“UNESCO cannot be a platform for distortion and hatred.”

Paris, 24 June 2019

In a letter to UNESCO Director-General, Audrey Azoulay, Simon Wiesenthal Centre Director for International Relations, Dr. Shimon Samuels, expressed dire concern at “the forthcoming World Heritage Committee (WHC) document (WHC/19/43.COM/7A/Add.3) issued by UNESCO on 21 June, regarding the ‘Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls’ and ‘Hebron/Al Khalil Old Town (Palestine)’.”

Samuels argued: “As the only Jewish NGO accredited to the WHC, we must speak, not just for our 400,000 members worldwide, but for the Jewish people and for Judaism itself.”

The letter claimed that, “Each year, since the entry of Palestine into UNESCO in 2011, Jewish heritage has been trampled and stolen to validate a Palestinian narrative... ’Palestine’ is designated as the ‘State-Party’, while Israel is derided as ‘the Occupying Power’.”

The Centre stated: “A Jewish voice does not speak for the sovereign State of Israel, even when that State Party has decided to leave UNESCO... The Jewish voice, however, is deeply concerned when UNESCO attributes sovereign heritage to a state without defined borders.”

Samuels asked, “How would the WHC host, Azerbaijan, react if UNESCO were to so designate sites in Armenian-occupied Nagorno-Karabakh, adding, “Yet, Hebron/Al Khalil is, by fiat, handed to ‘Palestine’, with the Machpela Tomb of the Biblical Patriarchs, a synagogue now presented only as the Al Haram-Al Ibrahimi mosque.” ... “The Jewish people will not return to a discriminatory status under the British Mandate from 1922 until 1948, when they were prohibited to enter the Cave beyond the seventh step.”

He continued, “We view the I.D. theft of the Jewish heritage through UNESCO – what is considered by much of world Jewry – as an antisemitic campaign to deJudaize the Holy Land, that encourages attacks on Jews in Europe and beyond. UNESCO cannot be abused as a platform for distortion and hatred.”

The letter stressed: “We join our Christian friends, who were the first victims of such I.D. theft in the 2012 Palestinian takeover of the birthplace of Christianity, the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, after the Church had been violently occupied by Palestinian terrorists.”

“Madam Director-General, you entered UNESCO with a well-appreciated campaign for depoliticization of the WHC. Now is the moment to prevent repoliticization, beginning with Hebron and the Caves if the Patriarchs – a site of truly Jewish, Christian and Moslem narrative and world heritage, but not Palestinian heritage!” concluded Samuels.