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April 19, 2014 / 19 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘UNESCO’

UN Group Compares Boycott of Israeli Academics to Nazi Practice

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

Of all the surprising opponents of the boycott of Israeli academic institutions by the American Studies Association, perhaps the most surprising is one that has not yet received any attention.

A small but official organization of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) came out with an unabashedly strong criticism of the ASA boycott in one of the very first waves of condemnations.

And, unlike most of the university presidents’ condemnations, this one aimed its spear directly at, and through, the double standard towards the Jewish State, otherwise known as anti-Semitism, that really is the foundation upon which the boycott movement in general, and the ASA’s boycott in particular, rests.

The statement comes from the Board of Trustees of the American Unit of the International Network of the UNESCO Chair in Bioethics, also known as the American Bioethics Culture Institute.

This diverse board was created three years ago. Its purpose is “to explore and develop materials based upon an understanding of the psychology of clinical and ethical decision making under conditions of uncertainty when there is great moral and personal hazard.”

The statement was issued on Dec. 27, immediately after the ASA stated its boycott intentions.

These ethical pillars did not softly and safely mumble a mere no-vote. The statement expresses the views of the group directly, succinctly and without artifice, starting with being “appalled” by the boycott as “contrary to the fundamental principles of academic freedom.”  It continues:

In many of Israel’s academies, Israeli and Palestinian students of all ages continue to learn and study together. Rather than promoting peace, the ASA’s action promotes further isolation for all peoples in the region and negates the importance and vitality of academic discourse. Their action is to be condemned by all those advocating for stabilization and peace in the Middle East. While ASA may make the misleading claim that its actions are an exercise of academic freedom, in singling out Israeli academics for such a boycott, our Unit’s work indicated that this immoral boycott, though not intended, is far more akin to actions of prominent Nazi academics in the early 1930′s, such as those German physicians who took leadership positions in the Nazi party and singled out their Jewish colleagues for boycott and expulsion from academic life and professional societies.

There are critics who will reflexively leap to a particularly noxious standard response to defending Israel. That position dismissively claims that all criticism of Israel elicits a reference either to anti-Semitism or to the Holocaust. Its ridicule is meant to silence all such references, even when the comparison is apt.

How much more apt is the case here, where the authors of the statement are experts on bioethics in general, whose focus is making sure that marginalized groups are not subject to discrimination, whether in genetics or in academia.

One of the ABCI board members, Dr. Omar Sultan Haque, is the lead author of an academic analysis of why such a large percentage of German physicians entered the Nazi party.

Haque, a medical ethicist, physician and psychologist at Brown University Medical Center, is also on staff at Harvard Medical School. Haque, in responding to a query from The Jewish Press, said that “drawing an analogy between American academics and the German physicians is not too much of a stretch, as both suggest deep anti-Semitism.” He also believes it appropriate to apply a term to today’s academics that was coined by his colleague, Dr. Harold Bursztajn.

The term Bursztajn coined is “ethicogenesis,” and it means “the ability of human beings to rationalize even the most unethical behavior in the name of ‘ethics.’”

Bursztajn is the co-director of ABCI. He is a faculty member of Harvard Medical School and is the co-founder of the program on Law and Psychiatry at the School. A remarkably accomplished man, Bursztajn is closer to the issue of the Shoah than are his colleagues, because both his parents were resistance fighters in the Lodz Ghetto during World War II.

UNESCO: Postponing ‘Jewish Connection to Israel’ Exhibit to June

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014

A brouhaha broke out last week after UNESCO summarily canceled the opening of an exhibit it had long-promised to co-sponsor with the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

UNESCO’s reason for the last-minute cancellation was that it had been told by the Arab League that the exhibition might adversely impact the ongoing “peace process” negotiations intended to achieve peace between the Palestinian Arabs and Israel.

On Tuesday, Jan. 21 – the day after the scheduled opening – UNESCO posted a notice on its website:

Following numerous requests for information regarding the Exhibition, “People, Book, Land – The 3,500 Year Relationship of the Jewish People to the Holy Land,” UNESCO wishes to reaffirm that the exhibition has not been cancelled but postponed.

