On 18 November, in the context of the UN Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB) which took place in New York, Irina Bokova took part in the inauguration of the exhibition, entitled “People, Book, Land: 3,500 Year Relationship of the Jewish People with the Holy Land” at the United States Congress in Washington DC.
The event took place in the presence of Edward Royce, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Eliot Engel, Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, H.E. Ron Dermer, Ambassador of Israel to the United States and Rabbi Marvin Hier, Founder and Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, at the Rayburn building at Capitol Hill. The event was attended by several Members of Congress, high level U.S. officials, diplomats and civil society leaders.
“For UNESCO, understanding history, respecting culture and heritage is the starting point for peace,” declared the Director-General.
“Knowing history is important for peace building today more than ever,” said Irina Bokova, underlining that it is the core mandate of UNESCO “to promote respect and mutual understanding, to fight all forms of racism, anti-Semitism and denial.”
Thanking the Director-General for participating in this event at the Congress, Rabbi Hier recalled that the exhibition was launched at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, and presented at the UN Headquarters in New York, and it will now be traveling to the Knesset in Jerusalem and to the Holy See.
Congressman Royce expressed his appreciation for the exhibition as a important tool for countering the narrative of anti-Semitism worldwide. For his part, Congressman Engel thanked UNESCO “for helping to make the history of the Jewish people known to the world” and he expressed support for the partnership and commitment of the Simon Wiesenthal Center.
The Ambassador of Israel to the United States, H.E. Mr Ron Dermer, applauded UNESCO and stated that “its mission to promote education and culture is more relevant than ever in the current context.”
Closing the event, Rabbi Hier presented to the Director-General a Special Award in recognition of her leadership and longstanding commitment to promoting peace and dialogue.