Earlier this week, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) announced with a great deal of fanfare that the United States has decided to rejoin the group next month.
In a press release issued on June 12, UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay boasted that she “led the mediations that made it possible to reduce political tensions and find consensus on the most sensitive topics, such as the Middle East,” thereby paving the way for Washington’s return.
And so, just four and a half years after America pulled out, due in part to UNESCO’s stridently unbalanced anti-Israel positions, the Biden administration has now shamefully chosen to return to this appalling club.
UNESCO passes more scandalous anti-Israel resolutions
What is particularly galling about this move is that just last month, UNESCO once again passed a series of scandalous anti-Israel resolutions at the 216th session of its executive board in Paris, which was held from May 10 to 24.
Take, for example, Item 33 of the UNESCO board’s agenda, which is titled “Occupied Palestine” and reads like it was formulated by the worst of Israel’s foes.
In a subsection about Jerusalem, the Jewish state is described as the “Occupying Power” over the city, and the board’s members declare that Israel’s Basic Law on Jerusalem, which established the city as our united capital, is “null and void and must be rescinded forthwith.”
Another subsection declares that both Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem and the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron, where the patriarchs and matriarchs of the Jewish people are buried, are “Palestinian sites” which are under Israeli occupation.
This is so patently offensive and insulting to Jewish belief that it borders on outright antisemitism.
Denying the Jewishness of our ancestors is nothing less than a direct assault on the very foundations of the Jewish people, and UNESCO deserves to be shunned for it, not embraced.
Regarding Gaza, the UNESCO board criticized “Israeli army violations” in the area, while failing to mention Hamas and Islamic Jihad or their habit of firing thousands of rockets at Israeli civilians. And it also bemoaned the situation on the “Occupied Syrian Golan.”
If this is what UNESCO’s director-general had in mind when she said that she had managed to “reduce political tensions and find consensus on the most sensitive topics, such as the Middle East,” then I would hate to see what a flare-up might look like.
THE FACT of the matter is that UNESCO and its obscene anti-Israel bias has not changed one whit.
As the Palestinian news agency WAFA gleefully reported on May 19, “For the first time, a symposium marking the 75th anniversary of the Nakba was hosted at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO’s) Headquarters in Paris.”
In other words, an organization ostensibly devoted to promoting the benefits of knowledge and culture instead played host to an event mourning the establishment of the State of Israel.
These outrageous positions are in line with UNESCO’s long-standing hostility toward Jewish history and memory.
In 2016, UNESCO sought to expunge the Jewish identity of the Temple Mount by affirming a resolution labeling the site a Muslim shrine, thereby ignoring evidence dating back 3,000 years regarding its sanctity for the Jewish people.
That is akin to suggesting that Rome has no historical connection with the Colosseum, Athens has no claim to the Parthenon, and New York has no link to Madison Square Garden.
The ostensible reason given by Washington for its decision to rejoin UNESCO is the need to counter what is said to be China’s growing influence in the organization.
But this doesn’t stack up.
If one of the reasons the US left in the first place was its inability to steer UNESCO’s policies, why is there any reason to think that will be different now?
Moreover, by agreeing to pay up over $600 million in arrears to the organization without apparently getting much in return, Washington has squandered an opportunity to force real change.
This is nothing less than Joe Biden’s UNESCO fiasco, one that displays weakness rather than leadership.
Bringing America back into the group will only serve to bolster UNESCO’s standing, which is something it truly does not deserve.
This may be “a historic moment for UNESCO,” as its director-general declared this week, but for anyone who cares about truth, justice and fairness, it is a sad day indeed.
The writer served as deputy communications director under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during his first term of office.