US criticizes Palestinian Authority double talk
by Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik
Following Palestinian Media Watch's exposure of Hitler glorification in the Palestinian magazine Zayzafuna funded by UNESCO, UNESCO's funding was condemned internationally.
The US Ambassador to UNESCO condemned the PA for its duplicity and called on UNESCO to act:
"UNESCO must let the Palestinian Authority know that this double-speak, using a message of peace for the international community, and another message for domestic consumption that teaches hatred, is unacceptable. I count on you [Madame Irinia Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO] to investigate whether UNESCO funding is, in fact, still being used to sponsor this Palestinian magazine; and, if so, to take the appropriate steps to end the international community's financing of such hatred through this organization."
[US Ambassador to UNESCO, David T. Killion, Dec. 22, 2011, http://photos.state.gov/libraries/unesco/182433/pdfs/Amb-Killion-Letter-to-UNESCO-on-Zayzafuna-12-22-11.pdf, http://photos.state.gov/libraries/unesco]
PMW welcomes the US Ambassador's clear reference to Palestinian Authority duplicity, which PMW has been documenting for years.
Responding to the US Ambassador, UNESCO stated:
"UNESCO is shocked and dismayed by the content of the February issue [of Zayzafuna], and has requested more detailed information and clarification from the editors of the magazine and to Palestinian Authority. UNESCO strongly deplores and condemns the reproduction of such inflammatory statements in a magazine associated with UNESCO's name and mission and will not provide any further support to the publication in question."
[UNESCO, www.unesco.org , Dec. 23, 2011]
The full statements follow below, including statements from the Anti-Defamation League, AJC and B'nai B'rith.
Earlier this week, PMW reported on the Wiesenthal Center's condemnation of UNESCO's funding and the Palestinian magazine itself.
A complete analysis of a one-year period of the Zayzafuna magazine appears in PMW's new book Deception: Betraying the Peace Process. Purchase it here.
US Ambassador Killion Condemns Anti-Semitic Publication and calls on UNESCO to Block Funding
UNITED STATES MISSION TO UNESCO, Dec. 22, 2011,
Dear Madame Director-General,
I am writing to you to draw your attention to several disturbing news stories. A group called Palestinian Media Watch has reported that the educational children's magazine, Zayzafuna, "includes terms glorifying jihad," and references an essay by a teenage Palestinian girl, published in February 2011, applauding Hitler for murdering Jews. According to these reports, UNESCO supplied some funding to Zayzafuna. If this is true, this funding must stop immediately.
Madame Director-General, in your speech on December 131h, in the presence of Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, you said, "Membership of UNESCO goes beyond raising the flag. It comes with rights and responsibilities. It means sharing values - the values of tolerance, respect for others." You also said that you "...dream of joint educational textbooks on the history of shared ties to the land where Israelis and Palestinians live." If you believe, as you told the audience, that "...Human dignity is our starting point and the measure of our success," then you must take action immediately to let the Palestinians know that the kind of anti-Semitic, anti-Israel venom their educational system and media is introducing to young Palestinians is not the way forward towards tolerance, respect and peace.
UNESCO must let the Palestinian Authority know that this double-speak, using a message of peace for the international community, and another message for domestic consumption that teaches hatred, is unacceptable.
I count on you to investigate whether UNESCO funding is, in fact, still being used to sponsor this Palestinian magazine; and, if so, to take the appropriate steps to end the international community's financing of such hatred through this Organization.
David T. Killion
UNESCO statement on Palestinian children's magazine, Zayzafouna
Dec. 23, 2011 - UNESCO PRESS
UNESCO's attention has been drawn to the February 2011 issue of the Palestinian children's magazine Zayzafouna. This magazine is published by an NGO of the same name under the patronage of the Palestinian National Commission for UNESCO, which is the national body set up by the Palestinian Authority to facilitate its work with the Organization. The February issue features a story written by a 10-year-old girl in which Hitler is quoted by her as stating that he "killed [the Jews] so you would all know that they are a nation who wreak havoc on Earth". While UNESCO upholds freedom of expression as an integral part of its mandate, the inclusion in this publication of a statement that may be interpreted as an apology of the holocaust is contrary to UNESCO's constitutional mandate and values. It is totally unacceptable.
UNESCO supported the publication of three issues of the Zayzafouna Magazine six months after the February 2011 issue. The support was provided for these issues following agreement with the editors that they would focus on building greater appreciation amongst Palestinians for their heritage and culture. They were to open the way for positive dialogue aimed at overcoming the consequences of the Middle East conflict, and to fight against stereotypes that may be conducive to violence. It was UNESCO's intention to foster a positive view of Palestinian heritage based on the values of tolerance and UNESCO's mandate of building peace in the minds of men and women. This vision guides all of UNESCO's activities, and we urge all partners to work in this direction.
UNESCO is shocked and dismayed by the content of the February issue, and has requested more detailed information and clarification from the editors of the magazine and the Palestinian Authority.
UNESCO strongly deplores and condemns the reproduction of such inflammatory statements in a magazine associated with UNESCO's name and mission and will not provide any further support to the publication in question.
The Organization, which is deeply committed to the development and promotion of education about the Holocaust, disassociates itself from any statement that is counter to its founding principles and goal of building tolerance in the full respect for human rights and human dignity.
ADL Commends UNESCO For Withdrawing Funding From Palestinian Magazine; Calls For Further Action
ADL, Dec. 23, 2011
New York, NY, December 23, 2011 ... The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today commended the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) for withdrawing funding from a Palestinian magazine, which featured an article glorifying Hitler and the killing of Jews, and called on "the agency to publicly condemn similar manifestations of anti-Semitism in publications across the Middle East."
