Israel launches new plan to ‘defend Jerusalem’ in international arena

The Israeli government is launching a new plan to “defend Jerusalem in the international arena,” Jerusalem and Heritage Minister Ze’ev Elkin announced Monday.

Addressing a conference for Christian journalists in the capital, Elkin said Jerusalem was under “an unprecedented assault,” pointing to recent resolutions passed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) that ignored the Jewish people’s link to the city.

Together with the Foreign Ministry, Elkin said his office was committed to “prepare, budget and lead” a project to defend Jerusalem from various historical distortions.

“The plan will include visits to Jerusalem of influencers from diverse fields and nations, who will be exposed directly to the past and present of this wondrous city, and will be able to take part in the holy task of defending its future,” he said.

“All who wander even a single day in the streets of ancient Jerusalem, in the City of David, in the Old City, on the Mount of Olives, who touch its stones and listen to what they have to say, will be incapable of taking part in that erasing of the history of this city.”

His ministry is planning to hold several “large conferences” in Jerusalem this year, he added. The list includes a gathering of jurists on how international law views the status of Jerusalem, a conference bringing together the Knesset with parliamentary friendship caucuses from around the world, and a new scientific gathering on the the city’s archaeology and history.

“This city knows how to defend its good name and its past. One only has to come to her, to open one’s heart and to listen to what she has to say,” Elkin said.

Elkin’s office also decided to establish a permanent international “Defender of Jerusalem” prize designated for individuals who “contributed in unique ways to the battle for Jerusalem’s international standing and against the warping of history,” he announced.

The committee selecting the honorees will include Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, former Hebrew University president Menachem Ben-Sasson, Jerusalem Foundation head Johanna Arbib and others.

Addressing the Government Press Office’s first-ever Christian Media Summit, Elkin hailed Jerusalem as the most important city in Judaism and “the birthplace of the Christian faith, in whose streets occurred the defining events of Christian history and consciousness, the Christian story.”

He then launched a bitter attack against UNESCO, arguing that resolutions on the status of the city attempted to erase Jewish and Christian history.

“Today, Jerusalem is at the eye of a storm, under an unprecedented assault born from malice and ignorance that attempts to rewrite her history and erase her deep link to the millennia-old history of the Jewish people,” he charged.

“This assault is directed not only at Jerusalem’s Jewish roots, but also at the fundamental beliefs of the Christian faith,” Elkin — a former historian — went on.

“Anyone who attempts to erase from history the Jerusalem of King David and King Solomon, of the greatest of the prophets, Isaiah and Jeremiah, the Jerusalem of Ezra and Nehemia, and of the Maccabees, and the Jerusalem of the last days of the Second Temple that served as a central arena for the greatest events the shaped Christian consciousness – that same rewriter of history denies the Bible in its entirety.”

He went on: “Recent UNESCO resolutions are politically motivated attempts to portray the city as holy only to Islam and the Arab nation. History will view these decisions as low points in the annals of international institutions.”

Last week, Israel announced it would follow the United States in quitting UNESCO due to what it said was the Paris-based organization’s anti-Israel bias.

UNESCO has become “a platform for delusional, anti-Israeli and – in effect – anti-Semitic decisions,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday. “We hope that the organization will change its ways but we are not pinning hopes on this; therefore, my directive to leave the organization stands and we will move forward to carry it out.”


Amid jitters over far-right, Austria’s Kurz vows no anti-Semitism in coalition

Austria’s election winner Sebastian Kurz, who may form a coalition with the far right, vowed “zero tolerance” on anti-Semitism in any future government, in an interview published in Israel on Tuesday.

“The battle against anti-Semitism and our policy of zero tolerance against all anti-Semitic tendencies is very important to me,” Kurz told the right-wing Israel Hayom newspaper.

“It is a clear precondition for the formation of any coalition under my leadership,” the 31-year-old conservative told the paper, which is a firm backer of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Kurz’s People’s Party (OeVP) won 31.5 percent of the vote on Sunday, near-complete results show, and his most likely coalition partner is seen as the populist Freedom Party (FPOe), third at 26%.

