– Time to address inequality in the UN by recognising Yom Kippur as a UN holiday

ProsorNew York, 12th May, 2014 –  Ambassadors to the UN, officials and guests gathered at a luncheon for 50 at the UN Headquarters in New York on Monday to celebrate the 65th Anniversary of Israeli membership of the UN.  The ECI event was in honour of the state of Israel and its many contributions to the world community.

In his keynote speech, Israeli Permanent Representative Ron Prosor noted  ”The State of Israel is proof that a nation doesn’t have to be large to be great; it doesn’t have to be vast to be mighty, and it doesn’t have to be rich in natural resources to prosper.”  He went on to say: ”Our tiny country is working hand-in-hand with UN agencies to improve life and in improving the world. With the UN’s help, Israel has exported its expertise in drip irrigation, public health, development, and education across the planet – from the highest mountains of Africa to the lowest valleys of Latin America. ”

ECI Director Tomas Sandell reminded the guests that although Israel was admitted to the UN 65 years ago, the right of the Jewish people to reconstitute their ancestral homeland in what was then called Palestine, was acknowledged under international law as long ago as 1920 in the San Remo Resolution.
“After 65 years of UN membership, it is now high time that Israel is fully embraced into the family of nations by having their holidays properly recognised by the UN.”

There are currently 10 official United Nations holidays including both Christian and Muslim.  There are three major monotheistic religions in the world, but only two of those religions are reflected in the UN calendar.

”It is now time to address the inequality”, Sandell said.

At the luncheon, Ambassador Prosor presented a request to make Yom Kippur an official holiday in the UN calendar.  He called on each and every UN mission represented at the luncheon to help strengthen faith in the UN system by ensuring it recognises the Jewish faith.  After the luncheon, a formal request was sent by the Israeli Mission to all the other 192 UN missions, asking for their support for the proposal.

The luncheon was the first UN activity organised by the new ECI initiative – the Forum for Cultural Diplomacy. In his speech, Sandell explained that the objective of the Forum was to normalise relations between Israel and the UN member states in keeping with ECI’s work in the European institutions for the last ten years.
“Over the last three years, we have met with some 50 UN missions who have expressed an interest in engaging more fully with Israel on issues of mutual concern. In the Forum, we wish to create a platform for these kinds of meetings – where nations can create meaningful bonds with the Jewish state outside of the Israeli-Arab conflict, and a vehicle for better inclusion of Israel in the family of nations.

The Forum is committed to a negotiated solution to the historical Israeli-Arab conflict but insists that Israel should not be discriminated against as long as a final and comprehensive peace agreement has not been reached.

Each participant was given a copy of a concept paper on The Forum for Cultural Diplomacy, explaining the background to the request for UN recognition of Jewish holidays, as well as the statement from the San Remo convocation which took place on April 26th . The statement explains the legal foundations of the modern state of Israel, the many contributions of the Jewish people to the world community and is petitioning for the full inclusion of Israel in the family of nations.