in the New York World's Fair 1964-1965

"War Through Misunderstanding":
The Jordan Pavilion Controversy


We must exercise every ingenuity to reconcile differences by simple, friendly human contacts away from protocol, diplomacy and debates over ideologies which are the functions of the chancelleries and the United Nations. This is our opportunity at Flushing Meadow in 1964 and 1965.

- Robert Moses101

 

MURAL OF A REFUGEE*
Mural of a Refugee
Before you go,
Have you a minute to spare,
To hear a word on Palestine
And perhaps to help us right a wrong?
 
Ever since the birth of Christ
And later with the coming of Mohammed,
Christians, Jews and Moslems, believers
.....in one God,
Lived there in peaceful harmony.
 
For centuries it was so,
Until strangers from abroad,
Professing one thing, but underneath,
.....another,
Began buying up land and stirring up the
.....people.
 
Neighbors became enemies
And fought against each other,
The strangers, once thought terror's victims,
Became terror's fierce practioners.
 
Seeking peace at all costs, including the
.....cost of justice,
The blinded world, in solemn council, split
.....the land in two,
Tossing to one side
The right of self-determination.
 
What followed then perhaps you know.
Seeking to redress the wrong, our nearby
.....neighbors
Tried to help us in our cause,
And for reasons, not in their control, did not
.....succeed.
 
Today, there are a million of us,
Some like us, but many like my mother,
Wasting their lives in exiled misery
Waiting to go home.
 
But even now, to protect their gains ill-got,
As if the land was theirs and had the right,
They're threatening to disturb the Jordan's
.....course
And make the desert bloom with warriors.
 
And who's to stop them?
The world seems not to care, or is blinded
.....still.
That's why I'm glad you stopped
And heard the story.

The New York World's Fair opened on April 22, 1964. By April 23, the Fair's theme of Peace Through Understanding was already coming into question, as officials from the American-Israel Pavilion lodged a complaint about an item in the Jordan Pavilion. The item of controversy was a mural which was displayed near the exit of Jordan's exhibit, depicting a young Arab refugee and his mother. The mural was inscribed with a poem which commented on the refugee situation in Palestine. "Before you go, have you a minute more to spare to hear a word on Palestine and perhaps to help us right a wrong?" the poem begins. It goes on to say that the people of the region lived in peace and harmony until "strangers from abroad, professing one thing, but underneath another, began buying up land and stirring up the people.… The strangers, once thought terror's victims, became terror's fierce practitioners." The poem concludes with a comment on the Israeli-Jordan water politics of the 1960s involving the use of the Jordan River. "But even now, to protect their gains ill-got, as if the land was theirs and had the right, they're threatening to disturb the Jordan's course and make the desert bloom with warriors."102

The first complaint was sent to Robert Moses by the officials of the American-Israel World's Fair Corporation, the signatures including Harold S. Caplin, Chairman of the Board and Zechariahu Sitchin, President. The officials called the mural "propaganda against Israel and its people" and said that "use of the fairgrounds for the dissemination of such propaganda runs counter to the spirit of the fair as expressed in its theme." On the other hand, King Hussein of Jordan, who had visited the Fair on April 23, stated that he did not find the mural offensive. "All pavilions are propaganda," he said. "We are not against the Jews, but we are against Israel and the foreigners who took our homes and property."103

Article 16 of the Fair's by-laws stated that "the Fair Corporation will not permit the operation of a concession or exhibit which reflects discredit upon any nation or state." Article 27 gave the Fair Corporation "the right to censor all projects at the Fair site." By this token, the American-Israel Pavilion had a right to request that the Fair order the removal of the mural.104 Yet the response from the World's Fair was not what they had hoped for. In a telegram from Robert Moses the following day, it was clear that the Fair would rather not be involved in the dispute. "The Fair cannot censor the mural you refer to, even though it is political in nature and subject to misinterpretation. We believe no good purpose would be served by exaggerating the significance of this reference to national aims or attributing racial animus to it."105

As the situation was publicized through the press and individuals and organizations began to take notice, the complaints of the public were redirected to City Hall. In response, Paul O'Dwyer, Manhattan Councilman-at-Large, sent a telegram to the Fair citing New York City's interest in the Fair as a major investor, and his concern that the Fair "should be used as a medium of propaganda by a nation dedicated to a policy of extermination and genocide." "One must question," O'Dwyer wrote, "the propriety in the first instance of permitting the use of city property to any nation whose avowed purpose is to wipe its neighbor off the face of the earth." O'Dwyer asserted that the mural in the Jordanian pavilion was "offensive to our city and its people" and the permission for it to remain made Peace Through Understanding a "meaningless slogan."106 O'Dwyer, along with another Councilman, filed a complaint with Mayor Wagner as well.

