AJC Urges UNESCO to Restore Israel Exhibit

Jan 19, 2014, 21:14 ET from American Jewish Committee

NEW YORK, Jan. 19, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- AJC praised the U.S. and Canadian governments for their rigorous objections to UNESCO's decision to postpone indefinitely an exhibit on the Jewish people and Israel.

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The exhibit, "People, Book, Land -- The 3,500 Year Relationship of the Jewish People to the Holy Land," was slated to open at UNESCO headquarters in Paris on January 20. But the exhibit's co-sponsor, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, was informed just before the weekend that it would not open as planned due to protests by Arab countries, asserting that it could harm the peace process.

"UNESCO's abrupt reversal on hosting an important exhibit about Israel is outrageous," said AJC Executive Director David Harris. "We agree with U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power's declaration that 'UNESCO's decision is wrong and should be reversed.' Indeed, UNESCO should reinstate the exhibit immediately."

"Arab claims that the exhibit will 'harm the peace process' are disingenuous," Harris continued. "Whether the Arab world at long last recognizes the age-old connection between the land and the people is precisely the heart of the peace process."

Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs said there "is no appropriate rationale to delay the exhibition and [we are] deeply disappointed by the decision made to postpone it."

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu said the UNESCO exhibit "would not harm the negotiations. Negotiations are based on facts, on the truth, which is never harmful."

SOURCE American Jewish Committee