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December 7, 2016 / 7 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘irina bokova’

UNESCO Passes Second Resolution Erasing Judaism from Jerusalem

Wednesday, October 26th, 2016

The UNESCO World Heritage Committee passed a second resolution Wednesday morning erasing the historic ancient ties between Judaism, Jerusalem and the holy sites in the eternal Israeli capital.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Emmanuel Nachshon called the vote “a piece of rubbish.”

The measure was proposed by Tunisia and Lebanon on behalf of the Palestinian Authority and Jordan, neither of whom are members of the World Heritage Committee. That did not stop either of the two from threatening the voting members with an ultimatum, however, if they were to decide to vote against the resolution.

Entitled ‘Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls,’ the measure refers to the holy sites in the ancient city – including the site of the two Jewish Holy Temples – exclusively by their Arabic names and solely in terms of their Islamic status.

But of the 21 member states who were eligible to vote on the measure, just 10 voted in favor of the resolution. Eight abstained, and two opposed it. Jamaica was simply absent from the room. Eight others turned in entirely blank voting forms.

Last week the Executive Board of the United Nations Education, Science and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) adopted a similar resolution, this one entitled “Occupied Palestine.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in response that the vote was a “continuation of the theater of the absurd. Radical Islamic forces destroy mosques, churches and archaeological sites, while Israel is the only state in the region that preserves them and allows freedom of worship for all religions.

“UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee deserves to be condemned, not Israel,” Netanyahu said.

The International Council on Monuments and Sites has also spoken out against the UNESCO Jerusalem resolutions, which are part of a campaign by the Palestinian Authority to reclassify all holy sites in the Israeli capital as solely Islamic in order to strengthen Muslim claims to Jerusalem. Last year’s texts, in addition to the previous resolution, referred to Israel as the “occupying power” and condemned the Jewish State for its alleged “activities” at holy sites in the city.

“There should be a clear distinction between political controversies and scientific facts and that political disputes … and political views cannot justify statements which erase basic and well known and proven historical facts,” said Council Vice President Gideon Koren, an Israeli attorney. The Council, an independent advisory body on manmade World Heritage Sites, decided to speak out after a board meeting in Istanbul.

UNESCO secretary-general Irina Bokova herself also condemned the resolutions, as did outgoing United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-moon and tens of thousands of others who signed a petition submitted to Bokova earlier this week.

Hana Levi Julian

Mexico’s Jewish Envoy Saving the Day at UNESCO

Tuesday, October 18th, 2016

Mexico’s new ambassador to UNESCO in Paris Andrés Roemer Slomianski, 52, the grandson of Ernesto Roemer, a Viennese conductor who escaped from the Nazis, walked out of the hall on Friday because he couldn’t bring himself to obey his government’s instructions to support the blatantly anti-Semitic, Arab-drafted resolution denying Jewish ties to Jerusalem’s Temple Mount and the Western Wall, UN Watch reported Monday. Mexico was one of 24 states that supported the resolution, casting its vote via one of Roemer Slomianski’s deputies.

It looked bad for a while, as Mexico’s foreign ministry ordered Roemer Slomianski home “for consultations,” after appointing him only last May. According to Israeli ambassador to UNESCO Carmel Shama-HaCohen, the Mexican diplomat, political analyst, attorney, economist, think tank founder, and author of 16 books and two award-winning plays was at risk of being “sent home and fired.” Roemer Slomianski said he thought about quitting, but after consultation with ambassadors from other countries decided to stay in office.

Now Mexico has decided to change its vote and triggered a special clause allowing it to demand a recast vote in order to change its decision. This turnaround has come amidst mounting pressure from the sane countries making up the agency, as well as a rebuke from UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova, who said she intends “to fight intolerance and contemporary forms of anti-Semitism, including those which seek to delegitimize the State of Israel,” and criticism from departing UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, who reaffirmed “the importance of the Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls for the three monotheistic religions” and stressed “the importance of the religious and historical link of the Jewish, Muslim and Christian peoples to the holy site.” As a result of all of the above, UNESCO’s executive board will revisit the resolution at 11 AM Tuesday.

A senior official in Jerusalem told Haaretz that Mexico’s changed position was the result of strong protests from Mexico’s Jewish community. Apparently the vote in favor came despite an explicit promise from Mexican President Ennrique Pena Nieto to Mexican Jews and to Israeli officials that Mexico would not support the UNESCO resolution on Jerusalem.

Even though the new vote is probably going to resemble the Friday version, it will give non-Arab countries an opportunity to change their vote, leaving the anti-Israel countries isolated. Regardless of the outcome, opposition voices in Israel, such as former PM Ehud Barak, who blamed Netanyahu’s government for the failure Friday will have to praise it now for its competence as it quickly turned world opinion around on the resolution and actually forced a new vote.

