António Guterres, the ninth Secretary-General of the United Nations, formerly the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), told Israel Radio on Sunday that it is clear the Jerusalem temple destroyed by the Romans was Jewish. This only a few months following a shameful statement by UNESCO that ignored any connection between the Jewish people and Jerusalem.
Guterres served as Prime Minister of Portugal from 1995 to 2002, and was the Secretary-General of the Socialist Party from 1992 to 2002. He also served as President of Socialist International from 1999 to 2005. In 2012, Guterres appointed American actress Angelina Jolie as his Special Envoy to represent UNHCR and himself at the diplomatic level.
Speaking to Israel radio in New York, Secretary-General Guterres said no one today can deny that Jerusalem is sacred to the world’s three monotheistic religions.
The new UN Secretary-General also said he was not planning to initiate a political move between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, even though he does believe in a two-state solution and will help the two sides should they request it. He also stressed that he intends to insist on an equal treatment of all the UN member states.
During the UN General Assembly’s special session in honor of International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust Friday, Guterres said the world has a duty to remember that the Holocaust was a systematic attempt to eliminate the Jewish people and so many others, noting that building a future of dignity and equality for all will honor the victims of this “incomparable tragedy in human history […] who we will never allow to be forgotten.”
Guterres said in video message that it would be a dangerous error to think of the Holocaust as simply the result of the insanity of a group of criminal Nazis.
“On the contrary, the Holocaust was the culmination of millennia of hatred, scapegoating and discrimination targeting the Jews, what we now call anti-Semitism,” he emphasized, adding that tragically and contrary to the international community’s resolve, anti-Semitism continues to thrive.
Moreover, the world is also witnessing a “deeply troubling” rise in extremism, xenophobia, racism and anti-Muslim hatred. “Irrationality and intolerance are back,” said the new UN chief.
Stressing that this is in complete contrast to the universal values enshrined in the UN Charter and Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Guterres said: “We can never remain silent or indifferent when human beings are suffering. We must always defend the vulnerable and bring tormentors to justice. And as the theme of this year’s observance highlights, a better future depends on education.”
“After the horrors of the 20th century, there should be no room for intolerance in the 21st. I guarantee you that as Secretary-General of the United Nations, I will be in the frontline of the battle against anti-Semitism and all other forms of hatred,” Guterres said.