Wiesenthal Center Demands Director-General Publicly Condemn UNESCO Vote Casting Western Wall as Muslim Site

“The Attempted Identity Theft of the Western Wall (Kotel) By UNESCO Executive Board will incite more religious-inspired violence against Jews"

Los Angeles, 18 April 2016

In a letter to UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre Associate Dean, Rabbi Abraham Cooper, and its Director for International Relations, Dr. Shimon Samuels, denounced an outrageous resolution passed by the current UNESCO Executive Board that recast the Western Wall (The Kotel) as “the Burka Plaza."

UNESCO’s recent votes related to Israel and Jewish history make a mockery of the UN body’s mandate to protect historic and religious sites. The Wiesenthal Center " was the first to raise the alarm of identity theft and historical distortion to validate 'Palestine' since its entry into UNESCO in 2011. It started with the theft of the Church of the Nativity, Christianity's birthplace in Bethlehem – ironically after the site's terrorist occupation by Fatah.” It continued with “ a series of brazen redefinitions of Jewish sites, including the Tomb of the Patriarchs, Rachel's Tomb and demands that the Qumran Caves and Dead Sea scrolls, be redesignated as part of Islamic heritage.”

Center officials emphasized that “the motor for these thefts are the UNESCO World Heritage Committee and, now, UNESCO itself. For two years, we have exposed plans to Islamicize Judaism's holiest site, the Kotel (the Western Wall at the base of the Temple Mount) to which Jews around the globe have turned to in their daily prayers for thousands of years.”

Rabbi Cooper argued that “the solution just passed by your Executive Board – at the bidding of Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Qatar and Sudan – calling the Temple Mount exclusively by its Arabic, name, Al Aqsa/Haram Al Sharif, while insolently placing the Western Wall in quotes as 'occupied' by Israel, has turned a politically negotiable conflict into a war of religion. Moreover, it is an added provocation to further religious-fueled violence, as in the stabbings of Jewish worshippers on their way to and from prayer at the Wall.”

The officials were outraged that “this anti-Semitic resolution dares to condemn Israeli plans to designate space along the Wall for egalitarian worship – a development to be applauded by champions of women’s and civic rights,” emphasizing that “the claim that Israel planted 'fake Jewish graves in Muslim cemeteries' in east Jerusalem is defamatory and amounts to group libel.”

“Now UNESCO has endorsed all of these calumnies – not only anti-Israel – but an offence against Judaism and the Jewish people itself.” The letter noted that Director-General Bokova, “took the necessary measures at last November's Executive Board to suspend this outrageous resolution. At this session, UNESCO however has been degraded into a platform for an unprecedented political and libelous assault on Judaism.”

“Madam Director-General, we expect you to forcefully and publicly condemn this violation of UNESCO's own self-declared mission,” Center officials concluded.


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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).