UNESCO head reaffirms Jewish connection to Jerusalem

The UNESCO director-general reaffirmed the historic bond between Jerusalem and the Jewish people, saying that anyone who contradicts this truth counters UNESCO’s mission.

“In the Torah, Jerusalem is the capital of King David, where Solomon built the Temple and placed the Ark of the Covenant,” stated Irina Bokova, director-general of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), firmly rebuffing any attempts to deny the historical Jewish ties to the Israeli capital.

In a unique statement at the European Coalition for Israel (ECI) policy conference in the European Parliament on Thursday, she clearly distinguished between her role as the highest official of UNESCO and several resolutions recently passed by member states of the same organization that denied the Jewish ties to Jerusalem.

“To deny, conceal or erase any of the Jewish, Christian and Muslim traditions undermines the integrity of the site [Jerusalem], and runs counter to the reasons that justifies its inscription in the UNESCO World Heritage List,” she stated.

“The protection of the heritage of Jerusalem is part of a broader vision for peace and the fight against all forms of denial of Jewish history, delegitimization of Israel and anti-Semitism,” she said in remarks conveyed by UNESCO Director Genc Seitii.

Given the official EU policy of supporting a redivision of Jerusalem and the creation of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital, the conference was unique in that it clearly contradicted EU policy and ambitions, ECI said.

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‘Which Side Will Europe Choose?’

In his keynote speech at the conference, Dr. Dore Gold, head of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA) and former director of Israel’s foreign ministry, presented two competing schools of thought from which the EU will have to choose.

“One school of thought teaches that Islam is superior to any other religion, while the other school of thought wants to protect all religions. Only Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem can preserve all the holy sites while Radical Islam will seek to destroy them,” he stated.

Gold illustrated his point with recent examples, such as the blowing up of ancient Buddha statues in Afghanistan by the Taliban in 2001 and the occupation and desecration of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem in 2002 by Palestinian terrorists.

“Which side will Europe choose – that side which protects holy sites or the one which seeks to destroy them?” he asked.

In his remarks ECI Legal Counsel Andrew Tucker explained why Jerusalem must remain the undivided capital of the State of Israel, adding that a majority of Palestinians living in Jerusalem would prefer to live in the State of Israel rather than in a Palestinian state.

The letter was officially received by Raul Fuentes Milani, head of the Middle East Unit of the European External Action Service. Milani expressed support for the principles of an open Jerusalem and a negotiated solution to the Israeli-Arab conflict.

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Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat sent a recorded video message to the conference, illustrating the diversity in the Holy City by noting that “in one square kilometer we have more churches, mosques and synagogues than anywhere else in the world.”

The conference concluded with the presentation of an open letter in support of a united Jerusalem.

By: Aryeh Savir, World Israel News