UNESCO Director-General Joins Top Congressional Leaders at Capitol Hill Opening of SWC Historical Exhibition on the Jewish People and The Holy Land

UNESCO Director-General Joins Top Congressional Leaders at Capitol Hill Opening of SWC Historical Exhibition on the Jewish People and The Holy Land

UNESCO Director-General Joins Top Congressional Leaders at Capitol Hill Opening of SWC Historical Exhibition on the Jewish People and The Holy Land
Top diplomat was in Paris during terror attacks; warns of escalating threats of violent extremism, hatred and intolerance
November 19, 2015

UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova joined Congressman Ed Royce (R-CA), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Congressman Eliot Engel (D-NY), Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and Rabbi Marvin Hier, Simon Wiesenthal Dean and Founder at the Capitol Hill opening of the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s exhibition People, Book, Land: The 3,500 year Relationship of the Jewish People with the Holy Land at the Rayburn Congressional Building in Washington DC.

Center officials presenting Director-General Bokova with the SWC's
International Leadership Award - (courtesy Director-General Bokova's Twitter feed)

Congressional leaders, diplomats, human rights activists and Jewish leaders attended the opening where Director-General Bokova recalled, “UNESCO initiated this historical exhibition with the Simon Wiesenthal Centre…we launched this together, at UNESCO Headquarters in June 2014…[and] opened at the United Nations Headquarters last March. This Exhibition reminds us of the profound, unassailable connection between the Jewish people and the Holy Land…Knowing this history is important to counter false narratives of hatred and anti-Semitism, to disarm violence and intolerance. These are turbulent times…We see conflict and violence tearing societies apart…We see the rise of violent extremism, ideologies of hatred and intolerance…We saw last week the devastating terrorist attacks against Paris, which have shocked the world. The lessons learned from exhibitions like this one must be seen everywhere, if there is to be peace…."

Chairman Royce (pictured above left with Rabbi Hier) spoke of the strong ties between the US and the Jewish State. Congressman Engel (pictured above right with Rabbi Hier and SWC Associate Dean, Rabbi Abraham Cooper) detailed the many threats the Jewish people are facing from Iran to BDS. Israel’s Ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, asserted that “Israel wants to live in peace with her neighbors” but that a key problem was the refusal to recognize the Jewish people’s right to be in their land. “This exhibition is a key to peace,” Ambassador Dermer said, echoing the sentiments of the UNESCO Chief and Rabbi Marvin Hier, Dean and Founder of the leading Jewish human rights NGO said. “Rabbi Hier recalled that Mrs. Bokova helped overcome the opposition of 22 Arab nations who intially bocked the exhibition’s launch adding,”Our exhibition teaches that the Hebrew prophets taught their universal lessons of justice and compassion in the streets of Jerusalem, not Madrid, or Rome…The troubled world we live in today needs more Americas and more Israels.”

Mark Weitzman, SWC Government Affairs Director, Rabbi Meyer H. May, SWC Executive Director, Rabbi Cooper, Ambassador Ron Dermer, Director-General Bokova, and Rabbi Hier.

Exhibition project manager Rabbi Cooper, noted, “The 3,500 Year Relationship Between the Jewish People and the Holy Land is the answer to the ‘big lie’, that the Jewish people were 'given' the land in 1948 in wake of the Shoah. We have plans of bringing the exhibition across the US and Canada and to every continent and to make a portable version of the exhibition available to communities to counter BDS and 'Israel/Apartheid' campaigns."

The historical exhibition, co-organized with UNESCO, was authored by the renowned late historian Professor Robert Wistrich. It is the first exhibition of its kind that has the support of the United Nations. It premiered at UNESCO’s headquarters in Paris, and at United Nations headquarters in New York. The exhibition will next open in the Knesset in Jerusalem on November 30, 2015.

Photos: Marshall Cohen

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