AJC Praises End to UNESCO Support for Anti-Semitic Palestinian Youth Magazine

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.”
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