(JTA) — The president of the World Jewish Congress praised Russia for protecting its Jewish community against anti-Semitism but also slammed the country for voting in favor of a UNESCO resolution that ignored Jewish ties to Jerusalem holy sites.
Ronald Lauder made his remarks at the first Moscow International Conference on Combating Anti-Semitism, which was organized by the Russian Jewish Congress under the auspices of Moscow’s mayor.
Lauding President Vladimir Putin, Lauder said he “has made Russia a country where Jews are welcome. And that’s not just a good thing for Jews. It is good for Russia as well.”
But Lauder also blasted Russia’s vote last month in favor of the U.N. cultural body’s resolution that ignored Jewish connections to sites in Jerusalem’s Old City. The text passed by the board of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization referred to the Temple Mount and other Jewish holy sites only by their Islamic names, ignoring their Jewish history.
“I was even more surprised, and frankly disappointed, that Russia supported this resolution, a resolution that helps no one. That’s like trying to deny any Russian connection to St. Basil’s. That’s ridiculous,” Lauder said, referring to a Moscow landmark cathedral.
He added: “As our world becomes more complex and more dangerous, we hope that we will always be able to count on Russia.”