"We applaud UNESCO for taking strong action against this Palestinian magazine for publishing an anti-Semitic article," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "Unfortunately, this magazine is not unusual. There are horrible writings and caricatures that demonize Jews daily in numerous Arab and Muslim government-affiliated media located in UNESCO member countries. We again ask the agency to publicly condemn similar manifestations of anti-Semitism in publications across the Middle East."
In a letter sent to UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova, ADL mentioned its previous letter to UNESCO documenting anti-Semitism in the Arab media, and repeated its request for the agency to take action.
UNESCO announced its decision to cut funding to the magazine in a letter to David Killion, the U.S. Ambassador to UNESCO, who requested an investigation into the agency's financing of the publication. ADL also commended Ambassador Killion for his involvement.
Palestinian Media Watch translated and drew attention to the offensive article in Zayzafuna, a monthly educational magazine that is sponsored by the Palestinian National Committee for Education, Culture and Sciences.
Cut-Off of UNESCO Funding to Palestinian Magazine Welcome; B'nai B'rith Praises U.S. Mission's Response
B'nai B'rith, Dec. 22, 2011
B'nai B'rith welcomes the cut-off of funding from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to the Palestinian children's magazine Zayzafuna after a deeply disturbing story came to light that glorified Hitler. We also praise the U.S. mission to UNESCO for taking swift, strong action in its condemnation of this hateful publication, one which UNESCO should never have funded in the first place.
Since August 2011, UNESCO has financially supported the magazine. Once this hateful message was revealed, UNESCO issued a statement saying: "UNESCO is shocked and dismayed by the content...UNESCO strongly deplores and condemns the reproduction of such inflammatory statements in a magazine associated with UNESCO's name and mission and will not provide any further support to the publication in question."
In a statement today from the U.S. mission condemning the story's blatant anti-Semitic nature, Ambassador David T. Killion, U.S. permanent representative to UNESCO said: "The decision that UNESCO took today to condemn this magazine's hateful content will, I hope, be a strong signal to the Palestinian leadership that its messages to the international community and the messages it teaches to its young must be the same, and must move towards peace."
As reported in the Palestinian Media Watch's new book "Deception: Betraying the Peace Process," the Palestinian children's magazine Zayzafuna included an essay by a teenage girl who portrays Hitler as a role model. In her dream, the girl asks Hitler, "You're the one who killed the Jews?" Hitler says: "Yes. I killed them so you would all know that they are a nation which spreads destruction all over the world. And what I ask of you is to be resilient and patient, concerning the suffering that Palestine is experiencing at their hands." The girl responds: "Thanks for the advice."
While the Palestinian Authority touts its readiness to be a member of this U.N. agency, it simultaneously violates the organization's founding principles through appalling actions like this magazine article.
"We praise U.S. mission officials for swiftly bringing this to the attention of UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova and welcome the U.N. agency's announcement that it will cut off the funding to this publication," said B'nai B'rith International President Allan J. Jacobs. "This is yet another promotion of hate-filled messages that only serve to undermine the peace process. Not only is the story itself despicable, but equally deeply disturbing is the fact that the magazine found it a suitable message to publish."
B'nai B'rith also calls upon the director-general to fully investigate the situation to ensure that procedures are in place to prevent a repetition of such hateful behavior.
"This is an extreme example of contemporary anti-Semitism. Notwithstanding the promises Palestinians made 18 years ago when they signed the Oslo Accords, incitement against Israel and Jews continues. UNESCO should never have funded this to begin with, and we urge it to look into all other Palestinian publications that they may be funding," said B'nai B'rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin.
B'nai B'rith, accredited as a non-governmental organization at the United Nations since 1947, swiftly raised this issue with officials of both the U.S. mission and UNESCO as soon as we became aware of the article in the magazine.
AJC Praises End to UNESCO Support for Anti-Semitic Palestinian Youth Magazine
AJC, Dec. 22, 2011
December 22, 2011 -- New York -- AJC welcomed the decision by UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova to cut off the international organization's funding of Zayzafuna, a children's magazine filled with anti-Semitic material that is produced and distributed in the Palestinian Authority.
AJC leaders, who have met with Bokova at UNESCO headquarters in Paris, as well as in New York and Washington, contacted her today to voice concern about news reports that Zayzafuna has been receiving financial support from the international cultural and educational organization.
"The ongoing failure of the Palestinian Authority to reform its textbooks and other educational materials regarding Israel and Jews is a huge obstacle to achieving a culture of peace," said AJC Executive Director David Harris. "Children taught to hate at an early age too often live lives filled with hate."
Bokova's action to cease support for the magazine came in response to a letter from the U.S. ambassador to UNESCO, David T. Killion.
"You must take action immediately to let the Palestinians know that the kind of anti-Semitic, anti-Israel venom their educational system and media is introducing to young Palestinians is not the way forward towards tolerance, respect and peace," Ambassador Killion wrote in his letter today to Bokova.
Harris saluted Ambassador Killion, who also pointed out that Bokova had told Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas that "membership of UNESCO goes beyond raising the flag" at the organization's headquarters. "It means sharing values -- the values of tolerance, respect for others," Bokova said. UNESCO member states voted to accept the PA as a member in October.
"Ideally, of course, UNESCO would have recognized sooner that its funds were being misused to promote such vile hatred of Jews," said Harris. "Still, we are pleased that Director-General Bokova, once alerted, moved decisively. We trust that, against this revealing backdrop, UNESCO will immediately take all necessary further steps to investigate how its funding of Palestinian projects is, in fact, being used."