SWC Welcomes UN Reversal of Decision to Censor Israel’s Exhibit

May 17, 2022

Following a letter of appeal from the Simon Wiesenthal Center, the United Nations has reversed course and agreed to allow Israel to display an exhibit commemorating the 70th Anniversary of the Jewish State’s Knesset that includes references to Jerusalem as the nation’s capital. 

“We welcome this common-sense decision,” said Eric J. Greenberg, SWC’s Director of United Nations Relations & Strategic Partnership. “This is a victory for Israel’s freedom of expression and ability to present its own history as it understands it.” 

In March, the UN refused to allow the exhibit titled “The Knesset Celebrates 70—Parliament Shaping Israeli Society,”  to be displayed unless certain content was deleted, including references to Jerusalem as the nation’s capital.  

”This is censorship and unacceptable,” said Greenberg and SWC  Associate Dean and Global Social Action Director Rabbi Abraham Cooper in a March 28 letter to UN Secretary General António Guterres. “We respectfully ask you to step in and overturn this decision by your Department of Operational Support and allow the State of Israel’s exhibit to be displayed as it was conceived.”

SWC had joined Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan, who protested the decision saying “the impertinent demand of the UN censor the exhibit and remove pictures that reflect our national history is, in fact, a request to rewrite Israel’s history and we will not agree to that in any way.”

A compromise solution was ultimately reached:  At the exhibit, which opens on May 19 at UN Headquarters in New York City, it will be made clear that any content not in line with UN policy represents the views and opinion of the State of Israel.

Cooper noted that SWC’s 2015 exhibit “People, Book, Land – the 3,500 Year Relationship of the Jewish People with the Holy Land” was the first of its kind to be displayed at UN headquarters in a partnership with UNESCO and co-sponsored by the Permanent Mission of Israel, Canada and the United States. The exhibit has been translated into 10 languages and been displayed in Japan, India, Argentina, Azerbaijan, at The Vatican, and UNESCO headquarters.

For further information contact the Center’s Communications department at pressinquiries@wiesenthal.com, join the Center on Facebook, or follow @simonwiesenthal for news updates sent directly to your Twitter feed.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center is one of the largest international Jewish human rights organizations with over 400,000 member families in the United States. It is an NGO at international agencies including the United Nations, UNESCO, the OSCE, the OAS, the Council of Europe and the Latin American Parliament (Parlatino).

Powered by Blackbaud
nonprofit software