no longer an elected official as his term is long over. He is one of the many Haman’s of our time. He is the leader of a Death Cult and nothing more or less.

  • Paul

    Let’s suggest to the UN that the Kaaba at Mecca be recognised as a Jewish Holy site

  • Isaac Semaya

    It is the most obvious move by the Arab countries who demand that UNESCO declare the WESTERN WALL as part of the Palestinian Temple Mount. The Arabs want to turn UNESCO into an instrument of WAR. The continue lies about the Temple Mount by the Arabs is a clear call to war. A war that will not be just in the Middle East but they will start WORLD WAR 3. They want to change History because they are a failure as a Religion who profess to be peace loving. They want to divert the hatred of Sunni against Shia into a war against Israel. It is time for the rest of the world move out of the way and allow them to destroy each other. Then the world could live in peace.

  • Kerry M. Berger

    While we know Egypt was one of the signatories to this ludicrous resolution, who were the other parties. The US needs to condemn Egypt and the other nations by scaling down relations or delay or cancel visas for those responsible. They should not be able to step foot in the United States. Arab States have got to stop their bigoted blame game and recognize that Israel is there to stay and we are not going back to a pre 1948 situation. This is the 21st Century.

  • Hillel

    It would appear that Hadrian’s legacy in naming this land “Palestina” lives on in the heretical guise of “Non existent Palestine” dictator Abbas who gained his “USSR” doctorate in rewriting history claiming his hero Hitler wasn’t such a bad guy and didn’t kill nearly as many as 6 million Jews, only a million or so; what’s your problem. The backstabbing old fart wants to finish the job along with his inbred cohort. He will soon meet his maker, I hope he gets a “hot” welcome. The coward will be calling out for his mommy when he’s breathing his last breath. It should be recorded and published.

  • steven L

    Outrage solves NOTHING. It all started with Moshe Dayan!!!
    Ship al Aksa to Aman and increase Jordan tourism. Let the other side express its outrage!!!
    Probably the EU will either abstain or support the bill!

  • ART

    Enough!! The stole,diaspora, holocaust, genocide, the Kotel,much of our land, Jerusalem. They hate us yet the steal our heritage. No more concessions. No more equivocating. Let’s take back what is ours

  • Mickey Oberman

    Some day, inevitably, the Jews will have to drive Islam and all its symbols from The Temple Mount.

    Otherwise this type of crude enticement will continue without end.

    It must be obvious by now that one can not negotiate with the Arabs.
    All they comprehend is violence.
    There can never be peace with these stone age barbarians.

    The sooner the inevitable takes place the sooner Israel will know peace.

  • Hamanslayer

    When I was a graduate student at LIU (Brooklyn) in the 60’s, the chair of the Sociology & Anthropology Dept. took immense pride in the fact he was able to attract to his staff Dr. Arthur Gagliotti, who had just retired as Director of UNESCO at the UN headquarters in New York.

    (The HQ of UNESCO was in Paris, and its overall director was there, but heading the New York office, at the UN, was still an awesome, responsible position.)

    When Dr. Gagliotti was asked questions about the behavior of the “First Committee” (that’s the Security Council) or the General Assembly, where politics and self-interest were the rule of the day and growing, he always liked to point out that the “good” side of the UN was its non-political agencies, like UNESCO, which were not controlled by political interests and did a great deal of beneficial work.

    In fact, one of the guest speakers invited to deliver a lecture to the Sociology Department that year, was the delegate to the UN from Sierra Leone. From the way he spoke, you would think his native language was English — but of course it was really French.

    This delegate delivered a nice lecture, and then was asked by students, based on some of the things he had said, why he voted at the UN the way he did (such as votes against the Unites States, or Israel — or other votes, which did not accord well with the things he said in his lecture).

    The honorable delegate sighed, and explained that as a UN delegate he must follow his governments directives, which are based on its political interests, not vote his conscience or values. But, he was quick to add, that was NOT the important side of the UN and its work. The important side was the work done by the great agencies, like UNESCO, WHO, FAO, ILO, UPU and so on. (There are, I believe, 18 such agencies, some of which were not created by the UN, but were co-opted into it.)

    Undoubtedly, some good work is still being done by some of these agencies. However, since the 1960’s, the trend has been to politicize them more and more as time goes by. It is doubtful Dr. Gagliotti OR the honorable delegate from Sierra Leone would consider these agencies apolitical today…

    The latest move in UNESCO concerning the Western Wall (the Kotel) is but a small example of this.

  • reevin stein

    It seems to me what everyone is trying to say is PA-fatach has developed a new paradigm to destroy Israel because, since ’67, the UN has refused to recognize Yerishalyim as the Jewish capitol. The paradigm: control HaraByis–> control Yerishalyim–> conquer Israel. What war, war+diplomacy, diplomacy, diplomacy+terror, terror+ diplomacy could not accomplish, UN(GA,SC,ICC)+organizations may accomplish, with little expenditure of respources.

    It Is Time For USA To Intervene Determinedly At UNESCO.

  • lynda m. pizer

    I am a 71 year old American social worker. I have never, in my lifetime, experienced such international vitriol against Jews and Israelis. This is not just creeping fascist beliefs but a wake up call to war on democracy(and Jews).

    • lynda m. pizer

      What shall I modify? These are my observations of the world we currently live in. Too angry? Well, I am very angry and fearful of what is happening to democracy!

  • Alex R-

    UNESCO’s board of directors has been put on notice.

    Let us wait and see what resolution they will take. Even admitting or considering said proposal is preposterous and, for Israel, a great opportunity to break away from this so-called cultural organization whose culture, it seems, is dominated by the illuminated ISIS bunch.

  • This is an outrage which must be condemned unconditionally by all participating governments and leaders of all religious civil and sectarian organizations