kosher bookworm

Exhibiting Israel’s story counters delegitimization


This week’s column features a special report from Targum Shlishi that should be of interest to many of our readers. It concerns a translation into Hungarian of a new exhibition that will be seen in Hungary concerning the religious historic connection between the Jewish people and Eretz Yisrael.

At the heart of this essay is the scholarship of the late Dr. Robert Wistrich, whose work on anti-Semitism was featured some years ago in this column. I hope that you will find this article to be of more than just of passing interest.

Hungary has had a rather checkered history when it come to bigotry against Jews. Hopefully, this exhibit will, in some small measure, help to inform Hungarians as to the truth concerning the history of anti-Jewish bigotry, and to thus rectify the truth of our people’s connection to the holy land as well as to our people’s role in Hungarian history.

By Targum Shlishi

The exhibition “People, Book, Land—The 3,500 Year Relationship of the Jewish People with the Holy Land,” produced by the Simon Wiesenthal Center, has traveled widely since its inception in 2014. Targum Shlishi is supporting the translation of the exhibition’s twenty-five text panels into Hungarian, in preparation for an exhibition in Hungary.

The exhibition, authored by the late scholar Robert Wistrich, a professor at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, is co-sponsored by UNESCO and the governments of Canada, Israel, and the United States. The exhibition traces the history of the Jewish people’s long relationship with the Holy Land, beginning with text panels focused on subject material including Abraham, Moses, David and Solomon, and the Prophets. The chronologically organized exhibition then moves through centuries of Jewish history before devoting several panels to exploring the recent past, from the late 1800s until today, in terms of the Jewish presence in the Holy Land. 

Professor Wistrich was a scholar of anti-Semitism who found significant parallels between today’s extreme anti-Zionism and the anti-Jewish sentiments so prevalent in Europe before the Holocaust. Part of the purpose of the exhibition is to address and counter anti-Zionism.

 “Israel just celebrated its seventieth Independence Day. Unfortunately, there are persistent and aggressive assaults on Israel’s legitimacy from multiple sources that range from the international community to college campuses. As the current climate demonstrates, this exhibition is more important than ever,” notes Andrea Gollin, program director of Targum Shlishi. “People, Book, Land counters the delegitimization of Israel by clearly tracing the long and profound connection the Jews have had with this land.”

 This is the first exhibition of its kind in the history of the UN. As Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean and founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, said on the occasion of the initial launch, the exhibition “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.”

The exhibition’s early days were marked with controversy; its launch at UNESCO in Paris in 2014 was delayed by six months due to opposition from the Arab block, which protested that the exhibition would undermine Middle East peace talks. The initial response to the exhibition demonstrates why this material is so relevant and how significant it is that thousands of people all over the world have viewed this material since the show’s initial launch.

The exhibition has traveled widely since its inception in 2014 and been viewed by thousands. Places where it has been on view, in addition to UNESCO in Paris, include the UN in New York, the US Congress, the Israeli Knesset, the Vatican, Copenhagen Town Hall, the New Delhi Gandhi Centre, the British House of Commons, and the CCK Presidential Cultural Centre in Buenos Aires.