On May 7, Joseph F. Ruggieri, Brooklyn Councilman-at-Large proposed a law that would forbid the display of any public item that "portrays depravity, criminality, unchastity or lack of virtue of a class of persons of any race, color, creed or religion" and called on Mayor Wagner and Robert Moses to have the mural removed.

Jordan Pavilion officials indicated that they threatened to close the pavilion if any
order to remove the mural occurred. Hashem Dabbas, a Jordanian Pavilion administrator, reasoned that Jordan's interest in participating in the Fair was to "show the American people what our problems are."
107

An architectural rendering of the Pavilion of Jordan shows a one-story structure with a concrete roof covered with gold mosaic.*
Architectural rendering of the Jordan Pavilion

The Council's resolution gave some hope to the officials of the American-Israel Pavilion, but with no deadline for the mural's removal in sight and mounting protests by visitors to the Fair and American-Jewish organizations, the American Jewish Congress (AJC) asked the Fair for permission to picket in front of Jordan's pavilion on May 25, which would be the Fair's celebratory "Jordan Day" marking that nation's independence. Robert Moses refused the AJC's request succinctly. "We shall not license picketing to encourage international incidents in a fair primarily devoted to promoting friendship through increased understanding."108 In a statement to the press, Dr. Joachim Prinz, the President of the AJC, rejected Moses's ruling. "Mr. Moses' statement indicates that he regards himself as the sole judge of whether picketing promotes or hampers international friendship. In this country, no public official - even one so eminent as Mr. Moses - has the authority to make such decisions."109 The Committee on American-Arab Relations (CAAR) might have agreed with Prinz, because the day after Moses's statement, Dr. Mohammed Mehdi, Secretary General of CAAR telegrammed Moses asking for permission to picket the American-Israel Pavilion on May 25 in retaliation to the AJC's request.

We beg permission to picket American-Israeli Pavilion on May 25th. The existence of this anomalous pavilion, which is neither American nor Israeli, is both propaganda and an insult to the Arabs and the Americans. We would not have raised the issue except for Zionist totalitarianism which is as intolerant as fascism or communism. Full of hatred against the Arabs, the Israeli-Americans behaved as if they were in Israel and not in the midst of an open society. We resent Zionist endeavors to remove [the] Jordan mural. Freedom of expression must be protected despite Zionist intolerance.

Moses replied to Dr. Mehdi immediately. "Let me urge you to drop the matter," he said. "Let's work for friendship and peace."110

Dr. Prinz did not drop the matter, however, and on May 25, he and twelve national officers of the AJC defied the ban on unauthorized demonstrations that the Fair had put into place because of threatened protests on opening day by civil rights groups. They were promptly arrested by the Fair's Pinkerton police force. The offenders were charged with disorderly conduct. Dr. Mehdi publicly stated that "the fair regulation against picketing is probably unconstitutional," but he did not defy the ban. Instead his group demonstrated outside the New York offices of the AJC and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), an organization which had filed a lawsuit in the State Supreme Court earlier in the week requesting the closing of Jordan's pavilion. 111

Architectural rendering of the American-Israel Pavilion, a 45-foot spiral with a facade of African redwood mahogany.*
Architectural rendering of the American-Israel Pavilion

(left) Curving steel framework of the Jordan Pavilion under construction. (right) The American-Israel pavilion rises from Flushing Meadows in early spring of 1964.*
Jordan Pavilion construction American-Israel Pavilion construction

Testimony on the ADL's lawsuit began in early June. For the first time, the World's Fair gave an argument to back up their position on the mural. Bernard L. Sanoff, lawyer for the Fair, said that the censorship clause in the Fair by-laws was "obviously aimed at lewd and lascivious shows."112 The Fair indeed had been censoring some of the entertainment shows that were not up to quality standards dictated by Moses or were marked by any possible sexual explicitness. Moses never denied that he felt censorship necessary for his good, clean fair. In his opening day essay in the New York Times, Moses explained the Fair's stance: "Can we survive without a certain amount of over-the-line vulgarity just short of censorship and police intervention? We have chosen the side of the angels."113

