YONKERS, NY — October 20, 2015 — Amidst the unprecedented violence in Israel and the international uproar over Arab attempts to have UNESCO identify Jerusalem’s Western Wall – Judaism’s holiest site – as Palestinian, senior officials of the Simon Wiesenthal Center had a conference call with UNESCO’s Director General Irina Bokova earlier today.
“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,” said Rabbis Marvin Hier and Abraham Cooper.
Rabbi Hier also spoke of the damage to UNESCO’s core mission of protecting historic and religious sites around the world. He told the Director General, “Declaring the Western Wall a Palestinian site would be like turning over Mount Sinai to ISIS.”
Director General Bokova, who earlier expressed her opposition to the resolution, is in the midst of ongoing diplomatic consultations. She emphasized that she is urging member state to return to UNESCO’s core mandate.
Center officials also brought to her attention a publication by the Supreme Muslim Council, which was published annually from 1924 to 1953. Referring to the Dome of the Rock and the Temple Mount, the document says, “The site is one of the oldest in the world. Its sanctity dates from the earliest (perhaps from pre-historic) times. Its identity with the site of Solomon’s Temple is beyond dispute.”
The Simon Wiesenthal Center is one of the largest international Jewish human rights organizations with over 400,000 member families in the United States. It is an NGO at international agencies including the United Nations, UNESCO, the OSCE, the OAS, the Council of Europe and the Latin American Parliament (Parlatino).