UNESCO Director General says demonisation of Israel is a new form of anti-Semitism
UNESCO chief says the demonisation of Israel is a new form of anti-Semitism which must be energetically countered, and affirms the vital importance of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem to the Jewish people
Irina Bokova, Director General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), told Jewish leaders on Monday that the campaign of deligitimisation against Israel was a new form of anti-Semitism that, like Holocaust denial, must be energetically rejected.
"There is a new form of anti-Semitism expressed in the form of a demonisation of Israel," she said, echoing sentiments voiced at the same event the previous evening by United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres.
Speaking at the 15th Plenary Assembly of the World Jewish Congress in New York on the day Israel and Jews around the world commemorate the six million Jews murdered in the Holocaust, she also warned of a rising trend, especially in Europe, to deny or distort the history of the Holocaust.
"These discourses must be countered," she said.
Ms. Bokova, a Bulgarian national, said UNESCO must fight ignorance as a central plank of its mission. UNESCO, like many other UN bodies, has come under fire in recent years for passing resolutions singling out Israel for unwarranted criticism. Attempts to erase the Jewish character of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem have caused particular concern.
To applause from the several hundred strong audience, Ms. Bokova referred to the Temple Mount as the holiest site in the world for Judaism. She has run into difficult confrontations over the matter with members of her own organisation.
The fight against anti-Semitism was a core part of UNESCO's wider efforts to build peace and counter extremism, she said.
"Today, against the new forms of anti-Semitism we must constantly reinvent our tools."
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