UN diplomats drew inspiration from universal message of Jewish Passover 'Freedom has always been spoken with a Hebrew accent'

New York, March 30th, 2015, - UN diplomats from 35 nations came together at the UN Headquarters in New York on Thursday to mark the upcoming Jewish holiday of Passover and draw inspiration from its universal message of freedom from slavery. The ECI luncheon was organised in conjunction with the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

ECI Founding Director Tomas Sandell reminded the guests of how the San Remo Resolution of 1920, promising the reconstitution of a Jewish national home in Palestine, is considered to be the start of the de-colonisation process as it proved that a people who had been under foreign occupation for over 1,800 years could regain independence.

In his speech, Ambassador Isaiah Z. Chabala, former Permanent Representative of Zambia to the UN, shared how the Jewish struggle for freedom from slavery and occupation has inspired many African nations in their own quest for freedom and national independence. 

Executive Director of the American Jewish Committee, David Harris, reminded the audience of how the American Civil Rights leader, Martin Luther King, drew much of his inspiration from the story of Moses and how two decades later the call to ”let my people go” led to the modern exodus of more than one million Jews from the Soviet Union. 'This proves that the story of Passover is not only a message from the past, but a contemporary one’,  he said.  

In a personal written message to the luncheon, the President of Albania, H.E Bujar Nishani, explained the relevance of Passover for his own country, where breaking free from Egyptian slavery meant leaving behind anti-Semitism, racism, chauvinism, Communism, persecution, totalitarianism and terrorism. Last December, President Nishani hosted ECI at his own Hanukkah event at the presidential palace in Tirana, thus illustrating his commitment to the universal values of the Jewish holidays.

Israeli Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador Ron Prosor, quoted the 19th century German poet Heinrich Heine, in stating that, since the Exodus, freedom has always been spoken with a Hebrew accent.  'The Jewish experience is that freedom can never be taken for granted', Prosor noted.  Commenting on the crucial last phase in the negotiations with Iran, he drew a parallel with the Passover story of the four sons - one wise, one wicked, one simple and one who does not know how to ask a question. Naming Iran as ”the wicked son” who is trying to wipe Israel off the map he went on to name those countries that are negotiating with Iran as ”the son who does not know how to ask the right questions” and refuses to acknowledge the threat that Iran poses to Israel and the international community as a whole.

This was the second ECI luncheon to mark a Jewish holiday at the UN. Last September, ECI hosted a similar luncheon event in preparation for the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, to learn about the values of forgiveness and reconciliation in international relations.

The Jewish holiday of Passover commences on Friday, April 3rd, and ends on April 11th.