U.S. to pull out of UNESCO, claiming agency has anti-Israel bias

UNESCO logoU.S. officials have told the Associated Press that the United States is pulling out of UNESCO, after repeated criticism of resolutions by the U.N. cultural agency that the Trump administration sees as anti-Israel.

The U.S. stopped funding UNESCO after the agency voted to include the Palestinian Authority as a member in 2011, but the State Department has maintained a UNESCO office at the agency’s Paris headquarters and sought to weigh in on policy behind the scenes.

The withdrawal was confirmed Thursday by U.S. officials speaking on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to be publicly named discussing the decision. It comes as UNESCO is voting to choose a new director.

Senior American officials, including U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, have issued repeated denunciations of UNESCO.

Fierce battle
The race to head the United Nations’ education and culture agency has descended into a fierce battle in which member states’ diplomatic clout appears to outweigh their candidates’ respective credentials.

On Monday, the 58 members of UNESCO’s executive board embarked on a week-long voting process to pick a successor for outgoing Director-General Irina Bokova. The Bulgarian’s two successive four-year terms were marked by a plunge in funding after the controversial inclusion of Palestine as a member state in 2011, which prompted both the United States and Israel to halt their contributions. Whoever succeeds Bokova will not only face the daunting task of clawing back those funds. He or she will also have to reconcile members whose relations have been badly strained by geopolitical tensions and rivalries.

When asked what qualities her successor would most need, Bokova said: “The ability to raise funds and unite [members]”. In an interview with French daily Le Monde, she added: “The organisation is a dream for the world, but it faces financial and political difficulties.”

“Difficulties” is surely an understatement. After the US pulled the plug on its funding six years ago, the UN body’s second-biggest sponsor, Japan, last year also held back its dues after the agency inscribed disputed documents recording Japanese war crimes during World War II in its Memory of the World register. These financial set-backs have left the Paris-based institution with an annual budget of just €326 million, according to a source the newspaper spoke to.

‘Political and financial hijacking’

Seven countries – France, China, Vietnam, Azerbaijan, Egypt, Qatar and Lebanon – are currently vying for leadership of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, whose stated aim is to “build peace in the minds of men and women”. Heading the agency is seen as a mark of prestige, and a way to widen a nation’s scope of influence in the world of UN institutions.

“It’s an organisation that has been swept away from its mandate to become a sounding board for clashes that happen elsewhere, and this translates into political and financial hijacking,” a former European UNESCO ambassador, who asked to remain anonymous, was quoted as telling the Reuters news agency.

And it is here that the squabbling about the candidates begins.

In UNESCO’s 72-year history, no Arab country has ever been at the helm. European nations, on the other hand, have garnered a total of six mandates, with France leading the pack. This time around, Arab countries make up almost half of the shortlisted candidates. Egypt and Qatar, in particular, feel now is their turn.

French bid under fire

The fact that France, which already has the honour of hosting the agency, has had the nerve to field another candidate – this time former culture minister Audrey Azoulay – has made some see red. Over the summer, a group of Arab intellectuals wrote an open letter to French President Emmanuel Macron urging him to withdraw his support for Azoulay. Jack Lang, the head of the Arab World Institute in Paris, penned a letter in April voicing his opposition to her bid.

In an interview published in French weekly Le Point last week, Egypt’s Moushira Khattab, who along with China’s Quian Tang and Qatar’s Hamad bin Abdulaziz al-Kawari, is considered among the favourites, reiterated this stance.

“There is a tacit agreement that [France] won’t present a candidate for the director-general job. On top of that, it was understood that the next mandate would be awarded to the Arab world, which has never held the post,” Khattab said.

“We don’t understand [France’s] position. Today, who would be better than an Arab Muslim woman, with the necessary qualifications, to speak up against all sorts of radicalism? And this is without taking into account that my country, Egypt, has been at peace in the Middle East for 40 years and can speak with the Israelis and Palestinians,” she said.

Speaking to pan-African weekly Jeune Afrique in September, the French candidate countered that there is no such thing as a “rule of regional rotation” giving candidates from the Arab world precedence. She added: “I don’t want to be a part of this debate which has little to do with what’s actually at stake for UNESCO.”

Trips to Doha

The Arab candidates for the job have their own millstones.

