ILF and StandWithUs Petition Submitted to UNESCO Director-General


The ILF and the Israel education organization StandWithUs (SWU), joined hands with Israel’s Ambassador to UNESCO, in a meeting with UNESCO’s Director-General, Irina Bokova on October 25, 2016. They personally submitted a petition initiated by the two organizations which protests UNESCO’s draft resolution passed on 12.10.2016, and the resolution of 15.4.16, and calls upon UNESCO to recognize the irrefutable deep historic, cultural and religious connection between the Jewish people and the land of Israel. The petition was signed by over 78,000 from all over the world, and represents the opinions of millions of Jews, Christians and others worldwide.

Israel’s Ambassador and Permanent Delegate of Israel to UNESCO, along with Yifa Segal, Director of the ILF and Shahar Azani, StandWithUs’ Northeast Executive Director, officially submitted the petition, which fights the mendacious UNESCO draft resolution that erases the 3,000-year-old Jewish connection to Jerusalem. The meeting took place a day before another resolution is scheduled to be voted on Wednesday, October 26, 2016.

The petition states that UNESCO was created with the clear mandate to build bridges between nations, protecting heritage and supporting cultural diversity. The Temple Mount is the holiest place in the world for the Jewish people where, according to Jewish, Greek, Roman, Christian and Islamic sources, two Jewish Temples stood.  By deliberately ignoring the over 3,000-year-old Jewish connection to the Temple Mount, UNESCO violates the basic human rights of Jews everywhere, as well as those of other religions whose beliefs and heritage include the spiritual and historical connection of the Jewish people to Jerusalem. In addition, such unfounded and erroneous resolutions not only distort history, but undermine UNESCO’s own mandate to bring nations together, and support incitement and anti-Semitism which might lead to violence.

Director-General of UNESCO Irina Bokova, received the delegation and the petition, making it clear that she is dissatisfied with the motion, and reiterating what she said just a few days ago: “To deny, conceal or erase any of the Jewish, Christian or Muslim traditions undermines the integrity of the site, and runs counter to the reasons that justified its inscription on the UNESCO World Heritage list. When these divisions carry over into UNESCO, an organization dedicated to dialogue and peace, they prevent us from carrying out our mission”.


Ambassador and Permanent Delegate of Israel to UNESCO Mr. Carmel Shama Hacohen said that: “This petition is yet another manifestation of the deep bond between Jerusalem and the Jewish people. The list of states and leaders expressing remorse for their past votes and object to the Arab proposals is getting longer and longer. Whomever thinks Italy’s Prime Minister was the last surprise in this regard for the Arabs, will find themselves surprised again and again. The petition presents a strong moral voice, much more than the immoral Arab proposal trying to erase 3000-year-old history with ignorance and insolence. Israel respects Muslim and other faiths and their presence in our holiest of places, and it is tragic that the other side doesn’t have a leadership which will do the same, but rather one which is engaged only in doing the exact opposite. This is no longer an Israeli-Palestinian struggle, but an Arab struggle against the entire Jewish world. It is clear that Israel and the Jewish people will survive this, yet it remains unclear whether UNESCO will. Israel would like to express its profound appreciation for the organizers of this proper and sound petition, who made their way here to send a clear message to the world: we shall all defend the Jewish connection with Jerusalem, no matter where we are around the world”.


ILF Direcor Yifa Segal stressed that “this petition reflects the views of millions of people around the world, who are unwilling to accept destructive resolutions that attempt to rewrite history. Such resolutions are dangerous and undermine the very reasoning behind the existence of international organizations such as UNESCO”.

Photo Credit: Erez Lichtfeld