UNESCO is in discussions with the Simon Wiesenthal Center to finalize the last points and inaugurate the exhibition in the month of June.

Really?

This announcement might lead one to think that the exhibit wasn’t quite ready.  You certainly would not know, although it is true, that at the time of the original “postponement,” the exhibition materials had already been hung on the walls, thousands of invitations had been sent out, and people were already arriving in Paris in anticipation of the opening event at UNESCO’s headquarters.

This is what actually went down:

Last Tuesday, Jan. 14, the director-general of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) sent a letter to the Simon Wiesenthal Center that despite having agreed two years ago to co-sponsor an educational exhibition, which was vetted by UNESCO-sponsored academics, about the relationship between the Jews and the Holy Land, UNESCO was summarily cancelling the exhibition opening, scheduled for the following Monday, Jan. 20.

Two years in the planning? Two years of paying academics, gathering materials, flying internationally acclaimed historians and other experts in and out, restoring the materials so that they could be displayed. But on the very day that the very first peep was heard from the Arab League, and on the basis of the League’s position – without any room for discussion, negotiation or representation – the exhibit was cancelled.

The leaders of the Wiesenthal Center, dean and founder Rabbi Marvin Hier, and associate dean Rabbi Abraham Cooper, immediately dashed off a letter to Irina Bokova, UNESCO’s director-general.

They started out reminding the good madam that the SWC had followed every request and condition laid down by UNESCO in order to ensure a smooth process and a successful event. Then they reminded her that she was the one who put her own signature on the agreement to launch the joint undertaking. And then they told her what they expected of her:

we insist that you live up to your responsibilities and commitments as the co-organizer of this exhibition by overturning this naked political move that has no place in an institution whose mandate is defined by education, science, and culture — not politics. Failure to do so would confirm to the world that UNESCO is the official address of the Arab narrative of the Middle East.

Rabbi Cooper spoke with The Jewish Press on Thursday, Jan. 16. In Cooper’s view, the exhibition was not pulled because of the content. It is a purely historical body of work. And if there are critics out there who cannot believe the SWC could be trusted to ensure absolute honesty and partiality about the topic, surely the UNESCO-appointed academics made sure that was the case.

“No, pulling the exhibition had nothing to do with the content, it was simply the very idea – truth or not – that Jews have had a 3,500 years long relationship with the Holy Land” that the Arab League could not permit and the League’s displeasure was not something UNESCO could abide for even a single day.

‘Highest Levels’ of US Administration Deny Jewish History

Sunday, January 19th, 2014

I’ve been complaining about the Obama Administration a lot recently, particularly about its insistence on Israeli concessions to the PLO for an impossible peace deal, and for its enabling Iran’s nuclear program. But even more shocking — because it puts the administration’s ideological opposition to the very foundation of the Jewish state on display — is this:

UNESCO, the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization, has pulled a Jewish exhibit two years in the making, entitled “People, Book, Land – The 3,500 Year Relationship of the Jewish People and the Land of Israel,” after a zero hour protest from the Arab League, The Algemeiner has learned.

The exhibit, which was created by Los Angeles-based Jewish human rights group the Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC) together with UNESCO, was scheduled to open on January 20th, 2014, at UNESCO’s Paris headquarters. The invitations had already gone out, and the fully prepared exhibition material was already in place. The display was co-sponsored by Israel, Canada and Montenegro.

It is not surprising that the Arab League is opposed to anything that suggests that Jewish sovereignty in the Middle East has any legitimacy. But the stunning part is that prior to the Arab League’s objection, the State Department withdrew the US as a sponsor of the exhibition, using language almost identical to that of the Arab League! Here is the US position:

“At this sensitive juncture in the ongoing Middle East peace process, and after thoughtful consideration with review at the highest levels, we have made the decision that the United States will not be able to co-sponsor the current exhibit during its display at UNESCO headquarters,” wrote Kelly O. Siekman, Director at the Office of UNESCO Affairs of the State Department, in an email seen by The Algemeiner.