Khattab, who served as top aide to former Egyptian first lady Suzanne Mubarak, was recently accused by rights groups of failing to speak out against the government’s repressive policies. Qatar’s candidacy, which has been promoted with the help of lobby groups such as Portland and ESL & Network, is also seen as controversial in light of the current crisis in the Gulf, which has seen Doha’s neighbours accuse it of sponsoring terrorism.

But Kawari, a former culture minister, insists he is simply the best person for the job.

“I’m one of very few people in the world who have received three honours from three different French presidents. [François] Mitterrand gave me the Legion of Honour, [Valéry] Giscard [d’Estaing] the medal of merits, and [François] Hollande the order of arts and letters. I’m the favourite, and I’m going to be elected,” Le Monde quoted him as saying.

French media also report that Qatar recently invited several members of the UNESCO executive board on an all-expenses-paid trip to Doha.

China’s bid, led by UNESCO veteran Tang, has also been met with scepticism. Some critics say Beijing is seeking to take advantage of the gap left behind by the US, in order to gain more influence over UN institutions in general.

Tang denied this in an interview with the Associated Press. “China does not want to replace the United States,” he said. “I went to the [US] State Department and I had a long discussion with officials there. I said ‘I really don’t think you Americans should give up your global responsibility, especially at UNESCO’.”

The UNESCO executive board will vote over a maximum of five rounds, in a process expected to last about a week. The winning nominee will then be presented to the agency’s general assembly for final approval.

LA TIMES/France24

  • Hind Abyad

    US is Israel Hostage Finnish.

  • Hind Abyad

    It is fitting that the US has withdrawn from UNESCO under Trump, who is the most uncultured American president in history..

  • Hind Abyad

    Good riddance to Israel and the US, both countries are ultimately responsible for the obliteration of many world heritage sites , directly and via proxy terrorism.

    • יוסף בן-ישראל

      Do you think that Jews need Unesco to make science ?

      Nobel Prizes have been awarded to 887 individuals,[2] of whom 196 were people of Jewish descent, although people of Jewish descent comprise less than 0.2% of the world’s population.[3]

      As of 2013, people of Jewish descent constituted 41% of economics, 28% of medicine, 26% of physics, 19% of chemistry, 13% of literature…

      From http://www.wikiwand.com/en/List_of_Jewish_Nobel_laureates

      Here the list ofthe Israeli Nobel Prizes (only science) :

      The Prize in Economic Sciences 2002
      Daniel Kahneman
      “for having integrated insights from psychological research into economic science, especially concerning human judgment and decision-making under uncertainty”

      The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2004
      Aaron Ciechanover
      “for the discovery of ubiquitin-mediated protein degradation”

      The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2009
      Ada E. Yonath
      “for studies of the structure and function of the ribosome”

      The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2011
      Dan Shechtman
      “for the discovery of quasicrystals”

      The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2013
      Arieh Warshel
      “for the development of multiscale models for complex chemical systems”

      • Hind Abyad

        Yeah, thank Arab Contributions to Civilization

        “Much like America today, the Arab world of the seventh to the thirteenth centuries was a great cosmopolitan civilization. It was an enormous unifying enterprise, one which joined the peoples
        of Spain and North Africa in the west with the peoples of the ancient lands of Egypt, Syria and Mesopotamia in the east.”

        “The Arab civilization brought together Muslims, Christians and Jews. It unified Arabians, Africans, Berbers, Egyptians, and the descendants of the Phoenicians, Canaanites, and many other people. This great “melting pot” was not without tensions, to be sure, but it was precisely the tension of this mixing and meeting of peoples that produced the vibrant and dynamic new civilization, the remarkable advances of which we outline in this ADC Issues”.







        “Concerning Arab contributions to engineering, one can look to the water wheel, cisterns, irrigation, water wells at fixed levels, and the water clock. In 860, the three sons of Musa ibn Shakir published the Book on Artifices, which described a hundred technical constructions. One of the earliest philosophers, al-Kindi, wrote on specific weight, tides, light reflection and optics.

        Al-Haytham (known in Europe as Alhazen) wrote a book in the tenth century on optics, Kitab Al Manazir. He explored optical illusions, the rainbow, and the camera obscura (which led to the beginning of photographic instruments). He also made discoveries in atmospheric refractions (mirages and comets, for example), studied the eclipse, and laid the foundation for the later development of the microscope and the telescope. Al-Haytham did not limit himself to one branch of the sciences, but like many of the Arab scientists and thinkers, explored and made contributions to the fields of physics, anatomy and mathematics.”

