UNESCO is more about promoting terrorism than education

What does the Palestinian admission into UNESCO say about the nature of the UN and its organizations? Does the UN hold any more credibility and what can the major powers of the world do to form a better union of nations?

Palestinian UNESCO reps 311 R (photo credit: REUTERS/Benoit Tessier)
Palestinian UNESCO reps 311 R
(photo credit: REUTERS/Benoit Tessier)
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) could do its job far more effectively by shelving the politics and devoting itself entirely to the task of solving the world's educational, scientific and cultural needs,- especially in the developing world. Unfortunately, UNESCO has undermined its own authority and sullied its reputation by becoming too involved in petty politics and disregarding its stated mission.
Despite the fact that the UN has entrusted the task of admitting new member nations to the Security Council, UNESCO has undermined the agency of the UN and overridden its own rules by voting overwhelmingly in favor of admitting Palestine as a full member state. While some of the great powers who are members of the Security Council, voted for the resolution, its perennially reticent Secretary General, should not have abstained from alerting the world to this abuse of power.
While there may be nothing intrinsically wrong with accepting another emerging nation into the ranks of UNESCO, the rules should nonetheless be respected. In addition, the circumstances surrounding the Palestinian request—including their intentions—must be thoroughly examined. Here we have a situation where, while the Security Council is still considering the Palestinian request to join the UN, the PA is simultaneously trying to force its way through the back door – thereby not giving a chance to those in charge of the main gate to pronounce their verdict.
Ironically, the acceptance of the Palestinians into UNESCO occurred on the same day that some 30 missiles from Gaza were launched onto cities in southern Israel, preventing more than 200,000 Israeli students from attending class. Not exactly the best method for promoting education – one of UNESCOs chief goals.
So what conclusion will the Arabs arrive at? They may believe that the more they use terror to harm UNESCO's goals–of which they are among the neediest customers—the more they will be able to achieve on a political front within the international arena.
The US, whose money comprises a large portion of UNESCO’s budget, actually needs UNESCOs services far less than other beneficiaries. Furthermore, the US, which is bound by congressional law, has cut its aid which means that many of those who applauded the Palestinians' unorthodox acceptance into UNESCO will be the first to suffer. Worse still, a weakened and impoverished UNESCO runs the risk of sinking deeper into its own politicization, and could even herald a departure from the UN by other western democracies.
This would necessitate the creation of an alternative organization, one that would hopefully not allow anti-Semitic blood libels to be hurled at its members with impunity, for example. An organization in which countries like Libya would never be permitted to serve as Chairman of the Human Rights Commission.and countries like Iraq would not be accepted to serve in the Commission of Disarmament.
Let's digress for a moment: Until 1996, Arabs in Bethlehem referred to Rachel’s Tomb at the gates of the city as such, and even recognized it as a Jewish holy site. Yet at the height of the terror offensive known as the Aqsa Intifadah, the Palestinians made the decision to change its name to the Bilal Ibn-Rabah mosque, Ibn-Rabah was an African slave and Muhammad’s muezzin, reputed to have fallen during battle in Syria.
In July 2000 at Camp David, Yasser Arafat insisted to former president Bill Clinton that no Jewish temple ever existed. This has now become an official PA mantra. PA headliner cleric Sheikh Taissir Tamimi proclaims repeatedly that “Jerusalem has always only been Arab and Islamic.” The Cave of the Patriarchs, he declared, “is a pure mosque, which Jewish presence defiles. Jews have no right to pray there, much less claim any bond to Hebron, an Arab city for 5,000 years. All Palestine is holy Muslim soil. Jews are foreign interlopers.”
Stunningly, only last year UNESCO voted to recognize the Rachel Tomb as a Muslim holy site. That Arabs and Muslims should aspire to expand their spiritual domain, as they do in Europe, is understandable to those of us who follow long traditions. .But that European and other Christian countries, who are party to the Judeo-Christian tradition, should yield to cultural blackmail and forego their own culture in order to provide for a current political trend of accommodating Muslims (which often goes hand in hand with an aversion to the Jewish State), does not augur well for the future of the UN and its appendices, as evidenced by the latest skewed UNESCO vote.

The writer is a professor of Islamic, Middle Eastern and Chinese history at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a member of the steering committee of the Ariel Center for Policy Research.