B’nai B’rith Leaders Meet With UNESCO Director-General In Paris; Consensus, Non-Politicized Approach Is Urged
A B’nai B’rith International delegation met with United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Director-General Irina Bokova in Paris.
At the March 4 meeting, the delegation, led by B’nai B’rith International President Dennis W. Glick and Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin, shared its goals for the agency, as well as concerns about the politicization of the work of UNESCO. Bokova also discussed her own agenda for UNESCO.
“UNESCO’s mission is important to bridging cultural misunderstandings around the world, and we had a highly productive meeting with the director-general,” Glick said. “But efforts have increasingly been made to divert from UNESCO's core mandate of heritage preservation to more divisive, partisan areas. We appreciate Director-General Bokova's recent affirmation that UNESCO must operate according to consensus, and we look forward to continue working with UNESCO on such shared interests as tolerance training and intergroup exchange.”
“We were pleased to have the opportunity to discuss with Director-General Bokova such compelling issues as the anti-Israel resolutions passed at the sessions of the UNESCO Executive Board as well as the current situation in the Middle East,” Mariaschin said. “As a long-accredited non-governmental organization at UNESCO, we hope this important part of the United Nations can work to fulfill its mission without impediment.”
The B’nai B’rith delegation also met in Paris with Ambassador Jean-David Levitte, senior foreign policy advisor to French President Nicolas Sarkozy; Ambassador Francois Zimeray, responsible for human rights and efforts against anti-Semitism at the French Foreign Ministry; United States Ambassador to UNESCO David Killion; Israel's Ambassador to France Yossi Gal; and Israeli Ambassador to UNESCO Nimrod Barkan, as well as the leadership of the French Jewish community.
The delegation included: Glick, Mariaschin, Director of U.N. and Intercommunal Affairs David Michaels; B’nai B’rith Senior Vice President Yves-Victor Kamami; President of B’nai B’rith France André Nadjar; B’nai B’rith’s primary representative at UNESCO, Witold Zyss; B’nai B’rith UNESCO representative, Stephane Teicher; and former B’nai B’rith France President Jacques Jacubert. Also in the delegation: Norman Anav and Irene Ores, deputy permanent representatives of B’nai B’rith at UNESCO.
At the conclusion of the meeting, the delegation presented Bokova with a set of books from the B’nai B’rith Diverse Minds Youth Writing Challenge, for which teens write and illustrate books for elementary students about tolerance and diversity. The winning book is published and includes a UNESCO quote: “Tolerance is respect, acceptance and appreciation of the rich diversity of our world’s cultures, our forms of expression and ways of being human.”