UNESCO Vote Disregards Killion’s Appeal Against Politicized, “One-Sided” Motions on Middle East
B’nai B’rith International salutes Ambassador David T. Killion, permanent representative of the United States to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), as he delivered his ninth and final address to the body’s Executive Board.
Killion, a recipient of the B’nai B’rith Excellence in Diplomacy award, gave his final statement on Oct. 1, touching on several themes which he championed with the firm backing of B’nai B’rith. Killion noted efforts by the United States to promote peace between Israelis and Palestinians, while pointedly warning of the delicacy of the peace process and the need to avoid politicizing UNESCO through one-sided motions on the Middle East.
“Politicizing the agenda of UNESCO, particularly through one-sided, non-consensus-based resolutions, will undermine this process,” Killion said. “At this moment in history, it should be self-evident to the international community, including UNESCO’s Executive Board, that we should strive to create a positive climate conducive to negotiations between the parties.”
Killion also reiterated the United States’ commitment to UNESCO’s Holocaust education and remembrance program. He praised the organization for being a leader at the United Nations in this regard.
“This program consistently produces results that stretch well beyond its budget, working to prevent genocide and mass atrocities around the world by transmitting the hard lessons learned from the Holocaust,” Killion said. “This is an area of UNESCO leadership, and it deserves our strong support.”
Sadly, UNESCO’s Executive Board chose to disregard Killion’s message about politicizing the agenda of the agency by passing six resolutions condemning Israel on Oct. 4. They included five recurring resolutions on topics such as the Cave of the Patriarchs, Rachel’s Tomb and the Mughrabi Bridge abutting the Temple Mount. The sixth resolution condemned Israel for scrapping a UNESCO delegation visit to assess the preservation of the Old City of Jerusalem after Palestinian authorities tried to transform the previously agreed-upon professional visit into a political event. The United States was the only country on the 58-member board to vote against all six resolutions.
In response to Killion’s final address, B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs said, “B’nai B’rith is extremely proud to have worked with Ambassador Killion, a consummate professional and a true friend, on issues of vital importance to the United States and B’nai B’rith. We are indebted to him for his service.”
B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin added: “We wish Ambassador Killion the very best as he concludes his service at UNESCO. The ambassador has proven himself to be an extraordinary diplomat and public servant—a man not only of commitment, but of skill and, no less important, of principle. His tenure at UNESCO was marked by a series of very important accomplishments and the United States will be fortunate to again be able to count on Ambassador Killion in vital future roles.”