Media reports said the two parties were already engaged in intensive behind-the-scene talks, with the FPOe demanding key ministerial positions.

When the FPOe last entered government, in 2000 under former head Joerg Haider, who praised Hitler’s “orderly” employment policies and praised SS veterans, Israel suspended relations.

They were normalized in 2003 under prime minister Ariel Sharon and the FPOe’s party head since 2005, Heinz-Christian Strache, has moved to soften its image and improve relations with the Jewish state.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry stressed at the time that it was a “strictly private visit” that included no official meetings.Strache, 48, has visited Israel several times, the last time in April 2016 when he met members of Netanyahu’s government and laid a wreath at the Holocaust memorial Yad Vashem.

Anti-Semitic influence?

Before the election Strache wrote to Netanyahu that Israel “possesses the right to build wherever is required in the Land of Israel” and that Austria’s embassy should be moved to Jerusalem.

Kurz said in the interview that “it is not the time to talk about such a sensitive question” as moving Austria’s representation to the disputed city from Tel Aviv.

The FPOe was created by ex-Nazis in the 1950s and campaigners say that incidents of anti-Semitism and racism by party officials continue.

Austria’s Jewish Community (IKG) organisation warned Kurz on Tuesday that a coalition with the FPOe could see people with “anti-Semitic, racist and eurosceptic beliefs” influence the government.

“The FPOe behaved itself during the election campaign. But what the FPOe says and what the FPOe does are two different things,” IKG chief Oskar Deutsch said.

Netanyahu congratulated Kurz in a telephone call on Monday night while calling for the fight against anti-Semitism to continue.

An Israeli official speaking on condition of anonymity said Tuesday it was “premature to take any position while the Austrian coalition is not yet formed.”

Kurz was due to meet on Tuesday afternoon Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen, who is expected to give Kurz a mandate later in the week to form a government.

More Israelis satisfied with their democracy than Americans, survey finds

Israelis are more satisfied with the way democracy is working in their country than are voters in the United States, and less supportive of the notion of military rule than the general public in the US, Britain and France, according to a major survey released Monday.

The Pew Research Center survey on global attitudes to government also found that in general barely half of those polled in 38 countries trust their governments to do the right thing, and that Israelis (51%) and Americans (also 51%) trust their elected officials a little more than the British (49%) and significantly more than the French (just 20%).

Data from 41,953 respondents revealed that most citizens are unhappy with their democratic governments. The survey was conducted from February 16 to May 8, 2017. Overall, “a deepening anxiety about the future of democracy around the world has spread over the past few years,” the report said.

In Israel, 52 percent said they are satisfied with the way democracy is working while 47% are not. In the US, less than half (46%) are satisfied and a majority of 51% said they are not. Britain’s figures matched those of Israel while across the Channel in France, 65% said they are not satisfied with their democracy and just 34% said they are.

Canadians were top with 70% satisfied and just 30% unhappy with their democracy. Figures for Western European countries showed on average citizens split half-half on their satisfaction with their systems.

“In all countries, pro-democracy attitudes coexist, to varying degrees, with openness to nondemocratic forms of governance, including rule by experts, a strong leader or the military,” the report said.

A quarter of Israelis back the idea of autocracy with power in the hands of a single ruler, similar to the UK (26%) but more than in the US where only 22% support the idea. In France, only 12% of those surveyed support autocracy.

However, in France, and the US, some 17% said military rule is a good idea, compared to 15% in the UK and just 10% in Israel.

More than half of Israelis (60%) are in favor of citizens voting directly on important national issues instead of leaving the decision in the hands of their democratically elected officials, Pew also found. Significantly more Arab Israelis (83%) support holding referendums than Jewish Israelis (54%) the report noted.

“People in wealthier nations and in those that have more fully democratic systems tend to be more committed to representative democracy. And in many nations, people with less education, those who are on the ideological right and those who are dissatisfied with the way democracy is currently working in their country are more willing to consider nondemocratic alternatives,” Pew said.

