Jewish leaders condemn Unesco decision to cancel Israel exhibition

Jewish groups have condemned a decision by Unesco - the cultural arm of the United Nations - to cancel an exhibition about Israel following pressure from Arab states.

“The People, the Book, the Land — 3,500 years of ties between the Jewish people and the Land of Israel” was due to open at Unesco's Paris headquarters on Jaunary 20.

But it was pulled after a group of Arab states, which includes the Palestinian authority, said they found it "deeply disturbing".

Unesco director-general Irina Bokova told the Simon Wiesethal Centre, which organised the display, that the decision arose out of Unesco ’s support for peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

She said: “We have a responsibility in ensuring that current efforts in this regard are not endangered .”

Simon Wiesenthal Centre's director of international affairs, Shimon Samuels, said that the centre was outraged by the move.

He called for an email campaign to protest against the cancellation.

The World Jewish Congress also denounced the cancellation. In a statement, its president, Ronald S Lauder, said: “This cancellation of a long-planned exhibit is an outrageous political manipulation of a cultural event”.

Last updated: 11:07am, January 20 2014