A Call To Stop Desecration Of Holy Sites

UNITED NATIONS,May 31 – With the ransacked mosques and churches of the Balkans and the ruins of the giant Buddhas of Afghanistan still fresh in its memory, the General Assembly voted today to condemn all attacks on religious sites.

It also called on government and international organizations to take responsibility for the protection of religious and cultural treasures.

The resolution, sponsored by 115 nations and adopted by consensus, carries no force of law. But except for a brief and bitter between Palestinian and Israeli delegates the measure passed with uncommonly wide support and no protest. It is the first concrete result of a yearlong “dialogue among civilizations” under way here.

The resolution was first proposed by the ecumenical foundation after nearly a decade of work for religious reconciliation in the Balkans Austria and Hungary formally introduced in the Assembly and campaigned for its adoption.

“As we sat in the General Assembly as this resolution was adopted,” said Rabbi Arther Schneier, a Holocaust survivor who is president of the Appeal of Conscience Foundation in New York, “I said to myself, ‘I wonder, had there been this kind of resolution in 1938, maybe my synagogue would still be standing today.”

Rabbi Schneier of the Park East Synagogue in Manhattan spoke after the vote at a news conference with other foundation leaders.