UNESCO Pulls Jewish Exhibit in Paris After Arab League Protest

Friday, 17 Jan 2014 03:40 PM

By Courtney Coren

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UNESCO, the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization, has canceled a Jewish exhibit in Paris that it has been working on for two years after a recent protest from the Arab League.

"People, Book, Land — The 3,500 Year Relationship of the Jewish People and the Land of Israel," was scheduled to open Jan. 20 at UNESCO's Paris headquarters. It was a corroborative effort of the the UN organization and the Simon Wiesenthal Center, based in Los Angeles, The Algemeiner reported.

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The Jewish organization was informed that the exhibit was canceled on Jan. 14 in a letter citing the Arab League, which claimed that the exhibit "could create potential obstacles related to the peace process in the Middle East."

Abdulla al Neaimi, President of the Arab group in UNESCO, sent a letter to Irina Bokova, president of UNESCO, saying that there was "deep worry and great disapproval" about the exhibit because it showed that Israel and the Jewish people have an ancient connection.

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

"The publicity that will accompany . . . the exhibit can only cause damage to the peace negotiations presently occurring, and the constant effort of Secretary of State John Kerry and the neutrality and objectively of UNESCO," the Arab group added. "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."

Rabbi Marvin Hier of the Simon Wiesenthal Center called the cancelation an "absolute outrage."

"The Arabs don't want the world to know that the Jews have a 3,500-year relationship to the Land of Israel," Hier said.

In its formal response to UNESCO, the Simon Wiesenthal Center said, "we insist you live up to your responsibilities and commitments as the co-organizer of this exhibition by overturning this naked political move that has no place in an institution whose mandate is defined by education, science, and culture — not politics."

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