Rep. Ros-Lehtinen and Sen. Cruz Continue Leading Efforts in Support of Israel

Oct 25, 2016

Rep. Ros-Lehtinen and Sen. Cruz Continue Leading Efforts in Support of Israel

Send letter to members of UNESCO World Heritage Committee urging opposition to another anti-Israel resolution

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) led a bipartisan, bicameral letter to members of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Committee urging opposition to “The Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls” resolution, which denies Jewish and Christian ties to Jerusalem and delegitimizes Israel. Rep. Ros-Lehtinen and Sen. Cruz also recently led a similar letter to members of UNESCO’s Executive Board against this attempt to re-write Jerusalem’s history. In addition to Rep. Ros-Lehtinen’s and Sen. Cruz today’s letter was signed by Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.); and Reps. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), Kay Granger (R-Texas), Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), and Ed Royce (R-Calif.).                       

Statement by Rep. Ros-Lehtinen: “I’m proud to once again join with Ted and our Congressional colleagues, in a bipartisan manner, to urge opposition to UNESCO’s efforts at diminishing Jewish and Christian ties to Jerusalem. UNESCO’s last anti-Israel resolution was roundly criticized yet some of the organization’s members appear single-minded in their efforts to attack the Jewish State, the only country to respect religious freedom in a region beset by religious violence. The continued hypocrisy and repeated attempts by UNESCO Members to distort the truth must be seen for what they are: part and parcel of the larger anti-Israel agenda that exists across the UN system, one designed to delegitimize and isolate the Jewish State. As with so many UN bodies, UNESCO has strayed far from the values and ideals upon which it was founded and it is up to responsible nations to stand up and defeat divisive and historically inaccurate resolutions like these, and finally provide the UN with the reform it so desperately needs.”

Statement by Senator Cruz: “UNESCO will consider another biased resolution that denies the historical connection of the Jewish people to its holy sites in Jerusalem this week. Members of the World Heritage Committee should reject this pernicious effort to delegitimize Israel, and vote against this resolution that attempts to rewrite thousands of years of Jerusalem's Jewish identity, which has been scientifically reaffirmed by the archaeological record.  More and more countries, such as Mexico, Brazil, and Italy, have voiced increasing objections to a similar resolution that was just adopted at the UNESCO Executive Board. It is long past time for more countries to do the same and put an end to this absurd charade to undermine our close ally Israel.”

Read the letter in its entirety below:

October 24, 2016

As the 40th session of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Committee holds its annual meeting on October 24 – 26th, we write to urge your mission to oppose “The Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls” resolution.

The Old City of Jerusalem is important to the three monotheistic religions, and we celebrate the heritage and cultural ties of these religions to Jerusalem. Unfortunately​​, this proposed resolution is yet another attempt to rewrite history by denying Jewish and Christian ties to Jerusalem. The Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism, along with the Western Wall, where Jews from all over the world come to pray, are again described exclusively as Muslim holy sites and are referred to only by their Muslim names. References to the Western Wall are in quotation marks implying that the title is unofficial and not based on historical fact.  

As you may be aware, on October 7th, a group of 41 bipartisan Members of the United States Congress sent letters to Member States of UNESCO’s Executive Board urging them to oppose a similar resolution that was designed to diminish Jewish and Christian ties to Jerusalem and delegitimize Israel. The United States was joined by several other Member delegations voting against the resolution. The resolution also received widespread criticism, as UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova and UNESCO’s Chairman of the Board, Michael Worbs, expressed strong objections over the one-sided text.

Jewish and Christian ties to the holy sites in Jerusalem are irrefutable, and attempts to distort this historical truth undermine the very purpose and integrity of UNESCO. The upcoming resolution at the World Heritage Committee is every bit as divisive as the Executive Board resolution, despite Jerusalem’s inscription as a holy city for Judaism, Christianity and Islam on UNESCO’s World Heritage list. Furthermore, attempting to erase the Jewish and Christian connection to this sacred city will further damage the prospects of peace between Israel and the Palestinians. It is incumbent upon all Member States of the World Heritage Committee to respect and protect the religious, cultural, and historical significance of Jerusalem and to uphold the values and ideals enshrined in UNESCO’s Constitution.

We therefore respectfully urge your mission to UNESCO to oppose “The Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls” resolution at the 40th session of the World Heritage Committee.