January 19, 2014
Ms. Irina Bokova
Dear Madam Director General,
I am writing to ask that you reconsider the decision to postpone indefinitely the exhibit set to open tomorrow on the Jewish people’s history in the land of Israel.
When UNESCO embarked on this project, the debates around numerous anti-Israel resolutions demonstrated that some Member States oppose any recognition of the Jewish people’s roots and history in Israel. That is why it was welcome that UNESCO would be hosting the exhibition. Objections to the content or to certain terminology are a very thinly veiled rejection of the Jewish people’s millennia long connection to Israel.
Further, it is the height of hypocrisy for the same Member States who have politicized UNESCO and used it as a forum to preempt peace negotiations to now raise concerns about the exhibit’s impact on peace talks.
I hope you will commence with the opening, even if it is a few days delayed. UNESCO’s decision to delay and, in effect, scuttle the opening, fuels the public perception that UNESCO has been politicized beyond repair. Even if the exhibit is reconstituted in the future, a failure to move forward with it now paints a grim picture of whether UNESCO can be a place to promote the kind of mutual recognition and reconciliation that will make a two state solution possible.
Abraham H. Foxman