JNi.Media

Palmyra ‘Arch of Triumph’ Latest Casualty of ISIS

Tuesday, October 6th, 2015

The Da’esh (ISIS) terror group has blown up another priceless archaeological treasure in its quest for the world’s attention.

According to Syrian chief of antiquities Ma’amoun Abdulkarim, the Arch of Triumph at the 2,000-year-old city of Palmyra was destroyed on Sunday, local witnesses attested.

The group had already blown up two temples at the Roman-era UNESCO World Heritage site, which it captured from Syrian government forces this past May.

Other monuments and historic buildings at the ancient site, which the group considers to be sacrilegious, have been mined.

“It’s as though there is a curse that has befallen this city,” Abdulkarim told Reuters. “I expect only news that will shock us. If the city remains in their hands the city is doomed.”

But he added that he does not believe the destruction is driven by idealism alone at this point.

“It is now wanton destruction … their acts of vengeance are no longer ideologically driven because they are now blowing up buildings with no religious meaning,” he said.

In August, the terrorists blew up two pagan temples – the temple of Ba’alshamin, and then the Temple of Bel – one of the best preserved Roman-era sites.

Earlier this month it was confirmed that Da’esh had demolished some of the best preserved of Palmyra’s funeral towers. These were sandstone mausoleums built to hold the remains of the ancient city’s richest families.

UNESCO — the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization — describes the Arch of Triumph that graced the colonade entryway to Palmyra as “an outstanding example of Palmyrene art.”

An outraged UNESCO director-general Irina Bokova called the destruction of Palmyra’s architectural gems by Da’esh, “a war crime.”

In August, the terrorists beheaded venerated chief archaeologist of the ancient city, 82-year-old Khaled Asa’ad, after interrogating him for more than a month.

Asa’ad was executed in a main square of the historic site. His body was then hung from one of the 2,000 year old columns, his family said.

Hana Levi Julian

UNESCO: Postponing ‘Jewish Connection to Israel’ Exhibit to June

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014

A brouhaha broke out last week after UNESCO summarily canceled the opening of an exhibit it had long-promised to co-sponsor with the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

UNESCO’s reason for the last-minute cancellation was that it had been told by the Arab League that the exhibition might adversely impact the ongoing “peace process” negotiations intended to achieve peace between the Palestinian Arabs and Israel.

On Tuesday, Jan. 21 – the day after the scheduled opening – UNESCO posted a notice on its website:

Following numerous requests for information regarding the Exhibition, “People, Book, Land – The 3,500 Year Relationship of the Jewish People to the Holy Land,” UNESCO wishes to reaffirm that the exhibition has not been cancelled but postponed.

UNESCO is in discussions with the Simon Wiesenthal Center to finalize the last points and inaugurate the exhibition in the month of June.

Really?

This announcement might lead one to think that the exhibit wasn’t quite ready.  You certainly would not know, although it is true, that at the time of the original “postponement,” the exhibition materials had already been hung on the walls, thousands of invitations had been sent out, and people were already arriving in Paris in anticipation of the opening event at UNESCO’s headquarters.

This is what actually went down:

Last Tuesday, Jan. 14, the director-general of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) sent a letter to the Simon Wiesenthal Center that despite having agreed two years ago to co-sponsor an educational exhibition, which was vetted by UNESCO-sponsored academics, about the relationship between the Jews and the Holy Land, UNESCO was summarily cancelling the exhibition opening, scheduled for the following Monday, Jan. 20.

Two years in the planning? Two years of paying academics, gathering materials, flying internationally acclaimed historians and other experts in and out, restoring the materials so that they could be displayed. But on the very day that the very first peep was heard from the Arab League, and on the basis of the League’s position – without any room for discussion, negotiation or representation – the exhibit was cancelled.

The leaders of the Wiesenthal Center, dean and founder Rabbi Marvin Hier, and associate dean Rabbi Abraham Cooper, immediately dashed off a letter to Irina Bokova, UNESCO’s director-general.

They started out reminding the good madam that the SWC had followed every request and condition laid down by UNESCO in order to ensure a smooth process and a successful event. Then they reminded her that she was the one who put her own signature on the agreement to launch the joint undertaking. And then they told her what they expected of her:

we insist that you live up to your responsibilities and commitments as the co-organizer of this exhibition by overturning this naked political move that has no place in an institution whose mandate is defined by education, science, and culture — not politics. Failure to do so would confirm to the world that UNESCO is the official address of the Arab narrative of the Middle East.

Rabbi Cooper spoke with The Jewish Press on Thursday, Jan. 16. In Cooper’s view, the exhibition was not pulled because of the content. It is a purely historical body of work. And if there are critics out there who cannot believe the SWC could be trusted to ensure absolute honesty and partiality about the topic, surely the UNESCO-appointed academics made sure that was the case.