J. E. Dyer writes,

What’s so damaging to the peace process … about a Jewish history exhibit?  According to the Arab League, it’s the evidence it would present of the Jewish people’s long association with the land of Israel.  The campaign to suppress that evidence is a new lie, dating only to about the 1960s as a coherent political endeavor.  It started with Yasser Arafat and other Arab politicians, and continues today with such grotesqueries as the assertion – made on occasion by Mahmoud Abbas – that “Jesus was a Palestinian.”

The appalling thing, however, is that the U.S. government is throwing in with this campaign, by tacitly agreeing that the historical truth about the Jews and Israel is inimical to “peace.” [my emphasis]

‘Appalling’ is too kind. I prefer ‘disgraceful’.

Could there be a clearer demonstration of the anti-Zionist, indeed anti-Jewish attitudes of the State Department — and indeed, since the decision was taken after “review at the highest levels,” the President?

Visit Fresno Zionism.

US: ‘UNESCO’s Decision Is Wrong and Should Be Reversed’

Saturday, January 18th, 2014

The Obama administration is “deeply disappointed” with a decision by UNESCO, the United Nation’s cultural arm, to cancel the opening of an exhibition on the Jewish presence in the land of Israel and is seeking its placement “as soon as possible.”

Complaints by Arab states led UNESCO to cancel the exhibition, organized by the Simon Wiesenthal Center along with the governments of Canada and Montenegro. It was scheduled to open Jan. 20 at the Paris headquarters of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power urged UNESCO to rethink the decision on the exhibition.

“UNESCO’s decision is wrong and should be reversed,” she said in a statement. “The United States has engaged at senior levels to urge UNESCO to allow this exhibit to proceed as soon as possible.”

“UNESCO is supposed to be fostering discussion and interaction between civil society and member states, and organizations such as the Wiesenthal Center have a right to be heard and to contribute to UNESCO’s mission,” Power said.

“The United States is deeply disappointed and has engaged with senior levels at UNESCO to confirm that the action to postpone does not represent a cancellation and to underscore our interest in seeing the exhibit proceed as soon as possible,” a State Department official told JTA on Friday. “We trust that UNESCO will approach this issue fairly and in a manner consistent with the organization’s guidelines and past precedent.”

UNESCO director-general Irina Bokova said Wednesday in a letter to the Simon Wiesenthal Center that the exhibit, titled “The People, the Book, the Land — 3,500 years of ties between the Jewish people and the Land of Israel,” would be postponed indefinitely. She said the decision arose out of UNESCO’s support for peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

“We have a responsibility in ensuring that current efforts in this regard are not endangered,” she wrote.

The cancellation followed a letter sent to Bokova on Jan. 14 by the Arab group at UNESCO. “The Arab group is deeply disturbed by the exhibition, which it condemns,” said the letter from the group’s president, Abdullah Elmealmi.

“This cause is championed by those who oppose peace efforts,” Elmealmi said. “The media campaign accompanying the exhibition will inevitably damage the peace talks, the incessant efforts of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and UNESCO’s neutrality.”

The State Department official said the exhibition comported with UNESCO’s mission of cultural preservation and education. “UNESCO was designed to foster just this kind of discussion and interaction between civil society and member states and the United States firmly supports the right of civil society in member states such as the Wiesenthal Center to be heard and to contribute to UNESCO’s mission,” the official said.

In an email, the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s director of international affairs, Shimon Samuels, wrote that the center was outraged by Bokova’s decision. He called for an email campaign opposing cancellation.

The U.S. and Israel’s position within UNESCO has been weakened last November, when the U.N. organization suspended their voting rights, two years after both countries stopped paying dues, because UNESCO had granted full membership to the Palestinians.

The White House has since been urging the U.S. Congress to resume paying dues in order to regain its vote.

JTA content was used in this report

UNESCO Cancels Israel Expo following Arab Pressure

Friday, January 17th, 2014

Complaints by Arab states led the United Nation’s cultural arm, UNESCO, to cancel the opening of an exhibition on the Jewish presence in the land of Israel.

