(September 26, 2018 / JNS) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed on Wednesday that Israel will indeed be withdrawing from the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), skipping an event sponsored by the organization on the topic of anti-Semitism.
Netanyahu, who is in New York to attend the U.N. General Assembly, said that “while I commend all efforts to combat anti-Semitism, I have decided not to participate in this week’s UNESCO conference on anti-Semitism due to the organization’s persistent and egregious bias against Israel.”
In a statement, he said “since 2009, UNESCO has passed 71 resolutions condemning Israel and only two resolutions condemning all other countries combined. This is simply outrageous.
“The mark of anti-Semitism was once singling out the Jewish people for slander and condemnation,” he continued. “The mark of anti-Semitism today is singling out the Jewish state for slander and condemnation.”
Netanyahu said the organization “must do more than host a conference on anti-Semitism. It must stop practicing anti-Semitism.”
In 2017, Israel and the United States announced they would withdraw from the organization, after years of controversy over UNESCO’s rejection of key points of Jewish history.
In 2010, UNESCO officially decided that the Tomb of Rachel in Bethlehem was rightfully a mosque and appealed to Israel to give up the site, along with the Tomb of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs in Hebron, calling them “an integral part of the occupied Palestinian Territories.”
In 2011, UNESCO accepted the Palestinian Authority as a full member state.
In 2016, the international body officially declared that the Jewish people have no connection to the Temple Mount (which UNESCO would only refer to as “Al-Haram al-Sharif”) in Jerusalem or its abutting structure, the Western Wall.
In 2017, UNESCO made the Ibrahimi mosque a Palestinian World Heritage Site—a site known by a different name in much of the world: the Tomb of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs in Hebron, where the Jewish founding ancestors are buried in a city that has maintained a Jewish presence for thousands of years.
“No matter what UNESCO says, the Western Wall is not occupied Palestinian territory and the Cave of the Patriarchs—the burial site of Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, Jacob and Leah—is not a Palestinian Heritage Site,” Netanyahu said on Wednesday. “In withdrawing from UNESCO in 2017, Israel and the United States made a clear moral statement that UNESCO’s anti-Semitism will no longer be tolerated.”