French Jews protest abstention on UNESCO’s Jerusalem resolution
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French Jews protest abstention on UNESCO’s Jerusalem resolution

Jewish lobby group organizes rally outside Paris foreign ministry in show of 'profound disappointment'

UNESCO logo
UNESCO logo

France’s main Jewish groups urged members to rally in front of the headquarters of the country’s foreign ministry to protest its failure to oppose a UN resolution that ignores Jewish ties to Jerusalem.

CRIF, the political lobby group representing French Jewish communities, in a rare move was joined by the Consistoire, French Jewry’s organ responsible for religious services, in organizing a protest rally for Thursday opposite the Quai d’Orsay in Paris in reaction to the passing of two resolutions on Jerusalem this month by UNESCO committees.

France was among 26 countries that abstained from voting during the first resolution, which the Palestinians initiated and which was passed on October 13 by the executive board of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. It refers to the Western Wall and the Temple Mount only by their Arabic-language names. Similar language was passed Wednesday by the World Heritage Committee; France does not sit on that committee.

In May, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls apologized for his country’s support for an earlier resolution passed by UNESCO in April, which also was seen to erase Jewish ties to Jerusalem.

“We were shocked by the anti-Israeli obsession of UNESCO and are now revolted by its disavowal of its own values,” CRIF President Francis Kalifat wrote Wednesday in his call for French Jews to rally outside Quai d’Orsay. Hundreds are expected to convene there at 6 p.m. on Thursday.

CRIF President Francis Kalifat poses in Paris, France, on May 29, 2016. (AFP/Francois Guillot)
CRIF President Francis Kalifat poses in Paris, France, on May 29, 2016. (AFP/Francois Guillot)

“This indignation is compounded by a profound disappointment in France’s choice to abstain during the executive board vote,” he added.

Noting that the street protest was not initiated by CRIF, he wrote: “Other groups decided to take this indignation to the street and I salute their initiative.” Kalifat also called on “all of CRIF’s member groups to join [the protesters] to make audible a loud voice, faithful to historical veracity.”

The Consistoire, which usually does not get involved in debates of a partisan nature or about foreign policy issues, was more laconic in its call to rally. “Following the vote on Jerusalem by UNESCO, a demonstration of protest opposite the Quai d’Orsay,” read the email the Consistoire sent Wednesday to its mailing list.

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