French Jewish groups rallying to protest state’s silence on UNESCO Jerusalem votes
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French Jewish groups rallying to protest state’s silence on UNESCO Jerusalem votes

(JTA) — The main Jewish groups in France urged members to rally in front of the headquarters of the country’s Foreign Ministry to protest its failure to oppose U.N. resolutions that ignore Jewish ties to Jerusalem.

CRIF, the political lobby group representing French Jewish communities, in a rare move was joined by the Consistoire, French Jewry’s organ responsible for religious services, in organizing a protest rally for Thursday opposite the Quai d’Orsay in Paris in reaction to the passing of two resolutions on Jerusalem this month by UNESCO committees.

France was among 26 countries that abstained from voting during the first resolution, which the Palestinians initiated and was passed on Oct. 13 by the executive board of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. It refers to the Western Wall and the Temple Mount only by their Arabic-language names. Similar language was passed Wednesday by the World Heritage Committee.

In May, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls apologized for his country’s support for an earlier resolution passed by UNESCO in April that also was seen as erasing Jewish ties to Jerusalem.

“We were shocked by the anti-Israeli obsession of UNESCO and are now revolted by its disavowal of its own values,” CRIF President Francis Kalifat wrote Wednesday in his call for French Jews to rally outside Quai d’Orsay. Hundreds are expected to convene there for the protest.

“This indignation is compounded by a profound disappointment in France’s choice to abstain during the executive board vote,” he added.

Noting that the street protest was not initiated by CRIF, Kalifat wrote: “Other groups decided to take this indignation to the street and I salute their initiative.” He also called on “all of CRIF’s member groups to join [the protesters] to make audible a loud voice, faithful to historical veracity.”

The Consistoire, which usually does not get involved in debates of a partisan nature or about foreign policy issues, was more laconic in its call to rally.

“Following the vote on Jerusalem by UNESCO, a demonstration of protest opposite the Quai d’Orsay,” read the email the Consistoire sent Wednesday to its mailing list.