Censorship of various pavilions was plentiful throughout the length of the Fair. On May 9, Charles Poletti ordered the closing of the French Pavilion because it was "not French enough," according to the New York Times.114 Before the Fair opened, Moses asked the Protestant and Orthodox Center not to show its short film "Parable," which depicted Jesus in a pantomime's makeup, because he felt some fairgoers might find it objectionable. The film stayed and was so popular that it helped in a substantial way to finance the pavilion.115 A small-budget rock show called "Summer Time Revue" was also ordered closed by the Fair in August because Moses thought it was not in "good taste." In justifying his decision, he said, "Do you think that we want the church organizations to complain? The Catholics for example? We invited them here." The producer maintained that the show had not changed since Moses previewed it himself, months before.116 Accordingly, the Fair decided censorship was appropriate when a pavilion did not represent a country properly, when it showed an exhibit that might offend visitors (especially of the religious nature), or when it was tasteless. But when censorship was actually requested for an exhibit that did not represent a country properly, that did offend many visitors (especially religious ones - thousands of protest letters were received by the Fair from Jews and Jewish organizations), and about which many guests and public officials would argue was tasteless, the Fair did nothing to cease the complaints.

For Moses to have such strong concerns about possibly offending the Catholics, it is
surprising that the Fair did not take into any consideration how offensive the mural was to many Jewish groups and individuals. According to Robert Caro, Robert Moses's biographer, "Every one of the major religions in America was represented at the Fair, save one, and Jewish leaders were increasingly perturbed by the absence of any representation of their faith (some of them seeming to feel that the Fair was not especially anxious to have any)…"
117 At the World's Fair there were eight official religious pavilions, including the Vatican. Five of the religious pavilions, which were provided rent-free, were placed in the International Area of the Fair, and thus were under the care of the IAE, a staff that consisted of not one Jew. Moses himself was born to a Jewish family, but had repeatedly publicly renounced his faith.118 However, Moses's position against the Jewish and Israel-supporting community at the Fair seemed to be something other than self-deprecation or anti-Semitism.

The Jewish People did have representation at the Fair with the American-Israel Pavilion, its major investors prominent American Jewish organizations such as Hadassah and the Zionist Organization of America. Originally, the American Jewish community did plan to erect its own pavilion at the Fair, with plans spearheaded by the Synagogue Council of America. But in April 1963, the Council announced it would not be participating for "practical reasons" that it did not elaborate upon.119 Meanwhile, Israel planned its own pavilion and had made headway on the design of the building, but the Israeli Cabinet pulled out of the Fair in October 1962 citing the high costs of the land lease. Poletti admitted it was a "complete surprise" and Moses "attacked" Israel's Prime Minister David Ben Gurion for the withdrawal.120 Moses did not take kindly to nations withdrawing from his Fair. For example, he was so outraged that Canada was not participating, that he actually sabotaged the Argentina Pavilion when he found out its major investor was a Canadian company. Bruce Nicholson, a member of the IAE division remembers, "It all seemed like a huge global game, pitting country against country. We were our own State Department, Defense Department and war strategists. And if it were necessary to sacrifice Argentina to spite Canada, so be it."121

Architectural model of the winning design for the official Israeli Pavilion at the New York World's Fair. After the Israeli Cabinet rescinded Israel's official participation in the Fair in 1962, the design became the basis for their Pavilion at expo67 in Montreal, Canada. Had the pavilion been built in New York, it would have occupied the site where the African Pavilion stood.*
Architectural model, official Pavilion of Israel

Israel was no exception to the wrath of Moses's personal foreign policy. Despite the success of the quick mounting of the American-Israel Pavilion, Moses's grudge towards Israeli and Jewish groups lasted throughout the course of the Fair.

Besides the mural controversy, there was one other religious incident at the Fair that outraged local Jews. In June 1964, a group of 80 students from the Bellerose Jewish Center visited the Fair's Hall of Education. At this Hall was an exhibit by the American Board of Missions to the Jews, Inc., which was established in the 19th Century to "promulgate the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ among the Jews." The Mission designed its exhibit with the word "Israel" across the top. On that day, the Baptist minister who ran the exhibit discreetly lured a 12-year-old boy away from the group and brought him to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association Pavilion to watch the revivalist's film. When the boy's rabbi and mother made the accusation that this minister attempted to convert the young boy, the Fair promised to inspect the situation and if all were true, the exhibit would be closed. However, no action against the American Board of Missions to the Jews was ever taken. The Reporter criticized the peddling of religion at the Fair. "In the midst of the fevered huckstering at the 1964 New York World's Fair, religion has returned…competing hard with the other exhibitors in selling a unique product."122 "It is difficult to tell where the fair begins and religion leaves off," goes an article about opening day in the New York Times.123 Religion was a prominent exhibit at the Fair. But now it looked like Moses had religious war on his hands.

