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Sunday, January 19, 2014

US and Canada urge UNESCO not to postpone exhibit

Last week, I reported that UNESCO announced that it was 'postponing' an exhibit that shows the Jewish people's 3,500 year connection to the Land of Israel out of deference to the 'peace process.' The postponement caused consternation in Israel and at Los Angeles' Simon Wiesenthal Center, which is co-sponsoring the exhibit. Now, the United States and Canada are urging UNESCO to reconsider.
The United States and Canada called on UNESCO to rescind its sudden decision to suspend an exhibit on Jewish ties to the Land of Israel – due to open at its Paris headquarters on Monday – in response to a protest by Arab states who fear it could damage the peace process.

“UNESCO’s decision is wrong and should be reversed,” said US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power on Friday. “The United States has engaged at senior levels to urge UNESCO to allow this exhibit to proceed as soon as possible.”


”UNESCO is supposed to be fostering discussion and interaction between civil society and member states, and organizations such as the Wiesenthal Center have a right to be heard and to contribute to UNESCO’s mission,” said Power.

In spite of her harsh rebuke, the US had opted not to sponsor the exhibit, which bore the sponsorship seal of only three countries, Canada, Israel and Montenegro.

Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs said on Friday there “is no appropriate rationale to delay the exhibition and [we are] deeply disappointed by the decision made to postpone it. Our ambassador to UNESCO has written to the secretary-general of that organization urging her to take all necessary action for this exhibition to go ahead as long planned,” it said. Should UNESCO fail to open the exhibit as agreed upon, the Wiesenthal Center plans to hold a press conferences in Paris and Los Angeles on Monday to show its panels to the public.

Wiesenthal dean and founder Rabbi Marvin Hier said all the exhibit panels had been vetted and approved by UNESCO.

World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder said: “It is sad that Arabs deny the 3,500- year connection of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel, especially when that connection is part of their own tradition.

With this decision, UNESCO has done a disservice to the peace process and implicitly endorsed Arab rejectionism.
This exhibit will only happen if the US says it's going to cut UNESCO's funding again. With the Obama administration in power, I would not expect that to happen.

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