B’nai B’rith International President Gary P. Saltzman and CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin have issued the following statement:
The United States’ decision to withdraw from UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) presents UNESCO with an important opportunity for much needed reform, before the steady politicization of the organization renders it globally irrelevant.
Perhaps the U.S. withdrawal will serve as a wake-up call for all U.N. agencies to begin a process of systemic reform, in order to return the organization to its original mission. To be sure, UNESCO is only part of a U.N. system that is rife with politicization in general, and bias against Israel in particular.
Outgoing UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova has attempted to bring about balance within the organization. But unfortunately, it has not been enough to overcome the members of UNESCO that repeatedly hijack the purpose and mission of the organization, or have simply looked the other way.
In recent years, UNESCO has voted to reject Israel’s sovereignty over Jerusalem, the historic capital of Israel. We reiterate what we said earlier this year. That UNESCO bodies have become more complicit in an ill-conceived and politicized Palestinian campaign that seeks to erase the connection between Jews and their holiest sites—beginning with the Temple Mount and the Western Wall. The UNESCO-affiliated World Heritage Committee continually seeks to advance the Palestinian narrative.
The politicization of UNESCO has also cast a pall over the organization's work in scientific, educational and cultural fields. That will be the case until it casts off its political agendas.
B’nai B’rith, which has an office of U.N. Affairs at the world body’s global headquarters in New York, and representation at UNESCO in Paris and the Human Rights Council in Geneva, has long called-out anti-Israel bias.