A Historic First: Wiesenthal Center Exhibition Opens at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris

June 11, 2014

Six months after a protest by UNESCO'S 22 Arab members which led UNESCO to delay the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s historic exhibition, People, Book, Land – The 3,500 Year Relationship of the Jewish People with the Holy Land, the exhibition opened tonight at UNESCO headquarters in Paris.

An overflow crowd of hundreds of community activists, diplomats and religious leaders watched as Irina Bokova, UNESCO's Director General joined with official co-sponsors; Israel, Canada, United States and Montenegro as SWC officials unveiled the narrative of our people’s relationship with its land.

(Photo: Rabbi Hier at podium, UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova (left) and Israel's Ambassador to UNESCO Nimrod Barkan)

After the sudden cancellation of the exhibition in January, many observers believed that this pivotal piece of history would never appear under the banner of the United Nations. But they were proven wrong. " Tonight, I told the crowd, that included leaders of France and Belgium’s beleaguered Jewish communities, this is truly an historic occasion because it is the first time in the history of the United Nations…that the UN has co-sponsored an exhibit which outlines the historic raison d’être for the UN decision to recognize a Jewish homeland in Palestine in 1947: the indisputable fact that the Jewish people have an uninterrupted 3,500-year relationship with the Holy Land.”

We have waited a long time for this day and this is a big victory for the Jewish people.

You have stood with us every step of the way and and tonight’s historic opening would not have been possible with your continued support of the Wiesenthal Center's mandate which includes using our top-tier NGO (non-governmental organization) status to educate the world about the Shoah, the State of Israel and standing for the rights and dignity of people everywhere.

PS - Click here to read the full text of the speech delivered at tonight's historic opening...