Israeli UNICEF official resigns amid controversy

Judy Shalom Nir Mozes steps down after campaign launched against her over comments she made during Pillar of Defense.

UNICEF logo 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
UNICEF logo 370
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The initiator of the recently launched campaign against Judy Shalom Nir Mozes as Chairwoman of the Israeli branch of UNICEF, Ari Remez told the Jerusalem Post on Monday that “she was using the international position for her owns personal means.”
Shalom Nir Mozes decided to step down of her position at the UN’s organization for children’s rights last week.
She had been nominated to represent UNICEF in Israel two months ago and joined a sparkling list of celebrities who have been ambassadors of the organization in the past years including David Beckham, Sarah Jessica Parker, Shakira, Queen Rania of Jordan and even Kate and William of the British royal family.
But during Operation Pillar of Defense, Shalom Nir Mozes sparked controversy after posting a few statuses on Facebook in support of the Israeli government taking action in Gaza.
“There is nothing I value more than human life,” she wrote on November 12th, “How is it possible to make peace with people whose children are fed hatred towards Israel from the moment they are born? How is it possible to make peace with people who have it in their DNA to hate us? I am willing to make real peace at any price. The problem is that there is no partner. I wish I was wrong.”
Another post followed two days later where she wrote: “I very much hope that Bibi [PM Binyamin Netanyahu] will not surrender to the pressures of our enemies and continue the operation until the last terrorist is murdered in Gaza.”
After the statements, Remez, who is a theater director from Haifa, along with a group of his friends, launched a social media campaign against Shalom Nir Mozes as a representative of UNICEF.
“It didn’t seem appropriate for the representative of such an organization to say these things,” Remez told the Jerusalem Post on Monday, “Fulfilling an international position in an international organization such as this one and saying that you care only for your own children and two things that don’t work together.”
“You cannot use children's rights as a fashion accessory and she was exploiting a very just cause for her personal public relations needs,” he added.
Remez and his group sent multiple letters of complaint to UNICEF in Israel as well as to their headquarters in New York City, following which they received the following answer: “We have noted the personal comments and views by Judy Shalom Nir Mozes highlighted in a Facebook discussion thread and other media. These views do not represent the views of UNICEF.”
In the response, the organization also seemed to contradict the title that had been awarded to Shalom Nir Mozes by noting that her position is of “Honorary Chair of the Annual General Meeting” instead of the initial “Chairwoman.”
Remez addressed the retraction: “UNICEF was put in a position where they felt they needed to distance themselves from her.”
“The title of Chairwoman of UNICEF Israel shouldn’t have been a pb for anyone, this is damage she is responsible for,” he continued.
He added that he sees Shalom Nir Mozes’ case as representative of an Israeli tendency not to see “the big picture” and “only see themselves as victims.”
“I think Israelis should understand that if you want to be part of an international community, you need to work with their rules.”
Judy Shalom Nir Mozes, however, does not attribute her resignation to her public comments on the military operation in Gaza.
“I never talked badly about innocent citizens or children,” she made clear, “and I have no problem with writing that murderers in Gaza should be murdered.”
As she explained to the Post, the controversy around her statements only opened the way for her to “see what goes on backstage,” which led her to resign.
She explained that when she wanted to distribute toys for children in Sderot, the Israeli UNICEF told her that she would need to receive official permission from the East Jerusalem branch: “Gaza and East Jerusalem have their own UNICEF branches, I don’t think it is normal that I have to go through them to do something for Israeli children.”
After this occurrence, Shalom Nir Mozes also stated that she realized that “all over the world, we say UNICEF Pakistan, UNICEF America, UNICEF France, but here we don’t say UNICEF Israel. Here it is called ‘The Israeli fund for UNICEF’.”
“I don’t understand why UNICEF refuses to consider Israel as a country like any other,” she continued, “I thought the UN was an objective organization and that UNICEF is equally interested in kids all over the world but I came to the conclusion that to them, Israeli kids are second class citizens and I am very disappointed.”
Shalom Nir Mozes has returned to direct the NGO Hom, which combats child poverty in Israel, on a full-time basis. She has been involved with the organization for several years now.
She explained that while she cares for all children of the world, her priority and responsibility lies with Israeli kids.
“I believe my mission on this earth is to dedicate myself to the kids and I continue to help hungry children in Israel,” she stated.
“I feel that this was a missed opportunity, a failure, and I don’t like to fail but this issue of Israel's status needs to be addressed properly and I have already gotten in touch with the Israeli representative to the UN to see what can be done about this,” she continued.