Faces of Holocaust victims projected on Prague synagogue

PRAGUE — Prague’s Jewish Museum has launched a new project to honor the victims of the Holocaust.

Starting on Monday, the faces of some Czech Jews who were killed by the Nazis during World War II are being projected on the outer wall of a Jewish bath at the Pinkas Synagogue after it gets dark.

The synagogue’s inside walls bear the names of almost 80,000 victims.

Jana Splichalova from the museum’s department of Shoah history says that “our goal was to give a name a face.”

Monday’s projection included the faces of 52 people screened repeatedly in a five-minute loop.

The museum has received thousands of photos and other personal belongings from the relatives and contemporaries and will gradually add more photo loops.

British neo-Nazi comes out as gay, Jewish


A British Neo-Nazi said he has decided to quit the far-right group he has long been a member of after coming out as gay and admitting to having Jewish roots.

Kevin Wilshaw, a member of the UK National Front, opened up about his Jewish heritage in an interview with British Channel 4 aired Tuesday, and acknowledged the paradox of being a gay and Jewish white supremacist.

The NF has for decades been a marginal party within the UK’s far-right, attracting neo-Nazis, fascists and other racists to its ranks.

According to Channel 4, Wilshaw was active within the movement, and spoke at a number of rallies. He later joined the BNP, another radical far-right party, and was active with it as well.

Despite having “Jewish blood” on his mother’s side, Wilshaw said he wrote about his hatred of Jews on his application to join the National Front.

“That term ‘the Jews’ is the global faceless mass of people you can’t personalize it, not individuals. That’s the generalization that leads to 6 million people being deliberately murdered,” he said in the interview.

Noting he himself had long gone after both Jews and gays, Wilshaw said he did not realize the problem with his actions until he himself was recently targeted when suspected of being gay.

“It’s a terribly selfish thing to say but it’s true: I saw people being abused, shouted at, spat at in the street. It’s not until it’s directed at you that you suddenly realize that what you’re doing is wrong,” he said.

Wilshaw said during his years as a neo-Nazi, he had used violence in self-defense, but never sought out members of minority groups to attack.

“I’d never do that, but I have seen incidents where people were singled out because they were black by a group of people. It turned my stomach, I rejected that, I pushed it to the back of my mind,” he said.

Wilshaw, who continued to participate in far-right circles until earlier this year, said he now feels “appallingly guilty” about his white supremacist past and wants “to do some damage” to his former comrades.

“I feel appallingly guilty as well, I really do feel guilty. Not only that, this is also a barrier to me having a relationship with my own family, and I want to get rid of it, it’s too much of a weight,” he said.

“I want to do some damage as well, not to ordinary people but the people who are propagating this kind of rubbish – want to hurt them, show what it’s like for those who are living a lie and be on the receiving end of this type of propaganda. I want to hurt them,” he added.

Having now repudiated the far-right ideology he long ascribed to, Wilshaw said: “I am going to find it difficult, granted, to fill a void that has occupied my life since childhood.”

Florida U, home to largest Jewish student body in US, braces for Richard Spencer (White Idiot, Zionist)

The University of Florida, home to the largest Jewish student body in the country, is bracing for an upcoming speech on campus by white supremacist leader Richard Spencer.

Only six weeks after Hurricane Irma wrought destruction in Florida, Governor Rick Scott declared another state of emergency, this time ahead of Spencer’s speech in Gainesville on Thursday afternoon.

The university allowed Spencer to speak after initially declining his request, saying that as a public institution it must uphold the principles of free speech. He was a promoter of the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August that turned deadly.

Although the speech is not sponsored by any groups affiliated with the university, the public university must pay over $500,000 in security for the event. In 1992, the Supreme Court ruled that the government cannot charge a speaker for security costs due to potential protesters.