        “Because the ancient Arabs believed that the arts served God, they raised small scale artistries to new levels of perfection. Glassware, ceramics, and textile weaves attest to their imagination and special skills. They covered walls and objects with intricately detailed mosaics, tiles, carvings, and paintings. Syrian beakers and rock crystals were in great demand in Renaissance Europe and the Azulejos. The iridescent luster pottery from the Moorish kilns in Valencia, also enjoyed great popularity. New glazing techniques were developed, and the brilliant blues took on many names. (The Chinese called them Muhammedan blues, and Dutch traders called them Chinese blues)”.


        “The harp, lyre, zither, drum, tambourine, flute, oboe and reed instruments are today either exactly as they were used from earliest Arab civilization or variations of the Arabs‘ early musical instruments. The guitar and mandolin are sisters to that plaintive, pear-shaped stringed instrument, the oud.

        The bagpipe was first introduced into Europe by Crusaders returning from the wars in Palestine. It quickly became identified with the British Isles. Once the entertainment of the lonely Arab shepherds, the bagpipe returned to Palestine with the British Army. This lost musical art was relearned during the period of Sir John Glubb‘s reorganization and command of Jordan‘s colorful Bedouin Corps.

        Arab poetry was put to music the subtle delicacy of minor key sequences and rhythm. The modes continue to influence our ballads and folk songs today. Extempore poetry was perfected into musical expression, and Arab wedding and other occasions are still celebrated with extempore versing and musical composition.”


        “Arab philosophers effectively integrated faith and scientific fact, letting one exit within the framework of the other. The Arab philosophers after Byzantium re-discovered the classic philosophy of Aristotle, Plotinus, and Plato in attempting to find answers to the fundamental questions concerning God‘s creation of the universe, the nature and destiny of the human soul, and the true existence of the seen as the unseen.”

        “In discussing contributions to human civilizations of some of the medieval Arab scientists, artists, educators, philosophers, poets and musicians, one must remember that their thought was molded and shaped by many ancient cultures — Greek, Roman, Chinese, Indian, Byzantine, Canaanite and Egyptian, for example. Arab culture, from its ancient beginnings to the present, has given us three great monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. In government and law, one refers to Hammurabi (Babylonian), Ulpian and Papinian (Phoenicians). Perhaps the greatest contribution of the Arabs to human civilization has been the phonetic alphabet.

        In all aspects of our daily lives, then — in our homes, offices and universities; in religion, philosophy, science and the arts — we are indebted to Arab creativity, insight and scientific perseverance.”

        Zionist and te West created ISIS

        • יוסף בן-ישראל

          Bla bla bla ! Moi je compte les prix Nobel en Science et vous alignez les mots. Vous les musulmans vous vivez sur vos gloires passées (je ne nie pas l’apport de l’islam à la civilisation). Nous les juifs on a pris le train de la science d’haujourd’hui, celui de la civilisation nouvelle, des mathématiques d’aujourd’hui des sciences de l’atome et de la cellule. On a créé la physique du 20ème siècle, avec les scientifiques des autres nations. Et vous, que faites vous pendant ce temps ?

          • Omega

            HAHAHA!!! Oh le con.

          • Hind Abyad

            Vous les Musumans..Omega est Chrétien

          • יוסף בן-ישראל

            Omega je l’ai bloqué. Je ne lui parle pas. Je ne le vois même pas. Je vois juste un trace “This user is blocked”. C’est tout ce qu’il mérite.

            Regarde bien, je te répondais, à toi. Tu défends tellement les musulmans malgré leurs exactions, que je peux penser que es musulmane.

          • Hind Abyad

            Israel défends ISIS pas moi.

          • יוסף בן-ישראל

            In your dreams !

          • Niemals

            Bienvenue au bon sens.

        • Omega

          Notice how he pulled a non sequitur (science) when you exposed Israel’s destruction of others’ civilizations and cultures.

        • יוסף בן-ישראל

          Vous savez, contrairement à vous, je ne dirai jamais du mal des libanais parce que j’ai un très bon ami et collègue avec qui je travaille régulièrement. J’ai publié avec lui et on a un groupe de travail hebdomadaire. Je sais ce que les libanais sont capables de faire quand ils sont en paix avec les juifs.

          Faites la paix avec les juifs, grandissez nom d’un chien !!

