Peace on earth…that is the prayer of this season.
But peace will not come until we share the values of tolerance and respect for others, even as we take pride in our own traditions and cultures.
UNESCO director-general Irina Bokova has announced that the organization is ending aid to Zayzafuna, a children’s magazine filled with anti-Semitic material that is produced and distributed in the Palestinian Authority. We at AJC commend them for taking this action once they were alerted, although ideally UNESCO should have seen sooner that its funds were being misused to promote vile hatred of Jews.
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. 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 to Bokova.
We salute 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.
We hope 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.
Let us all work toward peace on earth and begin with teaching our children.
Former NJ Area Director
American Jewish Committee