The decision to place the exhibit at UNESCO in Paris is part of the Israeli government struggle against the Palestinian narrative denying any Jewish connection to Jerusalem; a narrative which many in Israel and around the world have accused UNESCO of abetting following the passing of a controversial UN resolution which conspicuously failed to make any mention of Jewish ties to the Temple Mount.
Israel's ambassador to UNESCO, Carmel Shama Hacohen, came to an agreement with UNESCO's Director-general, Irina Bokova, in which the exhibit will be presented in an official ceremony with ambassadors from all over the world.
Following consultation with the Israel Antiquities Authority, the Tender Committee of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs approved the project at a cost of NIS 45,000.
Initially, the statue was only meant to illustrate the seven-branched Menorah, but Hacohen decided to add the imagery showing Jewish slaves carrying the Menorah into exile to Rome. The statue will also include a written explanation in English, French, Hebrew and Arabic.
"The decision to place the scene from the Arch of Titus—which depicts Jews, the Menorah and other holy symbols following the destruction of the Second Temple going into exile—in UNESCO presents an objective, historical truth engraved in stone by a non-Jewish ruler 600 years before the appearance of Islam in the world," said Hacohen.
He added that "The exhibit and the statue are not meant to be a competition for Jerusalem or to hurt another religion's connection to their holy place. This is just an additional step in explaining the truth that we were expelled from the Temple Mount by force to the coalition of lies of the Palestinians and Arab countries who claim we were never there and have no holy connection."