Jerusalem Mayor Leads Global Jewish Condemnation of UNESCO Passage of Anti-Israel Resolution
Israeli political figures and US Jewish groups reacted with anger on Tuesday following UNESCO’s passage of a resolution that condemned what it called the Jewish state’s “illegal” presence in Jerusalem.
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat declared he was “outraged” by the resolution, which was approved by a 22-10 vote (with 23 abstentions and three absences).
“The resolution that UNESCO passed today demonstrates once again the ludicrous and anti-Israel nature of the organization,” Barkat stated. “Rather than support Jerusalem, they choose to side with our enemies. Our response is to continue to develop and advance the city of Jerusalem, the eternal home and capital of the Jewish people.”
He concluded: “Happy Independence Day to the State of Israel and to Jerusalem, which is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the city’s reunification!”
World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder also blasted the resolution, calling it “a distorted, dangerous and illegitimate revision of history, which serves only as bait for adversaries of Israel seeking to strip the Jewish people’s right to self-determination and deny its historic and religious link to Jerusalem.”
Lauder also thanked the ten countries — Germany, Greece, Italy, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Paraguay, Togo, Ukraine, the UK and the US — who voted against the resolution for “speaking up for truth and justice.”
David Harris, the executive director of the American Jewish Committee, said these ten countries “asserted moral leadership in unequivocally rejecting this malicious Arab-sponsored resolution.”
“The Palestinian leadership and their allies have consistently abused UNESCO as a forum to censure Israel, including on Israel’s Independence Day today,” Harris went on to say. “This misguided strategy undermines the UNESCO mission, and does nothing to advance the peace that the Palestinians continue to assert they desire.”
B’nai B’rith International President Gary P. Saltzman and CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin stated, “The large number of abstentions and a steadily growing — though limited — number of nations willing to reject an absurd motion attempting to erase Israel’s millennia connection to Jerusalem demonstrates a moral line in the sand.”
Saltzman and Mariaschin singled out Sweden — the only European nation to vote in favor of the resolution — for condemnation, saying the country “stands out among European nations for its disdain of the facts that link Israel and Jews to the city [Jerusalem].”
Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan A. Greenblatt called the resolution “defamatory and problematic in the extreme.”
In a statement published earlier on Tuesday, Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon said, “This biased and blatantly deceitful decision, and the attempts to dispute the connection between Israel and Jerusalem, will not change the simple fact that this city is the historic and eternal capital of the Jewish people. Israel will not stand silently by in the face of this shameful resolution.”
Before the resolution was voted on, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at the International Bible Contest in Jerusalem on Tuesday, “There is no other people in the world for whom Jerusalem is as holy and important as for the Jewish people, even though a meeting will take place at UNESCO today that will try to deny this historical truth.”
“We denounce UNESCO and uphold our truth, which is the truth,” he went on to say.
On Monday, Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations Chairman Stephen M. Greenberg and Executive Vice Chairman and CEO Malcolm Hoenlein characterized the pending resolution as “a further attempt to politicize UNESCO and to interfere in a sensitive and complex matter. UNESCO’s actions regarding Jerusalem and other holy sites are an affront to all who want to see meaningful peace negotiations and continue to deny thousands of years of Jewish and Christian history and tradition.”
Last fall, UNESCO passed two resolutions that similarly denied the Jewish people’s ties with Jerusalem.