The exhibition, organized by the Simon Wiesenthal Center along with the governments of Canada and Montenegro, was scheduled to open Jan. 20 at the Paris headquarters of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

UNESCO director-general Irina Bokova on Wednesday said in a letter to the Simon Wiesenthal Center that the exhibit, titled “The People, the Book, the Land — 3,500 years of ties between the Jewish people and the Land of Israel,” would be postponed indefinitely. She said the decision arose out of UNESCO’s support for peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

“We have a responsibility in ensuring that current efforts in this regard are not endangered,” she wrote.

The cancellation followed a letter sent to Bokova on Jan. 14 by the Arab group at UNESCO, which admitted the Palestinian Authority as a member in 2011. “The Arab group is deeply disturbed by the exhibition, which it condemns,” said the letter by the Arab group’s president, Abdullah Elmealmi.

“This cause is championed by those who oppose peace efforts,” Elmealmi said. “The media campaign accompanying the exhibition will inevitably damage the peace talks, the incessant efforts of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and UNESCO’s neutrality.”

In an email, the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s director of international affairs, Shimon Samuels, wrote that the center was outraged by Bokova’s decision. He called for an email campaign opposing cancellation.

Council of Europe to Support of Ritual Circumcision

Sunday, December 22nd, 2013

Encouraged by Israeli diplomats, parliamentarians from the Council of Europe have submitted a motion opposing an earlier resolution condemning ritual circumcision of boys.

The motion was submitted last week by 101 members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the council, according to Micaela Catalano, a spokeswoman for the assembly, which has 318 parliamentarians and whose resolutions are non-binding.

Israeli diplomats told JTA they initiated the process that led to the motion’s submission.

The Council of Europe is an intergovernmental organization that encourages dialogue and is not connected to the European Union.

The new motion calls Jewish and Muslim circumcision of boys “a religious rite which does not present risks for children and should be respected as a longstanding religious tradition.”

Titled “Freedom of religion and religious practices,” the December 11 motion urges the assembly to make recommendations on tolerance of religious practices. It also mentions an earlier, anti-circumcision resolution that the assembly passed in October.

Titled “Children’s Right to Physical Integrity,” the October resolution calls non-medical circumcision of boys a “violation of the physical integrity of children.” In an unusual move, Israel’s Foreign Ministry had condemned that resolution, warning it was helping to foster hate.

Nimrod Barkan, Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, or UNESCO, told JTA that the Israeli Foreign Ministry, through its missions around the world, had campaigned over the last two months to collect signatures of council parliamentarians opposing the October resolution. That resolution had passed thanks to 78 assembly members out of the 91 who participated in that vote.

The assembly’s bureau will decide next month whether to follow up on the new motion by compiling a report on religious freedoms or to take no further action, Catalano, the assembly spokeswoman, told JTA. If a report is compiled, the assembly will vote on whether to adopt its resolutions.

Resolutions passed by the assembly cannot be revised, but new ones may be passed, she added.

UNESCO Suspends US, Israel Voting Rights over Palestinian Admission

Sunday, November 10th, 2013

The United Nations’ cultural body suspended the voting rights of the United States and Israel two years after they stopped paying dues in protest over its granting full membership to the Palestinians.

Both countries missed a Friday deadline to provide an official justification of non-payment and a plan to pay back the missed dues to the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, a source told Reuters. The source said that failure automatically triggered the suspension of voting rights.

As of the Friday morning deadline, “nothing was received from the United States,” the source said. Two separate diplomatic sources also confirmed the deadline had been missed, triggering the suspension of voting rights.

The withdrawal of U.S. funding — which to date amounts to about $240 million, or some 22 percent of UNESCO’s budget — has plunged the organization into a financial crisis, forcing it to cut programs and slash spending, Reuters reported.

The United States has characterized UNESCO’s move as a misguided attempt to bypass the two-decade old peace process. Washington says only a resumption of peace talks ending in a treaty with Israel can result in Palestinian statehood.