“Our decision to disallow the September event was based on specific threats and a date that fell soon after the Charlottesville event,” the university said in a statement. “Allowing Spencer to speak in October provided additional time to make significant security arrangements.”

Spencer, the founder of a white supremacist think tank, has advocated a white ethno-state that would exclude non-whites and Jews. The Anti-Defamation League said he has become “more openly anti-Semitic in recent years.”

Some 9,400 Jewish students attend the university, which has an enrollment of 52,000.

The university’s Chabad director, Rabbi Berl Goldman, said that dozens of Jewish students, parents and staff members had contacted him with worries regarding the event.

“I just received a call 10 minutes ago from a parent worried about his daughter that lives in a sorority,” he told JTA on Monday. “Another parent called my colleague, Rabbi Aron [Notik], the other Chabad rabbi here at UF, telling him that his daughter wants to know if she should attend classes or not.”

Scott’s state of emergency order will allow local law enforcement officials to work with state and other agencies. The governor is also activating the Florida National Guard.Law enforcement has been in touch with Chabad, which Goldman said will have “a very strong, armed security presence” Wednesday through Friday in addition to its regular safety precautions.

The CEO of Hillel at the university, Rabbi Adam Grossman, declined a request for comment.

The University of Florida is Spencer’s latest stop on a speaking tour that has riled US campuses. In April, Auburn hosted the far-right speaker after a federal judge ordered it must. This month, Ohio State denied a speaking request by Spencer, while the University of Cincinnati approved it.

The Florida speech is his first campus appearance since the Charlottesville weekend, during which he led a a torch-lit march on the University of Virginia campus by neo-Nazis and other groups that at times chanted “Jews will not replace us.” Spencer was to be a featured speaker at the white-nationalist rally the next morning, but it was canceled due to security concerns. A woman was killed when a suspected white supremacist rammed his car into a crowed of counterprotesters.

Norman Goda, a professor of Holocaust studies, dismissed the university’s argument that it had to host Spencer due to free speech.

“I think it’s been posed as a free speech issue as if he is just another right-wing speaker,” said Goda, naming figures such as “alt-right” provocateur Milo Yiannopolous and conservative political commentator Ann Coulter. “I think Spencer is a very different animal. He is the leader of a movement who it seems to me from everything he says is working for the violent overthrow of our constitutional system.”

Goda says his students have also expressed discomfort at the speech.

“I’ve spoken to enough to know that they’re bothered by the fact that he’s going to show up on their campus,” he said. “There’s one kid who actually works in the Phillips Center — that’s the place where he’s speaking — who was quite anxious about the whole thing.”

Goda said he urged the university to deny Spencer’s right to speak and instead allow the case to play out in court.

Leah Gorshein, a 20-year-old political science and Jewish studies major, worries that the event could fuel a rise in campus anti-Semitism.“He wanted to use us to burnish his academic bona fides and to give himself legitimacy, and I didn’t think that the University of Florida should acquiesce on this without a fight,” the professor said. “I didn’t think that we should be party to our own debasement without a serious public debate about what kind of speech was really covered and whether this was legitimate speech or deliberately incendiary speech.”

“We do have a really strong Jewish and pro-Israel base, so I have a lot of confidence in our students, but I am worried for their safety, and the anti-Israel and anti-Jewish movement that could arise from this,” said Gorshein, who serves as president of the Israel advocacy group Gators for Israel and sits on the Hillel student board.

Gorshein’s professors canceled classes on Thursday, and though she personally feels safe, she plans to either stay in her sorority house or go out of town, she said.

Brett Hartstein, a finance major and vice president of programming for Chabad, said he isn’t worried about his personal safety. Still, he won’t be going to class on Thursday, saying “I’ll just be with other students and do my lectures online.”

“I feel like it will be hard to focus in class that day, people will be anxious about other stuff,” Hartstein, 20, told JTA. “I’ll be able to get more studying, be more focused on the lecture by just watching it on my laptop by myself.”

