Dear Rabbi Hier, Dear Rabbi Cooper,
As Eric Falt, my Assistant Director-General for External Relations, indicated in his letter of 14 January, 2014, to Mr Shimon Samuels, the postponement of the inauguration follows on the receipt of a letter from the Chairperson of the Arab Group at UNESCO, written on behalf of the 22 Members of the Arab Group to UNESCO, which raises the concern that the exhibition might have a potential impact on the peace process and current negotiations in the Middle East.
UNESCO is deeply committed to the successful outcome of the peace process in order to achieve stability in the region, and we have a responsibility in ensuring that current efforts in this regard are not endangered. As you understand, UNESCO is fully in line with the overall efforts of the UN system to support the peace process in the Middle East. This is precisely why I, as Director-General, have been always committed to deploying relentless efforts in order to achieve consensus on ail the issues falling within UNESCOs educational, scientific, and cultural mandate in order to avoid confrontation and politicization.
This spirit underpins all of my efforts – including, for instance, the very successful International Symposium that we held under UNESCO patronage on 12-13 November, 2012, on the “Permanence of Yiddish,” an initiative of B’nai B’rith Representation, which is also an official partner of UNESCO in associate status, and with the participation of the Paris Yiddish Center – Modern Library.
— Hillel Neuer (@HillelNeuer) January 18, 2014
This same spirit, I would add, guides all of our work to promote education for human rights and peace, including holocaust education, where UNESCO plays a unique and leading role in the United Nations system. Our cooperation with non- governmental organizations, such as the Consultative Council of Jewish Organizations, the International Council of Jewish Women and the World Jewish Congress, just to name a few, bears witness to UNESCOs active cooperation with Jewish organizations.
In this very spirit, and having in mind the delicate phase that the peace negotiations are entering, I have no choice but to take seriously the concerns raised in the letter of the Chairperson of the Arab Group. This is all the more important, as the UNESCO Secretariat is beholden by its rules and regulations to consider fully the concerns raised by its Member States or any Regional Group regarding planned exhibitions or manifestations.
I look forward to discussing these issues further with you in order to define a modality for moving forward with our cooperation.
Thanking you for your understanding, I remain,