UNESCO Cancels Israel Exhibit

The Simon Wiesenthal Center has been working with UNESCO since 2011 on an exhibit titled “The People, the Book, the Land — 3,500 years of ties between the Jewish people and the Land of Israel.” The exhibit was scheduled to open in Paris on Tuesday, but it was canceled last week by UNESCO’s Director General Irina Bokova. Why? Arab members of UNESCO wrote a letter claiming that the exhibit would impair the “peace process.”

[T]he President of the Arab group within UNESCO expressed “deep worry and great disapproval” over the program showing the age old connection between Israel and the Jewish people.

“The subject of this exhibition is highly political though the appearance of the title seems to be trivial. Most serious is the defense of this theme which is one of the reasons used by the opponents of peace within Israel,” he wrote.

“The publicity that will accompany…the exhibit can only cause damage to the peace negotiations presently occurring, and the constant effort of (U.S.) Secretary of State John Kerry, and the neutrality and objectivity of UNESCO.”

“For all these reasons, for the major worry not to damage UNESCO in its…mission of support for peace, the Arab group within UNESCO is asking you to make the decision to cancel this exhibition,” the letter said.

UNESCO readily complied.

UNESCO's Director General Irina Bokova and Simon Wiesenthal Center's Rabbi Marvin Hier

UNESCO’s Director General Irina Bokova and Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Rabbi Marvin Hier

It should be noted that the UNESCO exhibit had been co-sponsored by Israel, Canada and Montenegro (!). The U.S. State Department protested UNESCO’s cancellation of the exhibit, but when invited to co-sponsor the program, the U.S. had declined, asserting grounds indistinguishable from those now advanced by the Arab states.

It is obviously true that the relationship between the Jewish people and Israel extends for 3,500 years, back to the era of Moses. Despite the many vicissitudes of history, Jews have continuously occupied Israel ever since. As a matter of history this is indisputable, but Arabs who want to destroy Israel and exterminate its Jewish citizens make the insane claim that Jews have arrived in the Holy Land only recently. It is this lunatic falsehood to which the United Nations has bowed, with a helping hand from the Obama administration.

There is no reason to expect anything more from the U.N., which ceased being a force for good long ago. Still, when the U.N. tries to erase thousands of years of history with an assist from the U.S. State Department, it can’t help being a bit disheartening.

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