On the morning of June 7, when the Commissioner General of the Jordan Pavilion, Ghaleb Barakat, arrived at work, he noticed that the Jordanian flag flying atop the pavilion had been replaced by a blue and white flag reading "American Israel." The culprit, if found, was never made public, but the incident prompted Abdul Monem Rifa'I, Ambassador of Jordan to the UN to write to Francis Plimpton, Deputy Permanent Representative of the US Mission to the UN in order to "bring the case to the appropriate authorities." According to Rifa'I, besides the "hostile activities" of the mural protesters, several other incidents had occurred, including anonymous bomb threats. His letter clearly indicts "a certain group of citizens in New York," the American Jews, as the guilty parties in the recent occurrences, and with his letter brought the controversy over the mural into the international realm.124

On June 23 City Council released its resolution calling for the removal of the mural, "which acts as a daily and constant irritant and as a source of insult to millions of people in this City, State, Country and around the world."125 A week prior to this announcement, Dr. Mehdi met for an hour with the General Welfare Committee (which included six Jewish members) and said that Jews were offended by the mural "because of a sense of guilt."126 Dr. Mehdi's visit to Council seemingly caused more harm than good for his cause, and the adoption of the resolution passed unanimously.

Adding insult to injury, the American-Israel Pavilion unveiled a parody to the mural on their site. It included a blown-up picture of the mural, along with a new poem written by Chairman Caplin, entitled "Peace Through Understanding". Part of it reads: "We hail our neighbors here at this fair. We degrade them not and ask the same in return. And to one and all, pledge our hope for 'peace through understanding.'"127 The American-Israel Pavilion's new poem did not cause much of a stir, but Moses sent Lionel Harris, a member of the IAE who was assigned to the Jordan Pavilion, into the pavilion to inspect it for offensive items against Jordan. Harris reported that the entire pavilion was done in good taste and without hostility.128

The Fair Corporation President was under a lot of pressure by the June 22 Board of Directors meeting, as a division began to arise between the Board and Moses over the issue of the mural. Several members of the Board were hoping to discuss the controversy at this meeting, although the issue was deliberately left off the agenda. Congressman Seymour Halpern, a Board member, thought the issue deserved Board attention, and submitted a formal request for convoking a special meeting in early June. In his letter to Robert Moses, Congressman Halpern wrote:

I do not think that New York State would have incorporated the Fair nor New York City leased the site had it been known that this sort of display would be tolerated. I do not think that the people of New York would have consented to have the Fair in their midst if they were aware that it would become a vehicle not for encouraging global harmony but for perpetuating international conflict.

He cited a by-law stating that when a director is joined by four fellow members of the Board, they may call a meeting to act on a matter of importance. Moses got back at the Congressman, though. "Incidentally you are in error as to the number of directors who can call a meeting on their own motion," wrote Moses. "A recent amendment to the By-Laws requires 50 directors to initiate such a meeting."129

A very prominent member of the Board of Directors, New York Senator Kenneth B. Keating spoke at the dedication of the American-Israel Pavilion on "American Israeli Day" at the Fair, May 24, against Moses's will. In a letter to Keating's office, Moses said of the upcoming speech, "I strongly urge him not to rock the boat."130 At the dedication, Keating did not mention the Jordan Pavilion specifically, but spoke highly of the American-Israel Pavilion as one that "contrasts strongly with those who seek to hide the truth and obscure the realities of the Middle East."131

House of Representatives Chairman of the Committee on the Judiciary, Emanuel Celler was one of the first Directors to seek answers from Moses. In a letter from May, Congressman Celler wrote, "Were I to draw an analogy of a Soviet Union Pavilion on our fairgrounds bearing a message addressed to the Western World, 'We will bury you,' would you not agree that such statement of hostility would be out of place?...Even in the mildest of terms, such murals are, we must concede, offensive to the canons of good taste…" [Empahsis added]

State Senator Joseph Zaretzki, the minority leader, drafted a resolution to force the Jordan Pavilion to remove the inscription from the mural, which he tried to get on the Board agenda for June 22. Moses wouldn't allow it. At the meeting, the opposition to Moses came to a head. Liberal Party Vice-Chairman Alex Rose, who authored his own resolution urging the Fair to change its neutrality policy on the mural issue, was "gaveled down" by Moses when he tried to introduce his resolution. Moses ruled that due to the pending litigation in the courts by the ADL, the Board was in no position to discuss the matter. The Board erupted into shouts and gavel-pounding, and Senator Javits asked for a vote on the whether the debate should be closed or not. When Moses got his way 59 to 24, Senator Zaretzki brought up his resolution again. Moses ignored Senator Zaretzki, and began talking over him with other business until finally Zaretzki relented.132