Chabad is encouraging members of the Jewish community to heed a call by the university’s president, Kent Fuchs, to stay away from the event and is hosting a “good deed marathon” to provide “an opportunity to transform the message of hate into love, and of darkness into light,” Goldman said.

Ministers put kibosh on peace talks after Fatah-Hamas unity deal

Israel’s top-level security cabinet on Tuesday said the government would no longer hold peace talks with the Palestinian Authority following the reconciliation agreement it reached with Hamas unless the terror group renounced terrorism and recognized the Jewish state.

In a statement, the security cabinet, made up of senior ministers, listed a number of conditions that must be met before Israel would resume peace negotiations with the Palestinians, including the dissolution of Hamas’s arsenal; the return of Israeli citizens and the bodies of IDF soldiers being held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip; the restoration of PA security control in Gaza, including at border crossings; continued action by the PA against Hamas’s “terror infrastructure” in the West Bank; and the end of Hamas’s ties with Iran.

The ministers said Hamas must forswear terrorism and recognize the Jewish state in accordance with the conditions of the Middle East Quartet, which comprises the United States, the United Nations, the European Union and Russia.

It also said any aid or humanitarian equipment destined for Gaza must pass through the PA and the systems in place meant to thwart smuggling to the terror group.

While the statement said Israel would no longer engage in peace talks until the conditions are met, it did not say Israel would cut ties with the PA or end security cooperation.

Jewish Home party head Naftali Bennett, a senior government minister, welcomed the cabinet decision, saying in a statement Israel would not engage in peace talks with Abbas over his “association with a terrorist organization.”

Bennett, who previously said he would demand Israel cut all ties with the PA over the deal, called the PA a “terrorist authority” in his statement, but did not reiterate his call for contacts with the PA to be ended.

While Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has stressed his opposition to the reconciliation deal and said it would make “peace much harder to achieve,” he told members of the security cabinet on Monday that Israel would not cut ties with the PA and that it was in Israel’s interest to support the deal to avert a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, according to the Haaretz daily.

The security cabinet’s decision on Tuesday came as a senior Hamas spokesman denied a report that the terror group agreed to halt attacks against Israel from the West Bank as part of the reconciliation deal.

“There are no secret clauses in the reconciliation understanding, and what the occupation published on the resistance halting in the West Bank is not true,” said senior Hamas spokesperson Husam Badran, in an interview with the Palestinian news site Quds Network.

“The position to choose resistance is not connected to any person or entity, but rather it is the position of the entire Palestinian people to decide. The natural situation is that when there is an occupation, there will be a resistance to confront it,” Badran added.

On Saturday, the Maariv daily reported that the deal struck between rival Hamas and Fatah on Thursday included a “secret clause” saying that Hamas, a terror group in control of the Gaza Strip, would cease carrying out attacks against Israelis from the West Bank.

On Sunday, London-based Pan-Arab daily As-Sharq al-Awsat also reported that there was an “implicit understanding” between Hamas and Fatah that the terror group would extend its current ceasefire with Israel from Gaza to the West Bank.

While Hamas has for years agreed to a ceasefire against Israel from the Gaza Strip, its West Bank operatives have continued to plan and provoke attacks against Israelis.

In remarks in Cairo immediately after the deal was signed last week, the chief Hamas negotiator, Saleh al-Arouri, said Hamas signed the agreement in order that all Palestinian forces can “work together against the Zionist enterprise.”

Israel advances 1,292 settlement homes, hundreds more planned

In its first of two meetings this week, the Defense Ministry body responsible for authorizing settlement construction in the West Bank advanced plans for 1,292 housing units across the West Bank Tuesday.

The Civil Administration’s High Planning Subcommittee also approved 296 homes to be marketed for sale in Beit El, thus fulfilling a promise that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made to the evacuees of the settlement’s illegal Ulpana outpost, which was razed in 2012.

