With Anti-Israel Resolutions, UNESCO ‘Fiddling in the Chamber While the Middle East Burns,’ Jewish Human Rights Advocate Says
An official with a prominent US-based Jewish human rights group has criticized UNESCO over two anti-Israel resolutions set to be discussed on Wednesday by the global cultural body’s Executive Board.
“While ignoring the current poison gas attacks and constant massacres in neighboring Syria, the Turkish flagrant aggression on Syrian Kurds, Russian murderous attacks on Syrian civilians and the terror-training of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and Hezbollah threatened upon Israel, UNESCO serves as an alternative reality — fiddling in the chamber while the Middle East burns,” Dr. Shimon Samuels, director of international relations for the Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC), said on Tuesday.
The resolutions referred to by Samuels are agenda items 25 and 26 — titled “Occupied Palestine” and “Educational and Cultural Institutions in the Occupied Arab Territories.”
Last week, Israel’s UNESCO ambassador, Carmel Shama Hacohen, lambasted agenda item 25 — submitted by Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Qatar and Sudan — as “the most extreme and problematic text” ever considered by the body.
“Article 2 [of the resolution] brings through the backdoor all conceivable anti-Israel prior resolutions,” Samuels explained on Tuesday. “Article 4 on ‘Occupied Palestine’ endorses within this construct the Palestinization of Jerusalem, THE TWO PALESTINIAN SITES IN AL-KHALIL/Hebron and Bethlehem — an oblique de-judaization of the Cave of the Patriarchs and Rachel’s Tomb.”
Samuels added, however, that there was “perhaps a flicker of light in the darkness, those frustrated diplomats, predominantly from Latin America and the very few WEOG (Western European and Others Group) states, who, in the corridors, cajole their peers, their capitals and the UNESCO Secretariat to simply place the ‘Occupied Palestine’ resolutions at the bottom of the pile, thereby postponing the debate until the next session in October.”
“Annoyance at Palestinian fast-track[ing], monopolization and time-wasting, may one day — irregardless of Israel — bring back UNESCO to the important agenda for which it was created,” Samuels noted.
Last year, the US and Israel announced they would withdraw from UNESCO over its longstanding bias against the Jewish state. Those decisions will not take effect until later this year.