The next day, Alex Rose publicly announced his resignation from the board. He argued that the mural was "sheer war propaganda" being presented to "unsuspecting viewers." "Little do they know," the letter said, "that instead of peace through understanding they are getting war through misunderstanding."133 Then Senator Zaretzki, in a television interview, called Moses a "despot", referred to him as "Boss Moses" and labeled the Board of Directors a "useless body."134

The Fair never officially commented on the Board proceedings and the resignation of Alex Rose, nor did it enforce the City Council resolution to remove the mural. The Fair issued a statement against the resolution, arguing that the Council was asking for the "suppression of free speech." The statement went on to say that the Fair has "no power" to order the removal of the mural.

Moses's arguments, however, were losing footing with all of the negative publicity about the Board of Directors meeting, the City Council resolution, and the lawsuits pending in State Supreme Court. On July 9, Moses gained a small victory when Justice George Postel dismissed the lawsuits against the Fair. His decision was based on the technicalities of the lease between the Fair Corporation and the City of New York, which did not give any rights to the city for the regulation of exhibits. This ruling nullified the City Council resolution. Additionally, according to the New York Times, Justice Postel also "rejected the fair's contention that a constitutional issue of censorship of a political message was involved." The judge admittedly sympathized with the plaintiffs, and regretted that "those in a position to cure or alleviate the sore are unable or unwilling to do so." Moses, triumphant, approved of the decision, which "fully upholds the position we have taken, which was based on principle."135 Just what principle that was, Moses never made clear.

Hostile Neighbors: The curving roof line of the Jordan pavilion (center) can clearly be seen in this view of the Fairgrounds from the Skyride . In the near-distance, behind the Jordan pavilion, can be seen the mahogany spiral with yellow roof of the American-Israel Pavilion.*
View of the Fair from the Skyride

Robert Moses had another reason to be happy during July of 1964. It was then that he,
Charles Poletti, and Lionel Harris were notified that they would be receiving the Al-Kokab, the Star of Jordan, First Class. The award they were to receive was the highest honor that the King of Jordan could bestow upon anyone. Harris reported to Poletti that the Jordan Consul in Washington "stressed the fact that…while the Jordanians are deeply grateful for our stand in the matter of the mural and for all our help in general, he wants us to understand that the award is an overall token of esteem, and is not directly tied to the mural controversy."
136 But Moses reflected several years later in an article, that "Jordan and Arab states were so astonished by the nonpolitical conduct of the fair heads," that he and the others received that award "for our contribution to understanding and friendship of nations at the World's Fair."137

These Fair administrators had a long and comfortable relationship with Jordan and its
King since early Fair planning stages. Jordan was the first Arab state to accept the Fair's invitation, on March 2, 1961. Moses visited Amman with a Fair delegation, and King Hussein likewise visited the Fair once before it opened, and also on April 23, 1964 when a luncheon in his honor was held at the Terrace Club at the Fair. (No head of Israel ever visited the Fair, though Levi Eshkol, Prime Minister canceled a scheduled visit for June 11 in protest of the mural.)
138

Moses had taken a particular interest in Jordan because of his experience as an urban planner. He had theories about water conservation, energy opportunities on the Jordan River, housing for refugees, and city development. Moses felt that his experience as a planner in New York City was enough for him to make judgments on the economic and political situation in Jordan, and with the start of his relationship with King Hussein, he really began to indulge in his theories. Long after the Fair, Moses continued coming up with plans for Jordan and tried to put together a committee to study development opportunities there. In 1971, Moses wrote an op-ed for the New York Times entitled "Harness the Jordan." In this piece, Moses urged the United States to take interest in Jordan for "multipurpose, regional power and reclamation and pave the way for industrial progress." (Moses discussed the mural controversy in this editorial by claiming that "fanatics" brought the case to court "to stir up trouble within the fair, in the city administration, among political leaders sensitive to racial and religious issues and among professional religionists.") In a 1977 letter Moses wrote to WNET Channel 13 in hopes of receiving its support for a committee on Jordan, he said

This problem is for engineers, not diplomats and politicians…With my Fair and engineering associates I became interested in a scientific engineering of the Jordan, Jordan River, Israel and the PLO dispute. It occurred to some of us that the King of Jordan might take the PLO into Jordan as a state within his nation based on sound, constructive engineering principals.