Of the 1,292 units advanced Tuesday, 562 are located outside the so-called “settlement blocs” that Israel has vowed to retain under any future peace deal, with mutually agreed land swaps with the Palestinians. Among them were plans that gained final approval for settlements that lie deep in the West Bank, such as Nokdim (146 units) Rehelim (97 units). This in addition to projects in Tomer (55 units) and Maskiot (27 units) that are in the Jordan Valley.

In the Etzion bloc south of Jerusalem, 344 units were advanced for the Kfar Etzion settlement and 68 units were advanced in the Elazar settlement. In addition, plans were approved for Barkan (56 units), Nofim (170 units), Beit Aryeh (8 units) and Har Adar (10 units) — settlements that all lie west of the security barrier.

Responding to Tuesday’s approval’s the Peace Now settler watchdog said that the government has “gone wild” in approving plans “deep in the West Bank.”

The White House said the settlement building was not conducive to peace efforts.

“President Trump has publicly and privately expressed his concerns regarding settlements and the Administration has made clear that unrestrained settlement activity does not advance the prospect for peace. At the same time the Administration recognizes that past demands for a settlement freeze have not helped advance peace talks,” a spokesperson said.

Included in the 1,292 houses that were advanced by the Civil Administration were also 17 temporary homes for the residents of the illegal Netiv Ha’avot outpost, which is slated to be razed in March.

The homes will be located just outside the Alon Shvut settlement in the Gush Etzion bloc south of Jerusalem, but they will only be permitted to remain for three years.

Netiv Ha’avot residents slammed what the government referred to as a “temporary solution” for the 15 families set to lose their homes. In a Tuesday statement, the residents referred to the Civil Administration approval as “insufficient.”

“We call upon Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Education Minister Education Naftali Bennett, cabinet ministers and members of Knesset not to repeat the mistakes of the past in Migron, Amona, Ofra and Beit El and stop dragging their feet.”

Further criticizing the plan, Netiv Ha’avot resident Ami Gvirtzman told The Times of Israel that during meetings with the prime minister, Netanyahu had promised him that replacement homes for the ones slated for razing would still be built in the same neighborhood within the Elazar settlement. “What was approved today is completely contrary to what we were told.”

The High Planning Subcommittee will be convening again on Wednesday, and — barring bureaucratic issues with the plans brought before them — will advance plans for some 650 additional housing units.

Among those set for approval are plans are for evacuees of the illegally built outposts of Migron, and Amona, which were demolished in September 2012 and February 2017 respectively, after the High Court of Justice ruled they had been built on private Palestinian land.

After blasting Netanyahu over the past several months for what he referred to as “foot-dragging” regarding its approval of the expansion plan for his settlement, Beit El Mayor Shai Alon thanked the government in a Tuesday statement. “We hope that these 300 units are just the tip of the iceberg for more housing unit approvals. As they build in Rishon Letzion, Kfar Saba, and Ra’anana, so too we should build in Beit El, Ofra and Efrat,” he said.

On Monday, a separate Defense Ministry body — the Civil Administration’s Licensing Subcommittee — granted building permits building permits for 31 housing units for the Jewish settlement in Hebron.

This was first time in 15 years that Israeli construction has been approved in the flashpoint West Bank city and was seen as an Israeli response to the recent decision by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to list Hebron’s Old City as an endangered Palestinian world heritage site.

Nonetheless, Hebron’s Palestinian municipality is expected to petition against the decision in the coming weeks, claiming to have a protected tenancy status over the land in question.

Peace Now said the approvals in Hebron and Netiv Ha’avot were “particularly enraging.

“They indicate to settlers that the rule of law does not apply to them and illustrate the government’s deteriorating legal standards when it comes to settlement expansion,” the NGO said.

Despite reports of a surge in authorizations for up to 4,000 units, the exact number of housing units that the Civil Administration’s High Planning Subcommittee will be advancing on Tuesday and Wednesday will be 1,941 — with 1,196 of them up for final approval.

