50 Influential Jews: André and Audrey Azoulay - No. 30

André Azoulay advises Morocco's King Mohammed VI and has been dubbed "the most powerful Jew in the Muslim world." His daughter Audrey is a driving force as head of UNESCO.

 UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay and adviser to the king of Morocco André Azoulay. (photo credit: Courtesy, MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay and adviser to the king of Morocco André Azoulay.
(photo credit: Courtesy, MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

In a strong two-generation pairing, André Azoulay and his daughter Audrey Azoulay have been driving forces in global politics.

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Dubbed “the most powerful Jew in the Muslim world,” André has been a close personal adviser to Moroccan King Mohammed VI and to his father, King Hassan II, since 1991. He has also been the head and founder of global cultural institutions and has been heavily involved behind the scenes in promoting peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors, including the Palestinians. He has also promoted cross-cultural dialogue between Jews and Muslims.

Morocco, whose Jewish community dates back over 2,000 years, has long had informal ties with Israel and normalized its relationship with the country in 2020 as part of the US-backed Abraham Accords. 

In an interview in 2012 with the Anna Lindh Foundation, André said, “I am very comfortable as a Moroccan Jew because I belonged to a community that arrived in Morocco close to 1,000 years before Islam and the Arab civilization.”  

On September 6, he was a recipient of Israel’s Presidential Medal of Honor. President Isaac Herzog’s office stated, “André has made an extraordinary contribution to Moroccan Jewry, the Jewish world, and the State of Israel, in cultivating and preserving relations with Morocco over the years, preserving Jewish heritage in Morocco and providing support and advice to Israeli leaders in their quest for peace in the Middle East. His vision of establishing friendly and peaceful relations between Israel and Morocco was realized in the Abraham Accords, and his influence is evident in every area of these relations.”

Audrey Azoulay

Andre’s daughter Audrey, a former French minister of culture, rose to international prominence in 2017 when she became director-general of the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization at a time when it had become known for its highly politicized pro-Palestinian and anti-Israeli resolutions. 

Chief among them was one that serially came before UNESCO’s Executive Committee, which ignored Jewish ties to the Temple Mount, referring to it only by its Muslim name of al-Haram al-Sharif. Azoulay mostly neutralized that and other resolutions.

Through her leadership, UNESCO has also taken a strong stand against antisemitism and Holocaust denial. In the last year, UNESCO partnered with the World Jewish Congress to develop online resources for Holocaust education used by Meta and TikTok. Together with the American Jewish Committee and the American Federation of Teachers, it launched online training courses. Separately, it is working with the European Commission to train teachers in 12 European states to combat antisemitism.

“Antisemitism is an attack on our shared humanity. It must be confronted head-on, without naivety and with perseverance,” Azoulay said when she launched the US program. UNESCO is proud “to raise young people’s awareness of the nature and impact of this toxic hate speech and ideology that drive discrimination.”