SWC to UN Food and Agriculture Organisation: "What is the relationship of 'the pursuit of Judaism' to Food and Agriculture?"

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Wiesenthal Centre to UN Food and Agriculture Organisation: "Is FAO Prepared for the Cost of Palestinian Admission? The United States Obligation to Defund over 20% of the Annual Budget?"

1 March 2013

In a letter to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Director-General, Jose Graziano da Silva, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre'sDirector for International Relations, Dr. Shimon Samuels, bluntly asked "the relationship of 'the pursuit of Judaism' to food and agriculture?"

Samuels (pictured at Seminar) explained that he had "just sat through the United Nation’s seminar on 'Assistance to the Palestinian People', which will be indelibly marked by the comment of the Ambassador of Morocco – speaking for the Arab representatives on the UN Security Council - 'we are here to stop the pursuit of Judaism in Palestine.'”

The letter noted, "This three-day hatefest was hosted by the U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) in Rome - hardly consonant with its published mandate “to raise levels of nutrition, improve agricultural productivity, better the lives of rural populations and contribute to the growth of the world economy.”

Samuels pointed out that "most of the democracies: Australia, Canada, United Kingdom, United States etc., declined to attend this one-sided delegitimizing propaganda assault on Israel - a sovereign U.N. member-State.”

The letter stressed, "This litany of offence came from such questionable human rights champions as: Algeria, Afghanistan, Cuba, Namibia, Venezuela etc. Algeria, at one point, baldly endorsed “the disestablishment of Israel as a State”.

Samuels cited "invited 'expert' discussants and pet NGOs which called for:

- boycotts, expulsion of Israel from the OECD and suspension of the
European trade agreement with Israel."

- one agricultural connection was drawn with a campaign call against tax exemption status for the Jewish National Fund, an acknowledged afforestation and anti desertification agency.

- the representative of an NGO federation openly claimed that their role included "the targeting of governments, parliamentarians, UN and treaty bodies, the EU [and] media to impact public opinion."

- an Italian History Professor refreshingly explained that, as a teacher, her older students carried guilt in attitudes to Israel (hinting at the Holocaust), but 'young people are wonderfully ignorant, watch TV and ask why are the Zionists so bad? My job is to explain why that is so and shift their views.'"

Samuels emphasised to FAO, "There is a direct repercussion of such language on the intensity of anti-Semitism, particularly in Europe."

He argued, however, that "the incongruousness of such a meeting at your headquarters was perhaps addressed by:

- the Russian representative, who noted the 'symbolism of the meeting, here, where FAO works hard for the State of Palestine,'

- a Law professor who claimed, 'the real issue is membership of other UN agencies as a full State.'

- an Arab delegate confided that 'the implicit intent of this conference is to follow the UNESCO manoeuvre by admission into FAO at this April’s Council meeting, to be confirmed at the General Conference in June.'

Samuels suggested that the question relating to "'the pursuit of Judaism' to food and agriculture may no longer be germane," continuing, "the question is now very different: is FAO prepared for the cost of Palestinian admission, following the UNESCO precedent? The Congressional legislation requiring the United States to defund FAO of over 20% of its annual budget?"

"Mr. Director-General, we urge you to defend FAO’s vital mandate from the politicization and agitation propaganda we witnessed this week on your premises," concluded the Centre.

For further information please contact Shimon Samuels (00)33 609770158, join the Center on Facebook, www.facebook.com/simonwiesenthalcenter, or follow @simonwiesenthal for news updates sent direct to your Twitter page or mobile device.

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).