While Moses never got a committee of his sort to come about, it seemed that the Fair inspired him to think internationally about his once local positions. After the Fair, Moses went on to consult on urban planning issues all over the world.139

Moses's biographer, Robert Caro, had a different opinion about Moses's expansion of
scope. His poor relations with Israel after their official pavilion withdrew hurt Moses's Public image in the world outside New York. "The Fair destroyed Moses' reputation…because he had to have his own way about everything, even in a field in which he was the newest of newcomers. He could have his own way in New York, but in putting on a World's Fair, he had to deal with other states and countries - and his arrogance antagonized them."
140 Caro is not entirely correct regarding Moses and Israel. The mural issue was subdued in the Israeli press, and the major papers Ha'Aretz and Ha'Doar actually stressed that the complaints over the mural were giving the Jordan Pavilion extra publicity. Nearly all of the chastising towards Moses came from the local Yiddish Press and from American Jewish organizations.

But it was the antagonism of the people in his own country and city that gave Moses immediate concerns to deal with. The NAACP and CORE sued the fair for the right to hold protests, since many of their members had been arrested at the start of the Fair for organized "stall-ins" that were staged to attract attention to the Civil Rights movement in the US. Between Civil Rights protesters and mural protesters, the Queens Criminal Court had 200 cases by mid-June 1964. Judge Harold R. Tyler of the Federal Court ruled on July 1 that Fair protesters did have the right to distribute handbills, although not to picket in a way that would block roadways or paths. Since the twelve AJC picketers did not cause a disturbance in May, Judge Dubin of the Queens Criminal Court acquitted them all on July 29. In addition, he stressed that their right to picket in a public space was guaranteed under the First Amendment, since in 1963 the Legislature ruled that the Fair, a private corporation, was to be considered public property. Judge Dubin's ruling was a victory for the AJC, which was countersuing the Fair for the right to picket under the First Amendment. That suit was finally settled in April of 1965 in the State Supreme Court, just in time for the start of the 1965 season. The Fair agreed that the AJC could assign two members to distribute handbills from designated spots outside the Jordan Pavilion, a concession that the Fair could have easily made a year before to avoid the drama that instead took place.141

Sympathizers with the Jordan Pavilion were not pleased with the course of events. Dr. Mehdi again wrote to Moses asking for permission for CAAR members to picket the American-Israel Pavilion, as well as "the two people distributing leaflets" at the Jordan Pavilion. Before receiving this permission, CAAR sent two members to hand out leaflets in front of the American-Israel Pavilion which said "Don't buy Israel bonds, buy U.S. bonds." On April 30, some of the entertainers from the American-Israel Pavilion began to taunt them, and a fistfight broke out. Zechariahu Sitchin, President of the American-Israel Pavilion, expressed his disappointment that the fairgrounds should be turned into a "battleground."142

Workers at the American-Israel Pavilion continued to provoke the CAAR picketers, when on May 1 they arranged a lunch table for them near the entrance to the pavilion. "On the table were six bologna sandwiches and four bottles of Israeli beer," reported the New York Times. "Also on the table was a large sign saying: 'For your misguided pickets - kosher food, compliments of the American-Israel Pavilion.'"

The invitation to participate in the World's Fair was presented to the Prime Minister of Israel in January, 1961, by the World's Fair delegation to the Near East. Israel selected a site facing the main mall of the Fair.
(from left to right) Governor Charles Poletti; His Excellency David Ben Gurion, Premier of Israel; Dr. K. C. Li
 
Israel withdrew their official participation in the Fair in 1962.*
Poletti with Ben Gurion

Beyond those few incidents, picketing, and the controversy itself, surprisingly seemed
to fade from protesters' and the public's mind during the 1965 Fair season. Like nothing ever happened, the mural with its inscription remained. The only apparent effect of the controversial events was the slight deterrent of American Jews and Jewish organizations to attend the Fair. Some Rabbis opted to persuade their congregants to boycott the Fair, although the number of Jews who actually boycotted is unknown and thought to be rather slim. On the issue of censorship at the Fair, the situation also had little effect. The Fair continued to censor objectionable exhibits during and after the mural controversy. The only thing ever removed from the Jordan Pavilion, though, was an "unauthorized vending machine" in 1965.
143

© Copyright 2005 Sharyn Elise Jackson, All Rights Reserved.

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