US Jewish Group Calls on UNESCO to Reconsider Honor of Iraqi Musician as ‘Artist of Peace’ Due to ‘Belligerent’ Anti-Israel Statements
A leading US-based Jewish human rights group is calling on UNESCO to reconsider its recent naming of Iraqi musician Naseer Shamma as an “Artist for Peace” due to “belligerent” statements he has made about Israel.
“If the award was granted based upon an incomplete enquiry to substantiate his merit, UNESCO must strip this hypocritical warmonger of his undeserved ‘Artist For Peace’ award,” Dr. Shimon Samuels — the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s director for international relations — said in a letter to UNESCO Assistant Director-General For Culture Francesco Bandarin.
After a picture was published last month of Shamma shaking hands with Israel’s UNESCO envoy Carmel Shama-Hacohen, the Iraqi issued a statement on Facebook, in which he emphasized that he did not know the Israeli’s identity when the encounter took place.
In October 2014, according to the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Shamma said during an Egyptian television appearance, “Even if the occupied territories are returned (to the Palestinians) I will never normalize (with Israel) till the last day of my life, I am against this usurping entity.”
Shamma, UNESCO said, was honored as an “Artist for Peace” in recognition of his “commitment to support the musical education of young people in Iraq and beyond, his unfailing efforts to promote the message of peace through his performances and his dedication to the universal ideals and aims of the organization.”
In his letter to UNESCO, Samuels said, “The appointment of Naseer Shamma to this prestigious status only diminishes the value of the award.”