By Lea Speyer
The Jewish state will not be prevented from proudly proclaiming its biblical and historic connections to Jerusalem, Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations told The Algemeiner on Friday.
“We will not allow key elements of the history and heritage of the Jewish people to be censored,” said Israeli UN envoy Danny Danon, in response to recent demands by Arab and Islamic delegations at the international body for Israel to remove a panel from an exhibition it is hosting at the UN which calls Jerusalem “the spiritual and physical capital of the Jewish people.”
According to a Thursday report in the New York Times, the Palestinian delegation to the UN sent a letter to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and General Assembly President Mogen Lykketoft expressing their “vehement rejection” of Israel’s description of Jerusalem. The letter — which followed protests by other Arab nations and the 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation — said all references “which purport to assert Israeli sovereignty on this land…are legally, politically and morally incorrect and unacceptable.”
The Jerusalem panel shows pictures of holy sites across the Israeli capital and states “the Jewish people are indigenous to Israel and have maintained a continuous presence in the land since 1000 BC. Jerusalem has been the center and focus of Jewish life and religion for more than three millennia and is holy to Christians and Muslims as well.”
Initially, when the exhibit first opened two months ago, three out of its 13 displays — featuring information on Jerusalem, Israeli Arabs and Zionism — were excluded after having been rejected by the UN. In response, the Israeli Mission included in the display a panel with the word “censored” on it to protest the UN decision. Shortly afterwards, the panel on Zionism was approved for display, but the panels on Jerusalem and Israeli Arabs were still excluded.
At the time, Danon pointed to a 1991 UN General Assembly resolution that reversed the 1975 equation of Zionism with racism. He said in April that “the UN is de facto enacting this old resolution, defining Zionism and Jerusalem as ‘unacceptable,’ and disqualifying key elements of the heritage of the Jewish people.”
Danon and the Israeli Mission continued their diplomatic efforts over the past two months and the exhibit was reopened in its entirety this week.
Despite the pressure from within the UN to exclude the Jerusalem panel from the exhibit, Danon said, “We insisted that the panel on Jerusalem, the eternal capital of the State of Israel, be displayed at the UN.”
“I am very proud that we stood strong, achieved an important victory and ensured that the truth is told about Israel,” he said. “The days when our heritage can be censored are over. No one can demand that we diminish the special place that Jerusalem holds in the history, and hearts, of the Jewish people.”
According to the Associated Press, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the Israeli mission followed the rules for mounting an exhibition.
While the UN tries to balance the wishes of the country wishing to exhibit without offending another country, he said, it “is not an exact science and … is not always easy.”
The exhibit, co-sponsored by pro-Israel advocacy group StandWithUs, is now being displayed near a busy corridor in the UN basement.
(c) 2016 The Algemeiner Journal