We have become so used to the blatant anti-Israel bias at the United Nations that we hardly bat an eyelid any more when yet another anti-Israel resolution is passed, whether overtly critical of Israel or whether disguised as “pro-Palestinian”. Yet the UN surpassed itself once again this week with a blatant caving in to Arab pressure.
Just mere days before it was about to take place, Arab League pressure persuaded UNESCO to cancel an event displaying the Jewish ties to the Land of Israel throughout history:
The exhibit, created by the Simon Wiesenthal Center, was co-sponsored by Israel, Canada, and Montenegro. SWC worked closely with UNESCO on the exhibit since 2011, when UNESCO accepted Palestine as a member state, the first UN body to do so.
UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova decided to cancel the event after Arab states in UNESCO protested, arguing it would harm the peace process. “We have a responsibility in ensuring that current efforts in this regard are not endangered,” Bokova wrote in a letter to the Wiesenthal Center.
The peace process is “at a delicate stage,” UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General Eric Fait wrote to the Wiesenthal Center on Tuesday, in a letter made available to The Times of Israel, “and UNESCO is keen to maintain an atmosphere conducive to the negotiations.” Therefore, wrote Fait, “we will have to postpone the exhibition to a later date.”
The event was scheduled to run from January 21 through January 30 at UNESCO’s Paris headquarters. It has been repeatedly delayed for the past two years, with organizers repeatedly bowing to UNESCO demands to make changes in the displays and literature at the event.
The Wiesenthal Center is slated to hold a press conference on Monday to discuss the cancellation.
Rabbi Marvin Hier, the Wiesenthal Center’s dean and founder, responded to Bokova in a letter expressing shock and dismay that the exhibition was being pulled. “We insist that 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,” Hier wrote in his letter, which was also made available to The Times of Israel. “Failure to do so would confirm to the world that UNESCO is the official address of the Arab narrative of the Middle East.”
Hier added, “Madame Director General, we have now reached a crucial moment in which you must decide what UNESCO is all about. If you allow the bullying of the Arab Group to derail the presentation of our historical, cultural, and non-political exhibition, then UNESCO will be sending an unmistakable signal to the American people and its elected representatives and to the Canadian people and its elected representatives that it has defaulted on its historic mandate and is now allowing itself to be hijacked by those with a vindictive political motivation.”
Nimrod Barkan, Israel’s ambassador to UNESCO, said that the excuse to shelve the event was “mean and stupid,” according to Israel Radio.
Here is the “reasoning” that the Arabs used to persuade UNESCO:
Abdulla al Neaimi, president of UNESCO’s Arab group, wrote in a letter to Bokova that 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. 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 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,” he concluded, according to Algemeiner.
No one from the Arab League or UNESCO has satisfactorily explained how or why such an exhibit, which is supposed to educate about historical facts, should harm the peace process or UNESCO. In fact, as we all know very well, it is the very denial by the Arabs of the Jewish link to the Land of Israel which is at the root of the entire Middle East conflict. They cannot bring themselves to admit to this Jewish link for it will undermine their entire cause, and in this denial of Jewish history they are aided and abetted by a compliant international community.
By now we are not surprised by any of these hypocritically weaselly moves by the Arabs, but it is a disgrace that a “respected” international institution such as UNESCO should connive at, and then cave in to such outrageous pressure.
On the other hand, UNESCO is not such a respectable institution after all, as UN Watch notes:
If the notorious UN Human Rights Council dedicates a full 50 percent of its resolutions to demonizing the Jewish state, at UNESCO the numbers are 100 percent.That’s right: all of UNESCO’s condemnatory resolutions are against Israel.First, consider the facts:
Astonishingly, during this same time period, an examination of all UNESCO decisions and resolutions — just click on the links above — shows that not a single other country was censured even once.
Why Israel allows UNESCO even the slightest foothold in the country is a mystery to me given this incredible antipathy and bias.
Compounding the outrage at the cancelled Jewish exhibit, it was revealed that the US State Department did not object at first to UNESCO’s cancellation of the exhibit. Even though they later corrected their diplomatic “error”, Liberty’s Spirit reports that:
However, the US State Department did not support the exhibit from the outset as a sponsor even though requested they do so.
Read the rest of Liberty Spirit’s article on the miserable behaviour of the State Department towards Israel. None of it is a surprise but seeing that list of so many recent events is terribly depressing.
Adding insult to injury, the United Nations announced the launching of 2014 as a Year of Solidarity with the Palestinians:
Ron Prosor, Israel’s envoy to the United Nations condemned on Thursday the UN over its declaration of its International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian people.
“The UN is used as a tool in the service of Palestinian propaganda. Instead of trying to end the campaign of Palestinian incitement against Israel, the UN provides a stage for Palestinian productions for the media,” Prosor said.
“While the Palestinians seek UN solidarity, they continue to educate an entire generation to hate Israel and deny the connection between the Jewish people to their homeland,” he added. “It’s time to stop the hypocrisy and ask, where is solidarity with the victims of terrorism in Israel and their families?”
Earlier Thursday, UN Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon launched the beginning of the International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinians.
“This will be a critical year for achieving the two-state solution, bringing an end to the occupation that started in 1967, and securing an independent, viable and sovereign State of Palestine living in peace and security with the State of Israel where each recognizes the other’s legitimate rights,” Ban said in a statement.
On November 26, the UN General Assembly passed Resolution A/68/12 that calls on the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (UNISPAL) to “organize activities to be held during the year.” In the same week, the General Assembly passed six resolutions concerning Israel and marked the one-year anniversary of the recognition of “Palestine” as a non-member observer state.
I actually see a silver lining to this absurd cloud. The UN has declared only one year in solidarity with the Palestinians? I thought it was a built-in feature, made to last forever.
One year? I think we can live with that. I wonder what will happen when the Year of Solidarity with the Palestinians draws to a close. Do you reckon it will be time for a Year of Solidarity with Israel? Answers on a postage stamp please.