ZOA Calls Upon Obama Admin. & Congress to Maintain Cut of U.S. Funds to UNESCO
March 30, 2012

Christian groups must speak out


ZOA Calls Upon Obama Admin. & Congress to Maintain Cut of U.S. Funds to UNESCO
if it Registers Church of Nativity as Palestinian Site


NEW YORK, March 30, 2012 — The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has called upon the Obama Administration and the Congress to maintain a complete cut-off of U.S. funds to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) if it registers Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity, one of Christianity’s most important sites, as a Palestinian site. The ZOA has also called upon Christian groups to oppose this proposed listing.


Mahmoud Abbas’ Palestinian Authority (PA) has asked UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee, which will convene in St Petersburg in June, to register some 20 sites under the name of ‘Palestine,’ a state that does not exist. These sites include the old town of Nablus; Qumran, where the Dead Sea scrolls were found; as well as the Church of the Nativity. Palestine is not an accepted member state of the UN. But, since a UN body, UNESCO, accepted the PA as the 195th member state of the organization last October, it became possible for the PA to apply to register sites under the name of ‘Palestine.’ Since the deadline to be placed on the World Heritage Committee’s June agenda has passed, the PA has asked for an emergency exception (Tovah Lazaroff, ‘PA: Register Church of Nativity under “Palestine,”Jerusalem Post, March 8, 2012).


ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “It is absurd and outrageous that a non-state like the PA can seek to register a site as belonging to ‘Palestine.’ Peace negotiations between Israel and the PA have never been concluded – the only basis on which the PA could legitimately seek statehood. In fact, the PA has refused almost throughout the term of the Obama Administration to negotiate at all, nor has it made concessions or even fulfilled its 18-year old signed commitments under Oslo to arrest terrorists, outlaw terrorist groups and end incitement to hatred and murder against Israel. 


“To the contrary, Abbas has obscenely just visited in Turkey a freed Palestinian terrorist, Amna Muna, who via Internet contact lured a 16-year-old Israel, Ophir Rahum, to a cold-blooded, chilling murder in January 2001, which included Rahum’s being shot by her accomplices, including sadistically in the knee caps, while she taunted the dying teenager.


“We must also never forget that, in 2002, PA terrorists, including several affiliated with Fatah, which rules the PA, violated the sanctity of the Church by holing up in it when cornered by Israeli forces. During their hijacking of the Church, they desecrated holy books, urinated in the sanctuary and smashed up priceless furniture and artwork.


“Do Christians throughout the world really want the Church of the Nativity to be registered as a site under the aegis of a terrorist-sponsoring PA regime that has seen its Christian population drop through harassment, intimidation and violence to a fraction of its number in less than two decades? 


“Bethlehem, in which the Church is located, was once a Christian majority city. Its current Christian population has dwindled to just 10%. And in Hamas-controlled Gaza, matters are even worse, most Christians already having fled since Hamas seized control of the territory in 2007. Christians in Gaza have been killed and had their churches and houses burned down.


“We also see now the practical dangers of UNESCO having admitted the PA last year as a member-state. U.S. funding to UNESCO was cut off in accordance with U.S. law and should remain that way. 


“We call upon the Obama Administration and the Congress to ensure that U.S. funding to UNESCO is not resumed, especially if the World Heritage Committee approves the Church of the Nativity as a Palestinian site. We also call upon Christian groups to protest this proposed PA listing.”

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