Israel ‘to prepare’ for UNESCO withdrawal alongside US, says Netanyahu

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting at his office in Jerusalem, October 1, 2017.
(AFP/POOL/Sebastian Scheiner)

Israel will begin preparations to withdraw from the UN’s cultural and education body now that the United States has made its decision to do the same, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday

“The prime minister instructed the Foreign Ministry to prepare Israel’s withdrawal from the organization alongside the United States,” Netanyahu’s office said in a statement, hours after the US said it is quitting the organization, citing its “anti-Israel bias” alongside financial considerations.

Netanyahu said he “welcomes the decision by President [Donald] Trump to withdraw from UNESCO. This is a courageous and moral decision because UNESCO has become the theater of the absurd and because, instead of preserving history, it distorts it.”

The US withdrawal is to take effect on December 31, 2018.

Earlier Thursday, Israel’s ambassador to UNESCO, Carmel Shama-Hacohen, said his personal recommendation to Netanyahu would be to “immediately withdraw” from the organization.

Israel’s ambassador to UNESCO, Carmel Shama-Hacohen, with cultural agency’s director-general Irina Bokova, September 26, 2017
(Erez Lichtfeld)

Shama-Hacohen said that in recent years UNESCO has become “an absurd organization that has lost its way in favor of the political considerations of certain countries” and that his “personal recommendation to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is to follow suit and immediately withdraw [from UNESCO].”

The US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, said in a statement Thursday following the US announcement to withdraw that “the purpose of UNESCO is a good one,” but “unfortunately, its extreme politicization has become a chronic embarrassment.”

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Israeli Lawmaker: Iran Believes It Can Deceive the West

Editor’s note: Read the original essay, by Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, that prompted this response.

Reading through the Iranian foreign minister’s article in The Atlantic this week, one is struck by paradox. It is so full of lies, distortions, and half-truths that in the end it yields one fundamental truth—it’s not a set of errors, it’s a methodology. The goal is to turn Iran into a regional nuclear power. The method is to make the West believe it isn’t happening.

There is no need for a sustained intelligence effort to expose the blatant lies in Zarif’s piece, so I will highlight just a few of the most egregious examples: Iran didn’t improve the accuracy of its missiles to avoid “civilian or non-combatant deaths” (I admit I had to read that sentence twice to believe he wrote it), but rather to intensify the threat and ability to sow destruction. Iran is not a democracy, as he portrays it, because a democracy doesn’t hang homosexuals from cranes, doesn’t enshrine in law the right to stone adulterers to death, and doesn’t maintain a force like the Basij, an Iranian paramilitary of around 11.5 million people whose role is to enforce Sharia law and prevent Western influence. Iran isn’t the victim of terror as Zarif pretends, but the country that funds and arms Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Houthis in Yemen, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and a long list of other terror organizations. Iran does not show “good will and peaceful intentions,” because if it did it wouldn’t have sent the Revolutionary Guard to help the Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad murder more than half a million people in Syria and create over 11 million refugees through the use of barrel bombs and chemical weapons. Iran is not interested in the “promotion of peace, stability, progress, and prosperity in the region” because earlier this year Zarif’s boss, the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, called Israel “a cancerous tumor” and a “fake entity” which needs to be destroyed. On another occasion he announced that Iran will support anyone who aims to “wipe Israel off the map.

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Israeli hospital gets grant to treat Syrian kids’ hearing loss

A six-figure donation from Israeli philanthropist Morris Kahn is going to Ziv Medical Center in Safed (Tzfat) to fund treatment of hearing loss among Syrian children brought from conflict areas to Israel for medical care.

Philanthropist Morris Kahn, Chairman of the Genesis Prize Selection Committee Natan Sharansky and Ziv Medical Center Director-General Dr. Salman Zarka. Photo courtesy of the Genesis Prize Foundation

The hospital near the border with Syria, recently visited by celebrity Conan O’Brien, has extensive experience treating wounded Syrian civilians.

Exams performed at Ziv have revealed that one out of every three Syrian children from combat zones suffers hearing loss. The grant will cover direct expenses related to clinical treatments, surgery and rehabilitation as well as state-of-the-art hearing devices for an estimated 50 children.

Kahn said he was inspired by 2017 Genesis Prize Laureate Sir Anish Kapoor, a renowned sculptor and human-rights activist who is donating his $1 million prize to refugee causes. Kahn reached out to the Genesis Prize Foundation, which agreed to facilitate the grant to the hospital.

“We have treated more than 1,000 Syrians of all ages who needed our help over the past four years. It’s really important for me as a physician, as an Israeli, and as a human being. I am extremely grateful to Anish Kapoor and the Genesis Prize Foundation for shedding light on the important work we do. With their help, we can make the world a better place for a lot more Syrian children,” said Dr. Salman Zarka, director of Ziv.

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