      • Omega

        Being a Jew or Jewish is not a matter of race. You admitted it yourself. Thus, how could they be of “Jewish descent”?

        The 190 “Jewish” Laureate (196 minus 6 Israelis) are people from all over thre world – mostly European – and they excelled in their field within the respective countries.

    • יוסף בן-ישראל

      “for the obliteration of many world heritage sites”

      You’re a joke.

      • Hind Abyad

        ISIS, US Israeli proxies obliterated World heritage ex: “Nineveh- Occupied by ISIS from: 2014

        Once the largest city in the ancient world, Nineveh is a walled city just outside Mosul that contained the massive palace of Assyrian king Sennacherib. Rasheed estimates that 70 percent of what remains has been destroyed.

        The Adad Gate and part of the city’s fortification wall were also destroyed, originally dating back more than 2,500 years. Despite being recently replicated in the 20th century, the gates remained symbols of the city’s history.”

        Nineveh is Assyrian Christian land, now given to Kurds, who partcipated in the Armenian Assyrian and Mount Lebanon Genocides, in 1915 WW1 -.Zionists 100 years anniversary.

        • יוסף בן-ישראל

          In what Israel is responsible for what Muslims do to Muslims ?!

          • Rascal

            In her twisted fake-news head, it makes sense, somehow.

  • Omega

    The US infrastructure is crumbling. A big portion of Americans can’t afford health care. There still is no clean water in Flint, Michigan. Puerto Rico is in dire need of help. Etc.

    But the US is concerned about the UNESCO’s bias against Israel.

    Any semi-intelligent, semi-moral human being must be against Israel.

    • Rascal

      “The US infrastructure is crumbling.” Are you having another wet dream again? Yet so many flock there from other countries, realizing it it is worse in their home country.

      “Any semi-intelligent, semi-moral human being should be biased against Israel.”
      You are almost getting as bad as Hind. You two read from the same script. Obsessed with Israel. I can understand how some oppressive backwards countries (like Iran) that still hang people in the streets would be jealous of Israel’s successes and achievements and want to destroy that.

      • Omega

        • The US’ crumbling infrastructure is nothing new. You just prefer to keep your head in the hole. You get a “D” like it.


        • What does the US’ infrastructure have to do with immigration?

        • The criteria were:

        1. Semi-intelligent
        2. Semi-moral
        3. Human being

        You don’t seem to associate with any.

        • Before projecting “obsession”, read your comments about Hezbollah, Iran, etc.

        Israel was created by the ruling class of Britain. It did nothing on its own. Everything about it dictated by Britain. Nothing but a outpost puppet-state masqueraded as a land for the Jews.

  • יוסף בן-ישראל

    Voilà une bonne nouvelle !

    L’ancienne ministre de la Culture Audrey Azoulay élue directrice générale de l’Unesco.


    • Hannibal

      and here is the culture that Israel is trying to obliterate….
      The best dabke in the world is the Palestinian Dabke.

      • יוסף בן-ישראל

        There are millions km2 around where you can dance. But we have only 27.000 km2. So please, leave us a little bit of place.

        • Omega

          How much of that 27 km² did your ilk steal? Go back home and dance all you want.

      • Hind Abyad

        ” Hannibal • יוסף בן-ישראל
        There are millions km2 around where you can dance. But we have only 27.000 km2. So please, leave us a little bit of place.”

        What a coincidence same talking points as today, but dates from 2000.

        • Israel is just a tiny little country for the Jews. The Palestinians can easily go live with their fellow Arabs in neighboring countries like Jordan, Syria or Lebanon.


  • יוסף בן-ישראל

    To wish a good shabbat to everyone, Jew or not. Enjoy!


    • Hannibal

      Damn they look soooooo Arab 😛

      • יוסף בן-ישראל

        That is what we are 😉

      • Omega

        European squatters pretending to be Semitic.

      • Hind Abyad

        Palestinian father encourage his daughter to dance, ‘ma tistihe ya Deema’..beautiful.. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z8-QLZ0TteY

    • Hannibal
      • יוסף בן-ישראל

        Je vois qu’il y a encore de l’espoir pour le Liban 🙂

        • Hind Abyad

          Je vois qu’il y a encore de l’espoir pour la Palestine 😉

          • יוסף בן-ישראל

            Rendez moi un service SVP, dites à votre ami, qui se fait appeler prétentieusement Omega, que je l’ai bloqué et que je ne vois plus ces commentaires (grâce à dieu).