THE NEW JERSEY General Assembly on June 21 voted unanimously — 77-zero — to approve a resolution affirming the historical, religious, and cultural connection of the Jewish people to Jerusalem and condemning efforts by UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, to deny those ties.
The resolution, AR160, which secured bipartisan support, was introduced by Assembly Members Anthony Bucco, Jr. (R-Dist. 25), Jamel Holley (D-Dist. 20), and Gary Schaer (D-Dist. 36), who were among the 10 members of the State Senate and Assembly who participated in the 2018 NJ Legislators’ Study Mission to Israel in March, sponsored by the NJ State Association of Jewish Federations.
Guided by Ze’ev Orenstein, director of international affairs for the City of David Foundation, the legislators visited the excavated City of David, the traditional site of biblical Jerusalem, located outside the walls of Jerusalem’s Old City.
Mission members were “so moved by the historic significance of walking the ritual pathway to the Temple Mount that they were inspired to take official legislative action upon returning to New Jersey in support of the Jewish connection to Jerusalem,” said State Association president Gordon Haas, who was also chair of and participant in the trip.
“The Jewish connection to Jerusalem is undeniable,” said Bucco. “I saw this firsthand…in March. It’s there that the Temple Mount and Western Wall, long revered as their holiest site, is located.
“This attempt by the UN to erase Jewish historical and religious ties to Jerusalem is appalling and helps fuel anti-Semitism around the world.”
UNESCO has adopted a series of resolutions asserting that Jerusalem is of significance primarily to Islam and that the Temple Mount and the Western Wall are exclusively Islamic holy sites. The story of Jerusalem, said Orenstein, “is being recast, completely denying the historic connection of the Jewish people to Israel in general and to Jerusalem in particular.”
But, said Holley, “the opportunity to visit the City of David and walk the same pathway as pilgrims did in biblical times…was proof and motivation enough to sponsor AR160.”
AR160 calls upon all members of New Jersey’s congressional delegation to endorse S. Res 291/ H. Res. 590, federal resolutions with the same theme. The Senate and House resolutions remain to be posted for committee hearings.