UNESCO Artist of Peace Laureate Denies He will Perform in Israel and Claims Unaware He Shook Hands with Israeli Ambassador

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"UNESCO must strip this hypocritical warmonger of his undeserved 'Artist of Peace' Award...The appointment of Naseer Shamma to this prestigious status only diminishes its value and integrity"

Paris, 6 March 2017

In a letter to UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Culture, Francesco Bandarin, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre Director for International Relations, Dr. Shimon Samuels, urged "an investigation into the designation of Iraqi Oud star,Naseer Shammah, as 2017 UNESCO Artist of Peace, in view of his belligerent expressions against the State of Israel."

"If the award was granted based upon an incomplete enquiry to substantiate his merit, UNESCO must strip this hypocritical warmonger of his undeserved 'Artist of Peace' Award," argued the Centre

The letter noted that "Israeli media were jubilant at Iraqi Oud music star, Naseer Shamma's peace handshake with Israeli Ambassador Carmel Shama Hacohen and their joking at their common surname, in the presence of UNESCO Director- General, Irina Bokova at the Paris ceremony announcing Shamma as 'UNESCO Artist of Peace Laureate 2017'
http://www.ynet.co.il/articles/0,7340,L-4927938,00.html -  See photo of handshake. "Then came the cold shower," lamented Samuels
See Naseer Shamma Official Facebook 2 March 2017 https://www.facebook.com/Naseer.Shamma.Official/posts/1099624818396

Clarification of what came out in the Israeli press:

"...during my inauguration celebration as UNESCO artist for peace amid a global presence which,for the most part, I did not know personally."
"Daily I shake hands with dozens transparently. However... I can not shake hands with a gloved hand ... it was incumbent upon the Ambassador of Israel that he leave me the freedom to exercise my options ...but he did not come to me declaring himself as Israel ambassador, acting to publish a picture or a story of which I was innocent, and in my ignorance, like the innocent wolf from the blood of Joseph"

"Innocent as the Wolf of Joseph's Blood (Islamic Foklore)

"For Palestine is in my heart, I do not have to confirm it .
UNESCO, which has given me the honor of representing the relationship between art and peace, does not recognize the occupation, as evidenced by the recent resolution on Jerusalem..."

He ends the post with the following remark:
"I did not know that the man who came to me twice and the third time requested for a photo with me, was the Israeli ambassador, A fact that it is still not clear to some"

Samuels stressed that "Israeli and Arab media reported that the Iraqi was ready to perform in Israel... Yet this was patently false and aimed at UNESCO to justify his prize. The proof was exposed not only in his denial following the award event,but his anti-Israel belligerence expressed publicly in the past"


Naseer Shamma was a guest on an Egyptian practical joke show (produced by E-Cloud Egypt), which initially aired on 28 October 2014. The show captures the reactions of celebrities when falsely told that they are being interviewed by an Israeli TV channel.

Before being told, Shamma had said to the interviewer:"Even if the occupied territories are returned (to the Palestinians) I will never normalize (with Israel) till the last day of my life, I am against this usurping entity"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8KhXTCtsh50 (from 11:34 -11:49)

"He walked out of the interview when he was led to believe it was for an Arabic language candid camera Israeli TV programme"

Details of the Egyptian prank TV show

The UNESCO Culture website states that "UNESCO Artists for Peace are internationally-renowned personalities who use their influence, charisma and prestige to help promote UNESCO’s message and programmes."

"The appointment of Naseer Shamma to this prestigeous status only diminishes the value of the Award", concluded Samuels

For further information, please contact Shimon Samuels on +33 609 77 01 58, join the Center on Facebook, www.facebook.com/simonwiesenthalcenter, or follow @simonwiesenthal for news updates sent direct to your Twitter feed.

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).