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January 17, 2014 2:56 pm

World Jewish Congress: UNESCO Cancellation of Jewish Exhibit ‘Endorsed Arab Rejectionism’

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Irina Bokova with Rabbi Marvin Heir in Los Angles upon agreeing to organize the exhibit.

International Jewish human rights group, the World Jewish Congress (WJC), lambasted UNESCO, the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization, after the UN body pulled a Jewish exhibit days before it was set to open, after a protest from Arab countries.

Denouncing the move, WJC President Ronald S. Lauder said, “With this decision, UNESCO has done a disservice to the peace process and implicitly endorsed Arab rejectionism. “

“This cancellation of a long-planned exhibit is an outrageous political manipulation of a cultural event. It is sad that Arabs deny the 3,500 connection of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel, especially when that connection is part of their own tradition,” he said.

The exhibit, entitled “People, Book, Land – The 3,500 Year Relationship of the Jewish People and the Land of Israel,” was called off by Irina Bokova, president of UNESCO, after the 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.

WJC Vice-President Roger Cukierman, the head of the French Jewish umbrella body CRIF, wrote a letter to Bokova strongly protesting the cancellation. “I deduct from that decision that UNESCO is no longer the common house of all nations on matters of education, culture and science, but has come under the influence of clans whose aim it is to propagate hatred towards the other,” Cukierman stated, challenging Bokova to name the real reasons behind the cancellation.

The exhibit was financed and created by the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC) together with UNESCO, and was scheduled to open on January 20th, 2014, at UNESCO’s Paris headquarters.

The SWC plans to protest the move on Monday in Paris. “We will show the media the exhibition UNESCO didn’t want the world to see,” the group said. Attendees at the protest will include Lord Carey of Clifton, Archbishop of Canterbury emeritus.

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