UN partly backtracks on censorship of Israel exhibit
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UN partly backtracks on censorship of Israel exhibit

Zionism panel goes on show at NY HQ, but panels describing status of Arab Israelis and historical importance of Jerusalem still nixed

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

A panel on Zionism that was initially 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)
A panel on Zionism that was initially 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 United Nations on Monday partially reversed its censorship of an exhibit about Israel at its New York headquarters and allowed a panel about Zionism to be displayed. But it remained firm in its refusal to permit two further panels explaining the equal status of Arab Israelis and Jerusalem’s central position in millennia of Jewish history.

Israel’s mission to the UN said in a statement that the change came after Ambassador Danny Danon demanded the exhibit be allowed in its entirety.

Over the weekend the UN had decided that three of the 13 panels in the display “Israel Matters,” were to be be deleted. The censored panels deemed “inappropriate” are on the subjects of Zionism, Jerusalem and Arab Israelis.

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.”

A panel on Zionism 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)
A panel on Zionism 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)

Danon welcomed the relaxing of the ban on the Zionism panel but stressed that all of the exhibit’s contents should be permitted.

“The decision to allow the panel on Zionism is a clear win for Israeli diplomacy and a victory for the truth about Israel,” he said. “The UN must now reverse its decision to censor the other elements and allow all the panels to be exhibited – including the sections on Jerusalem and Arab Israelis.”

Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon speaking before to an emergency session of the Security Council, March 3, 2016. (Courtesy)
Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon (Courtesy)

The exhibit, created by Israel’s permanent mission to the United Nations with the organization StandWithUs, initially opened without the three censored panels and instead organizers displayed a photograph of the Zionism panel with the word ‘Censored’ across it. After the UN relented, the original full panel was placed in the exhibit.

“This is a step in the right direction, but the UN must reverse its earlier decision entirely and allow the exhibit to be displayed without censoring the truth about Israel and Jerusalem – the eternal capital of the Jewish people,” Danon continued.

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)
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)
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)

JTA contributed to this report.

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