The ceremony took place at the ‘Square of Tolerance’ of the Organization’s Headquarters, which is dedicated to Yitzhak Rabin, in the presence of Ms Irina Bokova, Director-General elect, Mr Ron Huldai, Mayor of Tel Aviv, Mr Daniel Shek, Ambassador of Israel to France, Ms Noa Karavan, representing her father Dani Karavan, UNESCO Artist for peace, who designed the Square of Tolerance, and other distinguished personalities.
In his address, Mr Matsuura recalled that, when murdered, Yitzhak Rabin was pursuing the courageous dream of peace in the Middle East. “He was an inspiring leader and a brave statesman who defied the prejudices of the past to tackle the most complicated of problems in a forthright manner. It was this determination that led to his being awarded, along with Shimon Peres and Yasser Arafat, the Félix Houphouët-Boigny Peace Prize in 1993”, underlined the Director-General.
Greeting the Mayor of Tel Aviv, Mr Matsuura recalled that he had been warmly welcomed by him during his last official visit to Israel, in February 2008. “Mr Huldai’s visit to UNESCO comes at a time when the city is celebrating the 100th anniversary of its foundation in 1909. In 2003, the “white city” was inscribed on the prestigious World Heritage List for its unique architectural ensemble dating back to the 20s and 30s, and which has made Tel Aviv the capital of the Bauhaus” said the Director-General. “Over the decades Tel Aviv has flourished, and is today a symbol of modernity, multiculturalism and tolerance, all values that would have resonated with Yitzhak Rabin, who spent his life fighting for them”, he added.
“Let me therefore reaffirm that UNESCO will, more than ever before, be engaged alongside the international community in the implementation of a global strategy for reconstruction and reconciliation in the Middle East. This is the meaning of the actions we are undertaking in our fields of competence, in particular through education, to promote lasting dialogue in the region”, concluded the Director-General.
The Ambassador of Israel to France took the floor to highlight the importance of holding this ceremony at UNESCO. “The heritage of Yitzhak Rabin must be kept alive, as an inspiring source of hope for just and lasting peace,” he said.
The Mayor of Tel Aviv, in his address, underscored the City of Tel Aviv’s true commitment to the values of dialogue and tolerance which were brought to the fore during the 100th anniversary celebration of the creation of the city.
Author(s): Office of the Spokesperson - Source: Flash Info N° 227-2009 - Publication Date: 10-11-2009