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“Suspend Tehran and Ramallah from UNESCO and freeze their heritage sites in process.”

Paris, 17 May 2020

In its capacity as the only Jewish organization accredited to the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre Permanent Observer, Dr. Shimon Samuels, on 20 February alerted the Director-General to the Iranian regime’s threat to destroy the tomb of Esther and Mordechai in Hamadan – a historic shrine holy to Judaism and Christianity.

Reportedly, there are plans to place on its ruins a Palestinian consulate.

The Centre then urged UNESCO “to convoke the Iranian and Palestinian representatives, under its mandate to protect sites of universal importance, to ensure that this outrage is stopped.”

On 26 February, Assistant Director General for Culture, Ernesto Ottone, responded: “The preamble of the 1972 Convention states that ‘the deterioration or disappearance of any item of the cultural or natural heritage constitutes a harmful impoverishment of the heritage of all the nations of the world’... In this spirit, we will take up the issue with the State party of Iran in order to receive up-to-date information about the concerns raised by you.”

Samuels now calls on Director General, Audrey Azoulay, “to suspend Iran in view of its defiance of UNESCO, the international community and in violation of the World Heritage Convention.”

“A Palestinian consulate on the ruins adds to the pernicious act of arson and should incur a freeze of the two parties’ sites in process.”

“No one is surprised by this barbaric attack,” declared Rabbis Marvin Hier and Abraham Cooper, Dean and Founder and Associate Dean and Director of Global Social Action of the leading Jewish Human Rights NGO, in a statement released in Los Angeles.

“Historically, Muslims safeguarded Jewish holy sites from Persia to Morocco, including the Tomb of Esther and Mordechai. But all that has changed under the Ayatollahs and the terrorist movements they have spawned. In recent years there have been annual anti-Semitic protests at the Holy Site where Jews have come to pray peacefully for hundreds of years.”

“The torching of this Jewish holy site is reminiscent of the Nazis, who not only killed the living, but desecrated the dead. The attack took place against the backdrop of the Mullahcracy’s drumbeat of genocidal hatred against the Jewish people, its state-sponsored policy of Holocaust denial and denigration. In such an environment a violent attack against Jews, Judaism, and Jewish heritage should surprise no one,” Hier and Cooper concluded.