Settlers have expressed frustration over what they’ve perceived as an insufficient amount of housing units being green-lighted this week. Following the publishing of the agendas for the Civil Administration’s meetings this week  Samaria Regional Council chairman Yossi Dagan harshly criticized Netanyahu and his government. “We need to tell the truth. The emperor has no clothes,” Dagan said in a statement, characterizing Netanyahu as dishonest for breaking previous pledges to settler leaders to advance over 3,000 housing units.

“We are tired of thanking (this government) for every bone that it throws at us, Dagan said. “The prime minister is missing a historic opportunity that won’t likely recur. There is currently a US president who, even if he does not agree (with settlement building), will not condemn it to the extent that was done during the Obama era.”

Scolding UNESCO, GOP lawmakers (Freemasons) introduce resolution on Jewish ties to Jerusalem

WASHINGTON — After the Trump administration withdrew the United States from UNESCO over what it called its “anti-Israel bias,” two GOP lawmakers introduced a resolution that condemns the UN cultural organization and affirms Jewish ties to Jerusalem.

The UN body has, in recent years, passed a series of its own resolutions denying a Jewish link to the holy city.

On Israel’s Independence Day this year, the UN cultural agency passed a motion that many Israelis saw as denying Jewish historical or religious ties to Jerusalem. Such measures were cited as one reason the US decided to pull out of the agency last week.

On Friday, Sen. Ted Cruz, a Republican from Texas, and Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Republican from Florida, followed up on the move by authoring a resolution that “recognizes and affirms the historical connection of the Jewish people to the ancient and sacred city of Jerusalem.”

It goes on to cite archaeologically excavated sites, like the City of David, that contain vast quantities of antiquities from the ancient Jewish and Christian presence in the city.

“The Jewish people, and the people of Israel, have a deep and ancient connection to the holy city of Jerusalem,” Rep. Gaetz said. “Yet the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization … is actively trying to rewrite history.”

The resolution’s text condemns UNESCO for what it characterizes as its attempts to delegitimize the Jewish state. It also calls on the US to partner with its allies in preventing the group from passing similar measures in the future.

“The Trump administration has demonstrated strong moral clarity in deciding to withdraw and continuing to withhold US taxpayer dollars from UNESCO as a result of its relentless hostility towards our close ally Israel,” Cruz said.

After the US decision to exit UNESCO was announced last Thursday, the US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, warned the entire world body that other agencies risked the same treatment if they did not reform.

“The United States will continue to evaluate all agencies within the United Nations system through the same lens,” she said.

The US withdrawal from UNESCO won’t take effect until December 31, 2018.

On Friday, UNESCO elected former French culture minister Audrey Azoulay, who is Jewish, as its new head. Azoulay immediately urged the US and Israel not to quit the organization.

Overcoming opposition, Israel elected to UN space committee

Overcoming opposition from Palestinian diplomats and several Arab states, an Israeli representative was elected by the UN General Assembly Tuesday to sit on the international body’s “Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space” (COPUOS).

Keren Shahar, the Director of the Treaties Department in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will serve as Israel’s representative on the bureau, making the Jewish State one of the six countries to head up the 84-member organization.

In addition to Israel, Brazil, Mexico, Poland, South Africa and Indonesia were also elected Tuesday to the COPUOS bureau. Israel first joined the space organization in 2015.

COPUOS is charged by the UN with “governing the exploration and use of space for the benefit of all humanity, reviewing international cooperation in peaceful uses of outer space, encouraging space research, and studying legal problems arising from the exploration of outer space,” according the organization’s charter.

According to Israel’s mission to the UN “adversaries led efforts to thwart the representative’s election despite the fact that she had been selected by the Western European and Others (WEOG) regional group as their candidate for the position.”

Israel’s ambassador to the UN Danny Danon welcomed decision.

“We have proven once again that Israel can succeed in all roles as we spearhead positive new initiatives as an equal partner in the UN. We will continue to stand strong against attempts to harm Israel in the international arena,” he said.

In June 2016, Israel was elected for the first time ever to head a permanent committee at the UN General Assembly, despite intense efforts by Arab and Muslim states to stop the nomination.