::: UPDATE :::
UNESCO RESPONSE TO Shimon Samuels From Office of Director General
via email - December 21, 2011
Dear Dr. Samuels,
On behalf of the Director-General of UNESCO, Mrs. Irina Bokova, I wish to acknowledge receipt of your e-mail below and to thank you for drawing our attention to the information reported by the Palestine Media Watch(PMW), concerning the educational youth magazine Zayafuna.
Please rest assured that we have requested the magazine and the Palestinian Authority to provide us with detailed information and clarifications on the references made to the Holocaust.
Allow me tu [sic] underscore that UNESCO takes this matter extremely seriously and it cannot but strongly deplore and codemn the statements you are referring to and it disengages itself from any such statement that is counter to its founding principles and goals of building tolerance in the full respect for human rights and human dignity.
We will bring this matter to the attention of the concerned Palestinian authorities from the Ministry of Education as well as of the Permanent Delegation of Palestine to UNESCO.
Paola Leoncini Bartoli
Office of Director-General of UNESCO
CENTRE SIMON WIESENTHAL - EUROPE
66, rue Laugier
Tel:+33(0)1 47 23 76 37
Fax:+33(0)1 47 20 84 01
Paris, 21 December, 2011
In a letter to UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre's
Director for International Relations, Dr. Shimon Samuels, expressed astonishment to discover that "a UNESCO-sponsored and Palestinian Authority (PA)-funded children's monthly magazine expresses reverence for Hitler 'because he murdered the Jews'".
According to the respected Palestine Media Watch (PMW),the educational magazine, ZAYAFUNA, ostensibly "promotes family values, encourages children to read and to participate in building a modern democratic society ...when it comes to portraying Israel and Jews, Zayafuna changes its tone and includes items glorifying Jihad..."
The letter noted that "apparently a quarter of the children's submissions selected for publication express hatred for Jews and reflect messages transmitted through PA official media."
PMW had highlighted an extreme example of Zayafuna's antisemitism in its February 2011 edition : "an essay by a teenage girl who, in her dream, asks Hitler : 'you are the one who killed the Jews? ' Hitler responds : 'Yes. I killed them so you would all know that they are a nation who spreads destruction all over the world'".
(PMW Bulletins, "Hitler admired in PLO youth magazine because he murdered the Jews", by Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Ziberdik, Dec. 20, 2011)
The letter continued, "apparently, the magazine's positive messages on coexistence and peace apply to all but Jews and Israelis. Through a young girl, the Holocaust is presented as an act for the benefit of humanity."
Samuels added, "Hitler pointedly tells the child to 'be resilient and patient concerning the suffering that Palestine is experiencing at their hands.' The girl then thanks him. The editors of this magazine thus endorse Adolf Hitler as a role model for Palestine children."
(See full text below)
The letter revealed that "Zayafuna's advisory board includes PA Deputy Minister of Education, Jihad Zakarneh and former Minister for Women's Affairs, Zuheira Kamal. The PA provided 30,000 US dollars in 2011 as part of its education budget...
UNESCO has lent its sponsorship to Zayafuna since August 2011."
Samuels asked "how was it possible that your patronage could be abused despite the Ramallah office's responsability to vet all projects endorsed by UNESCO? "
Pointing to the October edition's note that "opinions expressed in this magazine do not necessarily express UNESCO's views", Samuels suggested that this was "hardly a fitting response to the discovery of the repugnant Holocaust celebration in the February issue."
The Centre recalled its suggestion last month, "when 'Palestine' was welcomed into UNESCO, that the new member be tested by being held to the declared values of UNESCO". It continued "until Zayafuna publicly apologizes for its antisemitism, Palestine will have already failed that test."
The Centre urged that UNESCO, "under your mandate to vet educational materials for incitement to hatred and violence, demand that PA President Abbas stop all funding of this magazine".
"Until then, we call on you to suspend UNESCO sponsorship of Zayafuna and to condemn its odious hatemongering" concluded Samuels.
The following is the full essay in Zayafuna below.
"One hot day, I was very tired after a hard day... and suddenly I saw four white doors in front of me. I opened them in no particular order.
I opened the first door and saw a beautiful place full of f lowers. I was surprised to see a man there. I asked him, 'Who are you?'
He said, 'I am Al-Khwarizmi.' [Ninth century Persian mathematician who lived in Baghdad, known for his contribution to the development of algebra.] I said: 'You're the one who invented mathematics and arithmetic?' He
said: 'Yes. What's your situation like today?'
I said: 'The Arabs and Muslims are in a deep sleep; they can't do anything. They have moved away from all the sciences.'
He [Al-Khwarizmi] said: 'Yes, I know that. The day will come when the Arabs will return to their glory. And you - you have a great duty, which is to take an interest in the Islamic sciences and to protect them from being forgotten.'
I said, 'I promise,' and left the door.
I turned to the next door; there Hitler awaited me. I said, 'You're the one who killed the Jews?'
He [Hitler] said: 'Yes. I killed them so you would all know that they are a nation which spreads destruction all over the world. And what I ask of you is to be resilient and patient, concerning the suffering that Palestine is experiencing at their hands.'
I said [to Hitler]: 'Thanks for the advice.'
Then I turned to the third door, and met Naguib Mahfouz [Nobel Prize- winning Egyptian author], who was the one who knew best the value of time and how to use it.
He said: 'People's pastime, these days, has become killing time and wasting it, as though they are punishing themselves. So strive to use your time in the best way.'
At the fourth door I meet Saladin Al-Ayoubi [Muslim leader who defeated the Christian crusaders and conquered Jerusalem in the twelfth century]. He said: 'I am Saladin.'
I said: 'You were the one who liberated Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa [Mosque].' He answered: 'Yes.'
I said: 'Return, oh Saladin, for Jerusalem and Palestine cry out and no one answers.'
He [Saladin] said: 'I know, but every time has its men, and the right man to liberate Jerusalem is still to come.'
And before I could finish my dream, the alarm clock rang and I woke up. It was seven in the morning, and I needed to go to school early, because I had promised Naguib Mahfouz that I would use time well."
[Zayafuna, February 2011]
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The Simon Wiesenthal Center is one of the largest international Jewish human rights organizations with over 400,000 member families in the United States. It is an NGO at international agencies including the United Nations, UNESCO, the OSCE, the OAS, the Council of Europe, and the Latin American Parliament (Parlatino).