“No, pulling the exhibition had nothing to do with the content, it was simply the very idea – truth or not – that Jews have had a 3,500 years long relationship with the Holy Land” that the Arab League could not permit and the League’s displeasure was not something UNESCO could abide for even a single day.

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

US: ‘UNESCO’s Decision Is Wrong and Should Be Reversed’

Saturday, January 18th, 2014

The Obama administration is “deeply disappointed” with a decision by UNESCO, the United Nation’s cultural arm, to cancel the opening of an exhibition on the Jewish presence in the land of Israel and is seeking its placement “as soon as possible.”

Complaints by Arab states led UNESCO to cancel the exhibition, organized by the Simon Wiesenthal Center along with the governments of Canada and Montenegro. It was scheduled to open Jan. 20 at the Paris headquarters of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power urged UNESCO to rethink the decision on the exhibition.

“UNESCO’s decision is wrong and should be reversed,” she said in a statement. “The United States has engaged at senior levels to urge UNESCO to allow this exhibit to proceed as soon as possible.”

“UNESCO is supposed to be fostering discussion and interaction between civil society and member states, and organizations such as the Wiesenthal Center have a right to be heard and to contribute to UNESCO’s mission,” Power said.

“The United States is deeply disappointed and has engaged with senior levels at UNESCO to confirm that the action to postpone does not represent a cancellation and to underscore our interest in seeing the exhibit proceed as soon as possible,” a State Department official told JTA on Friday. “We trust that UNESCO will approach this issue fairly and in a manner consistent with the organization’s guidelines and past precedent.”

UNESCO director-general Irina Bokova said Wednesday in a letter to the Simon Wiesenthal Center that the exhibit, titled “The People, the Book, the Land — 3,500 years of ties between the Jewish people and the Land of Israel,” would be postponed indefinitely. She said the decision arose out of UNESCO’s support for peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

“We have a responsibility in ensuring that current efforts in this regard are not endangered,” she wrote.

The cancellation followed a letter sent to Bokova on Jan. 14 by the Arab group at UNESCO. “The Arab group is deeply disturbed by the exhibition, which it condemns,” said the letter from the group’s president, Abdullah Elmealmi.

“This cause is championed by those who oppose peace efforts,” Elmealmi said. “The media campaign accompanying the exhibition will inevitably damage the peace talks, the incessant efforts of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and UNESCO’s neutrality.”

The State Department official said the exhibition comported with UNESCO’s mission of cultural preservation and education. “UNESCO was designed to foster just this kind of discussion and interaction between civil society and member states and the United States firmly supports the right of civil society in member states such as the Wiesenthal Center to be heard and to contribute to UNESCO’s mission,” the official said.

In an email, the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s director of international affairs, Shimon Samuels, wrote that the center was outraged by Bokova’s decision. He called for an email campaign opposing cancellation.

The U.S. and Israel’s position within UNESCO has been weakened last November, when the U.N. organization suspended their voting rights, two years after both countries stopped paying dues, because UNESCO had granted full membership to the Palestinians.

The White House has since been urging the U.S. Congress to resume paying dues in order to regain its vote.

JTA content was used in this report

Jewish Press News Briefs

UNESCO Cancels Israel Expo following Arab Pressure

Friday, January 17th, 2014

Complaints by Arab states led the United Nation’s cultural arm, UNESCO, to cancel the opening of an exhibition on the Jewish presence in the land of Israel.

The exhibition, organized by the Simon Wiesenthal Center along with the governments of Canada and Montenegro, was scheduled to open Jan. 20 at the Paris headquarters of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

UNESCO director-general Irina Bokova on Wednesday said in a letter to the Simon Wiesenthal Center that the exhibit, titled “The People, the Book, the Land — 3,500 years of ties between the Jewish people and the Land of Israel,” would be postponed indefinitely. She said the decision arose out of UNESCO’s support for peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

“We have a responsibility in ensuring that current efforts in this regard are not endangered,” she wrote.

The cancellation followed a letter sent to Bokova on Jan. 14 by the Arab group at UNESCO, which admitted the Palestinian Authority as a member in 2011. “The Arab group is deeply disturbed by the exhibition, which it condemns,” said the letter by the Arab group’s president, Abdullah Elmealmi.

“This cause is championed by those who oppose peace efforts,” Elmealmi said. “The media campaign accompanying the exhibition will inevitably damage the peace talks, the incessant efforts of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and UNESCO’s neutrality.”

In an email, the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s director of international affairs, Shimon Samuels, wrote that the center was outraged by Bokova’s decision. He called for an email campaign opposing cancellation.

JTA

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/unesco-cancels-israel-expo-following-arab-pressure/2014/01/17/

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