Barak Calls on Arabs to Stop Interference with Disney Exhibit

July 7, 2008 - 8:02 PM

Jerusalem ( - Israeli Prime Minister and Defense Minister Ehud Barak spoke out angrily Friday against Arab interference in Israel's soon to open exhibit at Disney World's Epcot Center. The exhibit reportedly presents Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

Barak said he "views gravely the attempt to impose a boycott on the display of Jerusalem at Disney and to influence companies financially by means of threats and dictates."

The new Millennium Village, due to open October 1, at the Epcot Center in Orlando, Florida features exhibits from a variety of countries. Israel's display, according to the Israeli Foreign Ministry, contains a historical program, "a ride" entitled "A Journey to Jerusalem" which highlights the significance of Jerusalem as a Holy City to Jews, Christians and Moslems.

"Attempts to hurt the standing of Israel and Jerusalem as her united capital have failed in the past and will fail in the future," a statement from the Prime Minister's office said.

Disney is scheduled to meet with an Muslim and Arab delegation Friday.

Ten days ago Bill Warren, Walt Disney World Resorts spokesman, told that Disney has an agreement with its clients not to reveal the content of an exhibit before it opens. But mounting pressure from Arab States forced Disney to show the video presentation to a delegation.

Today, the spokesman's office at Walt Disney World headquarters in Orlando, Florida declined to comment but told a statement would be forthcoming later today.

American Jewish groups and the Anti-Defamation League said they have also been angered by Arab threats against Disney and are concerned that Disney might give in to the pressure.

"We trust that Disney will continue to display the exhibit despite pressure from American-Arab and American-Moslem groups," the ADL wrote in a letter to Disney. "These groups are seeking to politicize Israel's involvement in Disney's millennium celebration."

Earlier in the week, Israel's Foreign Ministry Director-General Eytan Bentsur wrote to the Chairman of Disney International, Michael Eisner, expressing "Israel's certitude" a statement said, "that the Israeli pavilion at the Epcot Millennium Village...will be presented in full." The letter also expressed the belief that Disney would not "surrender to political pressure directed against any country."

The controversy when Arab- and Muslim-American organizations protested to Disney about Israel's exhibit sparking a protest by Arab nations and Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat, who asked the Arab League to discuss the matter at a recent meeting.