The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization has cut funding to a Palestinian children’s magazine that published an inflammatory and antisemitic article.
UNESCO came under fire from the Simon Wiesenthal Center for their support of “Zayzafouna,” a magazine that published in their February 2011 issue an article by a 10-year-old girl who said Adolf Hitler appeared in her dreams.
According to the girl’s essay, the Nazi leader told her he killed the Jews "so you would all know that they are a nation who spreads destruction all over the world.”
UNESCO released a statement, saying, “While UNESCO upholds freedom of expression as an integral part of its mandate, the inclusion in this publication of a statement that may be interpreted as an apology of the Holocaust is contrary to UNESCO’s constitutional mandate and values. It is totally unacceptable. … The Organization, which is deeply committed to the development and promotion of education about the Holocaust, disassociates itself from any statement that is counter to its founding principles and goals of building tolerance in the full respect for human rights and human dignity."
Before UNESCO announced it was cutting its funding of the magazine, Jspace News spoke with Mark Weitzman, Director of Government Affairs for the Simon Wiesenthal Center, who said this was an example of what happens when the global organization allows itself to be used “as a tool for radical interests.”
“We find it totally inappropriate for an organization that is funded in part by U.S. dollars to be contributing to a magazine that views Hitler as a role model and looks at the murder of Jews in a positive light,” he said. “This is not something any reputable organization should be involved in. It obviously raises issues about UNESCO’s involvement with Palestine.”
The Simon Wiesenthal Center had been pressuring UNESCO to remove its funding of the magazine throughout the week, calling the organization’s initial response “inadequate.”
“Can you imagine the audacity of a magazine that supposedly promotes tolerance and democracy using Adolph Hitler as a model? We call on UNESCO to immediately end funding to the ‘Zayzafuna’ magazine,” said Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder and dean of the Wiesenthal Center.
Going forward, Weitzman would like to see UNESCO learn from this incident.
“I think you have to question the oversight of how it happened in the first place, and what further steps they will be taking so that it’s not a circus of doing this over and over again after the fact,” he said.
In October, UNESCO admitted Palestine as a full member of its organization, making it the first UN agency to do so.