A group of Republican senators sent a letter to President Barack Obama on Wednesday urging him to suspend the US’s diplomatic ties with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in light of its recent adoption of resolutions denying Judaism’s connection to Jerusalem.
“Because UNESCO continues to deviate from its founding mission and adopt one-sided, anti-Israel resolutions, it is time for the U.S. to stand with Israel and suspend our ties with UNESCO,” declared the letter, signed by Republican Senators Marco Rubio, Johnny Isakson, Mark Kirk and David Perdu.
The lawmakers said that UNESCO’s decisions render the organization “counterproductive” and went so far as to suggest the U.S. give up its member state status to the UN body, one of whose main purposes is “securing world cultural and national heritage” – a mission quite clearly mangled by inherent anti-Israel bias and Arab agendas at the UN.
“Recent UNESCO resolutions that deny Jewish and Christian ties to holy sites in Jerusalem not only reinforces the necessity of withholding American funding from this counterproductive UN organization, but also call into question future U.S. membership in UNESCO,” read the letter.
“Given that U.S. law already forbids American taxpayer money going to UNESCO, we urge your administration to join Israel in suspending ties to UNESCO.”
Israel cut its ties to the United Nations body earlier in the month after UNESCO passed a resolution which renamed the Temple Mount “Al-Aqṣa Mosque/Al-Ḥaram Al-Sharif” and essentially denied 3,000 years of Jewish history in Jerusalem by claiming that the city is of spiritual significance to Muslims only. It also referred to Israel as an “occupier”.
A second UNESCO resolution, with much the same message, was passed by the World Heritage Committee on Wednesday, precipitating the letter of protest.
The lawmakers offered a precedent for cutting ties, pointing out that the U.S. had done so in 1984 over “disparities between American foreign policy goals and UNESCO’s agenda”.
At that time, the U.S., followed by England, withdrew from UNESCO in protest over suspicions that the organization was being used as a platform for communism and anti-Western values.
The United States did not rejoin UNESCO until 2003.