Nineteen Jewish-American legislators issued a bipartisan condemnation of the recent vote in UNESCO blaming Israel for the recent surge of terrorist attacks, and classifying two Jewish holy sites as "Islamic."
"The resolution adopted by the UNESCO Executive Board condemning Israel for the recent surge in violence can serve no purpose other than to escalate tensions, exacerbate religious conflict, and further incite violence," the members of Congress said in a joint letter.
"This resolution, submitted by the six Arab member countries of UNESCO on behalf of the Palestinian Authority, is offensive and incendiary.
"We commend the Administration for opposing the resolution, and for demonstrating once again the need for the U.S. to maintain a strong presence in international institutions."
The Congress members also slammed "the continued false allegations against Israel as having violated the status quo at the Temple Mount, which is under the custodianship of Jordan and the Wakf Muslim religious trust, and blaming Israel for the surge in violent attacks," and called for wide international condemnation.
"Such accusations have been perpetrated by the Palestinian leadership to incite continued violence, and the resulting attacks targeting Israeli civilians in recent weeks are an outrage. There is zero justification for such acts of terrorism, and the world cannot remain silent and certainly must not take actions that could add to the false and inflammatory incitement of violence."
The letter also addressed an arguably even more controversial aspect of the resolution adopted by UNESCO: the labeling of Rachel's Tomb and the Cave of the Patriarchs – two holy Jewish sites located in Bethlehem and Hevron respectively – as "Muslim sites."
"As Jewish Members of the United States House of Representatives, we believe strongly in respecting the religious history and protecting the religious freedoms of Muslims, Jews, and Christians. That means respecting the claims of both Jews and Muslims to holy sites which have significance for both religions," they said.
"Designating Rachel’s Tomb and the Tomb of the Patriarchs as exclusively Muslim sites is dismissive of other religious traditions, and the continued refusal to show any respect or recognition for the legitimacy of Jewish existence in the ancient Jewish homeland once again demonstrates a central obstacle to peace between Israelis and Palestinians."
The letters signatories were U.S. Representatives Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Sandy Levin (D-MI), Eliot Engel (D-NY), Nita Lowey (D-NY), Brad Sherman (D-CA), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Susan Davis (D-CA), Steve Israel (D-NY), Adam Schiff (D-CA), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), Steve Cohen (D-TN), John Yarmuth (D-KY), Ted Deutch (D-FL), Jared Polis (D-CO), David Cicilline (D-RI), Alan Grayson (D-FL), Lois Frankel (D-FL), Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), and Lee Zeldin (R-NY).