PARIS (Nov. 14)
Many visitors to a recently opened exhibition here about the history of ancient Syria were shocked to find that the official catalogue of the exhibit, which contained a current map of the Middle East, completely left out any mention of Israel.
The exhibit is currently appearing at the Paris Institute of the Arab World, a museum and library located near Notre Dame Cathedral that is largely subsidized by the French state.
While specialists on the subject of ancient Middle Eastern history agreed that the exhibition is a success, many visitors noticed that neither Israel, Jerusalem nor Tel Aviv were indicated in the catalogue’s map.
The names of other countries in the region, as well as their capitals, were clearly marked on the map.
Shimon Samuels, European director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, wrote to the French minister of culture, Jacques Toubon, to protest.
“Since a large part of the Institute of the Arab World comes from your ministry, we ask you to intervene so that the necessary corrections are made on this map of a revisionist character,” he wrote.
“This map contradicts France’s foreign policy of support of the Middle East peace process. It is very disturbing that a sovereign nation, a friend of France, has been nullified in the map.
“We expect the catalogue to be corrected and the sale of the current offending edition to be stopped,” Samuels wrote.
The Paris daily Le Monde published a similar letter of protest on its op-ed page.
There has been no reaction from the directors of the institute, which is chaired by Edgard Pisani, a former French minister whose anti-Israel attitudes are well-known.
According to Samuels, the exhibition was organized under the auspices of French President Francois Mitterrand, Foreign Minister Alain Juppe and Toubon.