Thursday, June 12, 2014

Rabbi Marvin Hier remarks on the opening of the Simon Wiesenthal Center-UNESCO exhibition: “People, Book, Land: The 3,500-Year Relationship of the Jewish People to the Holy Land”
Madame Director General, Ambassadors, Members of the Diplomatic Corps, Professor Robert Wistrich of the Hebrew University who authored the exhibit, my colleagues Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the exhibit’s project manager and Dr. Shimon Samuels, the Center’s Director for International Relations;

Ladies and Gentlemen:
We have waited a long time for this day. I want to thank UNESCO’s Director General, Irina Bokova, for agreeing to co-sponsor the exhibit with the Center. I want to especially thank the Israel, Canada, the United States and Montenegro for agreeing to sponsor tonight’s opening; this exhibit would not have been possible without your consistent encouragement and support.
This is truly an historic occasion because it is the first time in the history of the United Nations through its educational and cultural arm, UNESCO, that the UN has co-sponsored an exhibit which outlines the historic raison d’etre for the UN decision to recognize a Jewish homeland in Palestine in 1947: the indisputable fact that the Jewish people have an uninterrupted 3,500-year relationship with the Holy Land.
(Photo: Rabbi Hier at podium, UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova (left) and Israel's Ambassador to UNESCO Nimrod Barkan)

This exhibit opens at a critical stage in the efforts to bring a just and viable peace to the Middle East, especially the people of Israel and the Palestinian people.  But such a peace can only come when Israel’s neighbors finally end their campaign to deny the Jewish people its national identity. No one can bypass this obstacle by pretending it doesn’t exist. Peace is not a game like Monopoly where you can skip the inconvenient and proceed directly to Go.

The purpose of this exhibit is very clear: To put an end to the canard that a Jewish State came into being in 1948, not because Jews had any connection with the land of Israel, but because the world took pity on them as a result of the Holocaust.

This exhibit will educate the world by debunking myths with historic truth. Just like Egypt is a country with a 4,000-year footprint, so Israel too, has that 3,500-year footprint in every nook and cranny of the land of Israel.
This is not only the belief of Jews, but a view shared by billions of people on the planet, who hold the Bible sacred. What we know from the Torah and the writings of the Prophets, Christians know from their Old and New Testament.
They know it is no myth that Samson met Delilah near Gaza.
That it is no fable that the greatest of Israel’s judges, Samuel, born in Ramah, crisscrossed the land of Israel and inaugurated her monarchy, installed her most famous kings: Saul and David. Samuel did not do initiate this, from Madrid or Amsterdam, but from the length and breadth of the land of Israel.
When the prophet Isaiah invoked, “What need have I, of all your sacrifices…devote yourselves to justice…uphold the rights of the orphan…defend the cause of the widow” he was not speaking from Paris, but from Jerusalem.
When the biblical Ruth, a non-Jew, born in ancient Moab spoke her, “Where you go, I will go. Your people shall be my people. Your God shall be my God.” Those unforgettable words spoken to her mother-in-law were not intoned in London or Brussels, but from Bethlehem, not far from Rachel’s tomb.
When the prophet, imprisoned for predicting the destruction of Jerusalem, prophesized from the prison courtyard, “Houses, fields, and vineyards will yet be bought in this land”…”soon will there be heard in the mountains of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem, the voice of joy and gladness, the voice of the groom and the voice of the bride” it was not the words of a foreign resident with an EU passport, but the words of Jeremiah speaking from the heart of Jerusalem, where he was born.
In that land, Jews have built a dynamic and thriving civilization over thousands of years, where the Mishna and the Jerusalem Talmud were compiled. Even when in exile, Jews, faced east toward Jerusalem when they prayed. Wherever they lived in the Holy Land, the land was tilled and irrigated, trees planted, the grass as it is today, green and lush.
That land today is a world center for research in medicine and technology. A civilization built on the pillars of freedom and human dignity, where no one is compelled to worship a God, or vote for a particular party.
The State of Israel and the Jewish People respect the origins and followers of Christendom and Islam. The time has come for Israel’s neighbors to end their attempted identity theft of the Jewish people’s 3,500-year connection with the Holy Land.
As Sir Winston Churchill so eloquently told a delegation of Arab leaders in 1921, “It is manifestly right that the Jews, who are scattered all over the world, should have a national center and a National Home … And where else could that be but in this land of Palestine, with which for more than three thousand years they have been intimately and profoundly associated?”
Thanks NG

No comments: