Paris – The Israeli government and Jewish groups have expressed outrage at a resolution adopted by the U.N. cultural agency that put the Western Wall Plaza in quotation marks, described Jewish sites as “so-called” and even claimed that some Jewish graves were bogus.
The resolution , sponsored by several Arab countries and adopted by UNESCO’s 58-nation executive board last week, condemned the Israeli government’s stewardship of east Jerusalem, home to the city’s most sensitive holy sites.
The April 15 document also decried the renovation of “so-called Jewish ritual baths” and the alleged creation of “Jewish fake graves.” Sites were either referred to by their Arabic or English names or, in the case of the Western Wall Plaza, the holiest site where Jews can pray, were put in quotes.
Jewish groups were appalled by the language and anger has been percolating for days over what was seen as a disavowal of Jewish claims to holy sites in Jerusalem and elsewhere. Many Jews see it as the latest example of an ingrained anti-Israel bias at the United Nations, where Israel and its allies are far outnumbered by Arab countries and their supporters.
In a letter sent Thursday and obtained by The Associated Press, senior Israeli diplomat Dore Gold — a former ambassador to the United Nations — described the resolution as “hideous.”
UNESCO declined comment, instead pointing the AP to a statement issued on April 17 by the organization’s director-general, Irina Bokova, in response to the resolution, and a letter written to a French Jewish group the next day.
“This organization should not be politicized,” Bokova wrote in the letter. “As director-general of UNESCO I’ve taken a stand to avoid inflaming the situation in the Middle East any further.”