Controversy Brewing After United Nations Censors ‘Israel Matters’ Exhibit
April 4, 2016 6:42 PM
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Israel’s permanent mission to the United Nations, along with the group StandWithUs, displayed an exhibit of pride at the United Nations Headquarters in New York on Monday.
The theme was “Israel Matters,” CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez reported. However, before it went public, the UN banned three out of 13 panels on Zionism, Jerusalem, and Arab Israelis, calling them “inappropriate.”
UN Ambassador to Israel Danny Danon called the decision “scandalous” and demanded Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon allow all the panels to be displayed.
“We will fight for the truth and we will make sure the full exhibition will be presented at the UN,” Danon said.
A spokesperson for the UN secretary general said there was a misunderstanding about a picture on the Zionism panel, but he wouldn’t explain what that misunderstanding was. However, after a discussion with the permanent mission of Israel, the UN reversed its decision and allowed that panel to be displayed. The other two remain banned.
U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer was appalled by the decision.
“To say that ‘Israel matters’ should not be an exhibit is saying you don’t believe Israel should exist. And that’s just wrong and it shows how biased the UN is. It’s awful,” he said.
A UN spokesperson defended the decision saying, “The displays need to be in conformity with the purposes and principles of the organization. While you may promote your country, that should not be done at the expense of others who cannot immediately respond.”
“We can not accept the fact that the UN is still disqualifying the exhibition about Jerusalem about democracy about Israel. You can not censor Israel,” Danon said.
“The UN’s reversal of its decision is an important victory that sends a clear message about the importance of standing strong for what you believe in,” said Shahar Azani, Executive Director of StandWithUs New York.
The group said it won’t stand down until the entire exhibit is allowed to be displayed.
UN censors exhibit on Israel set for NY headquarters
Three panels — on Zionism, Jerusalem and Arab Israelis — deemed ‘inappropriate,’ removed from display
BY JTA April 4, 2016, 1:58 am
The United Nations has censored an exhibition about Israel set to go on display at the organization’s headquarters in New York.
Three of the 13 panels in the exhibition “Israel Matters,” which is set to open Monday, will be deleted, the UN decided over the weekend. The censored panels deemed “inappropriate” are on the subjects of Zionism, Jerusalem and Arab-Israelis.
The exhibit was created by Israel’s permanent mission to the United Nations with the organization StandWithUs.
Israel’s UN ambassador, Danny Danon, has called on Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to reverse what he called the “scandalous” decision and allow the panels to be displayed.
“By disqualifying an exhibition about Zionism, the UN is undermining the very existence of the State of Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people,” Danon said in a statement. “We will not allow the UN to censor the fact that Jerusalem is Israel’s eternal capital.”
He added: “The UN must reverse this outrageous decision and apologize to the Jewish people. Zionism and Jerusalem are the foundation stones and the moral basis upon which the State of Israel was founded.”
The Jerusalem panel describes the Jewish people as “indigenous to Israel” and states that “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.”
A panel on Jerusalem that was removed by UN officials from an exhibit on Israel prepared by the Israeli Mission to the UN and StandWithUs set to be displayed April 4, 2016. (Israeli Mission to the UN)
The panel on Arab-Israelis calls them “the largest minority in Israel, making up 20 percent of Israel’s population” and says they are “equal citizens under the law in Israel.”
A panel on Arab-Israelis that was removed by UN officials from an exhibit on Israel prepared by the Israeli Mission to the UN and StandWithUs set to be displayed April 4, 2016. (Israeli Mission to the UN)
The Zionism panel calls it “the liberation movement of the Jewish people, who sought to overcome 1,900 years of oppression and regain self-determination in their indigenous homeland.”