The head of the United Nations told leaders from the Simon Wiesenthal Center that “denial of Israel’s right to exist is anti-Semitism,” the Jewish organization announced in a press release on Tuesday.
Speaking at his offices at the UN headquarters in New York, Secretary-General António Guterres discussed the UN’s role in countering growing anti-Semitism in Europe, ending the demonization of Israel at the UN — including by agencies such as UNRWA, UNESCO, and the UN Human Rights Council — and obstacles facing the prospect of Middle East peace.
Guterres, the former prime minister of Portugal, also denounced campaigns to erase Jewish and Christian history in Jerusalem, saying, “History must be respected. Jerusalem is a holy city for three religions.”
UNESCO, the United Nations’ cultural agency, has recently passed several Arab-sponsored resolutions ignoring Jewish and Christian ties to Jerusalem, particularly the Temple Mount. The latest resolution, which was voted on as Israel celebrated its 69th Independence Day, claimed that Israel has no historical or legal right to any part of Jerusalem. Earlier UNESCO resolutions affirmed the Temple Mount’s sanctity for Muslims only, prompting Guterres to point out that a Jewish temple once stood on the site. Palestinian officials blasted Guterres for those remarks, with a Palestinian Authority minister saying that Guterres “neglected the UNESCO resolutions, which clearly said that the al-Aqsa Mosque is purely an Islamic heritage.”
Guterres pledged before the World Jewish Congress in late April to be “on the front lines in the fight against anti-Semitism” and said “the modern form of anti-Semitism is the denial of the existence of the State of Israel.” In January, the UN chief said that Israel should be treated as any other nation by the UN General Assembly, which adopted 20 resolutions against the Jewish state in 2016 and only six on the rest of the world combined.
[Photo: Eric Bridiers/U.S. Mission]