Irina Bokova , the Director-General of UNESCO. (AP/Jacques Brinon) (AP/Jacques Brinon)
Irina Bokova

UNESCO Director-General Bokova underscored the significance of respecting all religious connection to Jerusalem, while stressing the Jewish historical links to the holy city. 

Director General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Irina Bokova pledged to defend the rightful links of all three monotheistic religions to Jerusalem, while emphasizing the historical Jewish connection to the city.

Speaking on Monday to the World Jewish Congress’ 15th Plenary Assembly in New York, Bokova said the “recognition, use and respect” for the names of the holy sites in the city used by all religions is “paramount.”

While the Al Aqsa Mosque is sacred to Muslims, the complex “is also the Har Habayit – or Temple Mount – the holiest place in Judaism, whose Western Wall is revered by millions across the world a few steps away from the Saint Sepulchre and the Mount of Olives holy to Christians,” Bokova said.

“The outstanding universal value of Jerusalem, and the reason why it was inscribed on the World Heritage list, lies in this synthesis, which is an appeal for dialogue, not confrontation,” she urged.

“To deny, conceal, or erase any of the Jewish, Christian or Muslim traditions runs counter to the reasons that justified its inscription on the UNESCO World Heritage list,” Bokova told the delegates.

Bokova spoke following a UNESCO resolution promoted by Muslim countries in October that denied Jewish ties to Jerusalem and the Land of Israel.

A similar UNESCO resolution is slated to be voted on at the World Heritage Committee in July, and Israel and the US have engaged in a diplomatic campaign to garner opposition to it.

Bokova herself has condemned UNESCO’s anti-Israel resolutions and received death threats after expressing her personal opposition to the absurd resolution passed by her organization.

This was not the first time Bokova stood on the side of historical truth. In October 2015, she issued a statement “deploring” the Palestinian proposal to have the Western Wall declared a Palestinian site.

“The protection of cultural heritage should not be taken hostage, as this undermines UNESCO’s mandate and efforts,” Bokova said.

Several countries have also voiced opposition to the string of UNESCO motions denying the Jewish bond to Jerusalem, including the US, the Czech Republic, and Italy.

By: Max Gelber, United with Israel

Do You Love Israel? Make a Donation - Show Your Support!

Donate to vital charities that help protect Israeli citizens and inspire millions around the world to support Israel too!

Now more than ever, Israel needs your help to fight and win the war -- including on the battlefield of public opinion.

Antisemitism, anti-Israel bias and boycotts are out of control. Israel's enemies are inciting terror and violence against innocent Israelis and Jews around the world. Help us fight back!