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November 10, 2017 2:48 pm

UNESCO Confirms French-Jewish Woman as New Leader

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Former French Minister of Culture Audrey Azoulay, UNESCO’s new director-general. Photo: UN / Manuel Elias. – Former French Minister of Culture Audrey Azoulay, who is Jewish, has been confirmed as the new director-general of the United Nations cultural body UNESCO.

Azoulay was raised in Morocco and France and is the daughter of André Azoulay, an adviser to Morocco’s King Mohammed VI. After she was elected last month, she vowed to refocus and strengthen UNESCO.

“In a time of crisis, we need more than ever to get involved [and] work to strengthen the organization,” she said.

Azoulay’s term comes at a contentious time for UNESCO, as the US and Israel have said they plan to withdraw from the organization over its anti-Israel bias and politicization, which they contend deviates from the agency’s stated mission to promote education, science and culture across the world.

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In July, UNESCO approved a resolution declaring Hebron’s Cave of the Patriarchs, where the biblical Jewish matriarchs and patriarchs are believed to be buried, as an endangered Palestinian heritage site. That resolution followed a measure in May denying Israel’s sovereignty over its capital of Jerusalem, and two resolutions in October 2016 that ignored Jewish and Christian connections to Jerusalem’s holy sites.

The World Jewish Congress (WJC) congratulated Azoulay and expressed hope that she would help end the “relentless bias and double standard against Israel” at UNESCO.

“We are hopeful that Ms. Azoulay will maximize her position to address the issues of concern for Israel and the Jewish world, and push for the reforms so deeply needed to return UNESCO to its core mandate of contributing to peace and security in the world by promoting collaboration among nations through education, science, culture and communication for the sake of justice, rule of law, and human rights and freedoms,” said Robert Singer, the WJC’s CEO.

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