It is no secret UNESCO has come out with some ludicrous decisions when it comes to Israeli sites. But UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova has actually been on the right side of history.
Unfortunately, she is about to be replaced.
Intense diplomatic wrangling has marked the race among seven candidates to become the next director general of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. Arab countries have long wanted to lead the organization, though divisions over Palestinian membership have complicated their push.
Voting by UNESCO’s 58-member executive board starts Monday and continues through the week until a candidate wins a majority. The choice then goes to the full UNESCO general assembly next month for final approval.
Leading candidates include Qian Tang of China, former Egyptian government minister Moushira Khattab and Qatar’s former Culture Minister Hamad bin Abdulaziz Al-Kawari.
So what about the candidates?
Hamad bin Abdulaziz Al-Kawari would be a disaster:
UNESCO should reject the candidacy of former Qatari minister of culture Hamad bin Abdulaziz Al-Kawari for its director- general, Simon Wiesenthal Center’s European Office has said.
On Friday, Shimon Samuels, international relations director at the Wiesenthal Center, wrote to UNESCO’s Executive Board chairman Michael Worbs, saying that when Al-Kawari was culture minister, Qatar sold texts at the Frankfurt Book fair that “fomented” conspiracy theories against Jews.
“Mr. Chairperson, he who apparently endorses the language of [the Nazi minister of propaganda Joseph] Goebbels must not head the intellectual arm of the United Nations. We expect you to advise the Executive Board accordingly,” said Samuels.
He added that Qatar supported UN resolutions on Jerusalem that ignored Jewish ties to the Temple Mount and the Western Wall.
Moushira Khattab might not be as bad as you think:
Egypt and Africa’s nominee for the UNESCO Director General post, Moushira Khattab, said that the organization pays a heavy tax by politicization, while it is a U.N. agency for education, heritage and science.
“UNESCO should leave politics to the United Nations, but we will not go back in terms of the decisions taken,” Khattab stated in an interview with the French Le Point Magazine.
Khattab noted that she looks forward to building consensus among countries to move forward together, and she hopes that the U.N. will work in the health and education sectors in Palestine like anywhere else.
She praised the good cooperation between Palestinians and Israelis in UNESCO programs.
“It is clear that we will not politicize the organization in a few days, but we can help in gradually restoring confidence in UNESCO,” she said. “We have to be close to people in our mission.”
She stressed that the world is suffering from extremism and terrorism, and that UNESCO alone is capable of defeating them, because terrorism will not be eliminated by weapons, but by education.
But Israel’s choice seems to be Qian Tang.
The other candidate Israel had considered supporting is China’s Qian Tang, who has been assistant director general for education at UNESCO in recent years. Jerusalem considers him a man who wants to bring UNESCO back to its professional activities, and distance it as much as possible from political issues.
Not that I expect it to make too much of a difference. While the world’s scum and villainy have the votes that matter, expect the same ol’ same ol’.