B’nai B’rith International President Gary P. Saltzman and CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin have issued the following statement:
The ongoing politicization of the work of the World Heritage Committee is outrageous. The vital role of cultural preservation that the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) plays has been compromised again and again by inflammatory resolutions that have sought to erase the established, and thousands-of-years long, connection of Jews to Israel.
We sent a letter to the World Heritage Committee expressing our alarm at these unfolding efforts.
“As you know, the Palestinians and member states hostile to Israel are likely at the upcoming WHC session to raise matters related to the cities of Jerusalem and Hebron. On Jerusalem, the Palestinians have devastated UNESCO’s reputation by putting forward past inflammatory resolutions that have absurdly sought to erase the Jewish connection to the Temple Mount—the holiest site in Judaism—and tried to completely deny Israel’s sovereignty in its capital city, to say nothing of an endless list of distortions and baseless accusations against Israel. If UNESCO is to begin to try to rehabilitate its image, the first step must be a rejection of biased, offensive resolutions on Jerusalem.”
We continued: “On Hebron, the Palestinians are attempting to name the Cave of the Patriarchs (Me’arat Ha’machpela in Hebrew) to the list of World Heritage Sites in Danger. Though profoundly holy to three major world faiths, the site is not yet on the World Heritage list. More to the point, it is not in danger. The site is operated by Israel in accordance with agreements with the Palestinian Authority and is open to people of diverse faiths.”
We also noted: “Unnecessary UNESCO resolutions that attack Israel with a litany of false accusations, or deny Jews’ connection to their holiest of sites, will not bring about conditions in which peace can thrive. These resolutions only make peace more difficult to achieve and will continue to degrade the credibility of UNESCO.”
The Jewish connection to these sites is not a changeable narrative, as the Palestinians would have the committee believe.