Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council

More UN DysfUNctionalism

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In another example of UN dysfunctionality, Syria has been admitted as the Arab representative to UNESCO's human rights committee, just a day after a UN report criticised the country's massacre of 3,500 anti-government protesters.

The decision is even more bizarre in light of the Arab League suspension of Syria over the Assad regime's human rights' abuses.

It is not as if UNESCO is unaware of the current human rights abuses, with the organisation's Director-General Irina Bokova issuing a press release in June expressing "her concern over the escalating violence in Syria and, in particular, the crackdown on citizens' access to communication and information services and reported attacks and restrictions on journalists".

As AIJAC's Or Aviguy reported last week, Israel's ambassador to UNESCO received an official letter of complaint from Bokova for a cartoon that featured in the left wing newspaper Haaretz that "risks endangering the lives of unarmed diplomats".

The cartoon (published on November 4) clearly was meant to satirise, not UNESCO, but the Israeli government's anger at the acceptance of the Palestinian Authority as a full member of UNESCO. It depicted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Ehud Barak sending an air force squadron to attack Iran, with Netanyahu ordering, "And on your way back, you're gonna hit the UNESCO office in Ramallah!"

An Israel Today magazine web story on Syria's admission observes:

UNESCO has been petitioned countless times over cartoons appearing in Arab newspapers that present Israel and the Jews as bloodthirsty and demonic, but the organization has yet to issue any formal complaints in those cases.
...Meanwhile, the mainstream international media completely ignored the story of Syria's hypocritical promotion at UNESCO.

The UNESCO decision follows the granting of full membership status to the currently non-existent state of Palestine on October 31.

Meanwhile, UN Watch Executive Director Hillel Neuer has attacked the International Red Cross and other organisations for agreeing to attend a conference being held tomorrow by the Iranian Center for Human Rights and Cultural Diversity, an organisation with close links to the regime.

As Neuer explains, since the centre was established in 2007 it has worked to promote the idea that human rights are not universal but dependent upon cultural norms specific to different civilisations and countries.

- Allon Lee

 

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