World Jewish News
Will Qatar's candidate become this week the new head of UNESCO?
Who will succeed Bulgarian Irina Bokova as head of UNESCO, the United Nations agency for education, science and culture which has voted several resolutions ignoring the Jewish people’s ties to Jerusalem which prompted the US and Israel to suspend their financial cooperation.
The 58 members of the executive board of the Paris-based organization are meeting this week to elect the new Director General. Three candidates are considered leading the race: Dr Hamad bin Abdulaziz al-Kuwari, a former Culture Minister of Qatar, who got 19 out of 59 votes Monday night, followed by France’s nominee Audrey Azoulay (13) and Egyptian Moushira Khattab (11).
The executive board members have until Friday to select Bokova’s successor. They need an overall majority.
The UNESCO ector-general is appointed for a period of four years, and may be appointed for a further term of four years, but shall not be eligible for reappointment for a subsequent term.
According to the Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC), the candidate of Qatar, Al-Kawari, has a record of anti-Semitism since several years.
Shimon Samuels, Director of international relations for the Simon Wiesenthal Center, said that despite protests from the SWC and other Jewish organisations, Al-Kawari permitted the prominent display of violently anti-Semitic literature at the Doha Annual Book Fairs in 2014, 2015 and 2016. Anti-Semitic texts have also been display on Qatar’s stand at the world-famous book fair in Frankfurt.
In a letter to Al-Kawari, Samuels, recalled his several protests to the then Cuture Minister, "regarding the hate literature on display at the annual Doha Book Fair and our 2014 and 2015 award for 'Worst Offender' conferred for the anti-Semitic texts on Qatar's stand at the Frankfurt Book Fair. This breached contractual obligations to the Fair which prohibit incitement to hate and violence".
‘’You apparently signed a Preface to the Cultural Ministry's book on Jerusalem which claims,among other canards, that 'the Jews control the media, newspapers and publishing houses in the United States and the West'. This is outrageous and behooves an apology," he wrote.
"Your silence at our calls to you to condemn the hatemongers and remove your patronage from the display stands at the Doha Book Fair and the Qatar stand at the Frankfurt Fair which won you our 2014 and 2015 "Worst Offender Award"... seems to imply indifference and endorsement and surely violate the principles of UNESCO, the institution whose leadership you covet".
Samuels said that Al-Kawari has been seeking to court Jewish leaders in the United Sates and Europe to lobby for his UNESCO Director-General campaign.