TEL AVIV – A United Nations ban on an Israeli exhibit at the organization’s headquarters in New York has finally been lifted in its entirety after Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon petitioned Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to reverse what he called a “scandalous” decision.
The exhibit was first censored in early April but the UN reversed its decision hours later following a protest, allowing ten of the thirteen panels to be displayed. The three panels that were deemed “inappropriate” and subsequently banned were on Zionism, the Jewish people’s connection to Jerusalem, and Israel’s treatment of minorities, including Israeli Arabs.
The first censored panel noted that “Zionism is the liberation movement of the Jewish people, who sought to overcome 1,900 years of oppression and regain self-determination in their indigenous homeland.”
After a tete a tete that lasted two months, Israel’s permanent mission to the UN, which created the exhibit together with pro-Israel advocacy group StandWithUs, finally gained the upper hand and the censored panel was restored.
“We stood firm that the exhibit on Jerusalem, the eternal capital of the state of Israel, be displayed at the UN,” said Danon. “It is not possible to censor a significant part of the history and the values of the Jewish nation.
“I am very proud that we stood our ground and achieved a clear victory for the Israeli truth. The days are over when they will try to censor our heritage and demand that we hide the special place of Jerusalem in the history of the Jewish nation and the state of Israel,” he added.
However, the Associated Press reports that hours after the panel was reinstated, Arab and Islamic nations wrote a letter demanding that the United Nations remove the panel on Jerusalem.
The letter, which was spearheaded by the Palestinian mission to the UN and co-signed by the 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation, expressed “vehement rejection” of the exhibit’s description of Jerusalem as “the spiritual and physical capital of the Jewish people.”
The letter added that the exhibit’s claim regarding “Israeli sovereignty on this land [is] legally, politically, and morally incorrect and unacceptable.”
UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric responded that the Israeli mission followed the rules for such displays, and even though the UN always tries to walk the line between allowing one country to exhibit without offending another country it “is not always easy.”