PA Mourns Failure to Take over Rachel’s Tomb as Muslim Holy Site

Tuesday, October 15th, 2013

Tens of thousands of Jews are visiting Rachel’s Tomb Tuesday, the anniversary of her death as described in the Torah, to pray for Rachel to cry for them that their prayers be answered.

No tears need be shed for the Palestinian Authority, which can mourn for itself for not being able to hoodwink the world to believe Rachel’s Tomb is a Muslim holy site.

The Torah states in Genesis (B’reisheit’), “And Rachel died, and was buried on the way to Efrat, which is Bethlehem. And Jacob set a pillar upon her grave: that is the pillar of Rachel’s grave unto this day.”

Before the Palestinian Authority campaign to rewrite the Bible and ancient history, Muslim authorities for centuries had acknowledged that Rachel’s Tomb is Jewish.

Excited by their blood-letting suicide bombings, firebomb and shooting attacks on Jews in the 1990s, the Palestinian Authority suddenly stopped referring to the site as “Rachel’s Dome” and called it the Mosque of Bilal ibn Rabah.

The manufactured tradition became more popular as Muslim clerics in the Arab world pounded the pulpit that the binding of Isaac (Yitzchak) actually is the binding of Ishmael, that the Holy Temples never existed and that the Western Wall really was the hitching post for the Muslim prophet Mohammed’s horse, may his and it memories be forgotten.

More amazing than the fibs that the Palestinian Authority invented was the acceptance of them by the anti-Israel crowd, especially  UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization). Last year won UNESCO support that the ancient site also belongs to Muslims even though the Tomb, “Kever Rochel” in Hebrew, existed long before Islam came into existence.

In December 2012, UNESCO director Irina Bokova accepted the view of its chief critic of Israel, Robert Serry, who also serves as UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process. He warned that Israel’s defining Rachel’s Tomb and the Patriarchs’ Cave in Hevron as holy sites would be bad for the sacred ghost known as the peace process.

UNESCO said Rachel’s Tomb also belongs to Christians and Muslim, which at one time built over the Tomb. That is like saying that JFK airport is a Jewish site because there is a synagogue there.

Two years before UNESCO’s sentence to the Jewish site, Palestinian Authority  chairman Mahmoud Abbas warned that there would be a “holy war” over Rachel’s Tomb if Israel did not accept the Muslim claim that that is was an ancient mosque.

Iran went one step further  with its foreign ministry declaring that Israel’s decision to make Rachel’s Tomb a national heritage site “rises from the regime’s strategy for cleaning all the sanctities of the Muslims and Christians in the occupied Palestine to give them a Zionist identity.”

The Palestinian Authority succeeded 13 years ago in taking over Joseph’s Tomb in Shechem, a direct violation of the Oslo Accords, but the efforts of Jewish leaders in the Shomron (Samaria) the past two years have enabled Jews to worship there under IDF guard.

The Oslo Accords interim agreement in 1995 states that security arrangements must “ensure free, unimpeded and secure access to the relevant Jewish holy sites.”

The Palestinian Authority has no problem with that. All it has to do is drive out the Jews with terrorist attacks and then convince UNESCO that Rachel’s Tomb is not a Jewish holy site.

That is the impetus for the Palestinian Authority to call Kever Rachel the  Bilal ibn Rabah mosque.

Jews traveling to pray at Rachel’s Tomb on her yahrzheit Tuesday can thank none other than former Haredi Knesset Member Menachem Porush that they are able to do so.

During the height of the Oslo mirage in 1995, Chief Rabbi Israel Meir Lau and MK Porush appealed to Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin not to go through with his plan to turn Rachel’s Tomb over to the Palestinian Authority.

Rabbi Lau told the Prime Minister, “One does not part from one’s mother, and MK Porush broke down in tears, crying on Rabin’s shoulders.

Rabin surrendered, and today, the Palestinian Authority can mourn to Mohammed that truth has triumphed over at least one of its lies.

Thousands of Jews at Rachel's tomb on the even of the anniversary of her death.

Thousands of Jews at Rachel’s tomb on the even of the anniversary of her death.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/pa-mourns-failure-to-take-over-rachels-tomb-as-muslim-holy-site/2013/10/15/

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