For more than 20 years, a large photo exhibit titled “The Palestinian Struggle” has greeted millions of visitors to the United Nations.
But with the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian peace process, B’nai B’rith wants the exhibit removed or, at least, updated.
The exhibit “harks back to the bleakest days of the Arab-Israeli conflict,” B’nai B’rith President Tommy Baer wrote in a June 12 letter to U.N. Secretary- General Boutros Boutros-Ghali.
“It makes no mention of the peace process or of the treaties of peace between Israel and its neighbors. Indeed, it stresses conflict rather than reconciliation.”
The display, prepared by the United Nations and composed of six 3-by-4 panels, includes images of a Palestinian woman crying, a malnourished Palestinian child and Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat addressing the U.N. General Assembly in 1974.
Headlines near the photographs read: “The Search for the Solution to the Question of Palestine” and “Palestinian Rights – The Right to Self- Determination.”
Baer asked Boutros-Ghali for his help in removing or updating the exhibit – such as adding a photograph of the late Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat shaking hands at the White House in September 1993 – to reflect the Middle East peace process.
B’nai B’rith also sent a similar letter to Madeleine Albright, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, to enlist her support.
Palestinian officials are staunchly opposed to altering the exhibit. “It’s a gross intervention,” Muin Sherim, a counselor at the Palestinian Observer Mission to the United Nations, said in an interview. “We are definitely against the removal of the exhibit.
“These exhibits were based on U.N. resolutions. If the General Assembly decides to change the mandate, they will update” the display.