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Wiesenthal Center Commends UNESCO Executive Board's Election of New Director-General

Los Angeles and Paris, 22 September 2009

In a letter to United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Executive Board Chairman, Ambassador Olabiyi Babalola Joseph Yai of Benin, the Simon Wiesenthal Centrer's Dean and Founder, Rabbi Marvin Hier, commended the 58 State body on "its election of Bulgarian Ambassador, Irina Bokova, as UNESCO's next Director-General."

"Our Center has been monitoring this important race since May 2008, when Egyptian candidate, Farouk Hosni made his outrageous announcement of intent to burn Hebrew books," said Rabbi Hier.

"While this same candidate had hosted a notorious Holocaust denier, the Bulgarian victor represents a country that had protected its entire Jewish population from Nazi extermination," he added.

The Center's Director for International Relations, Dr. Shimon Samuels, stated,"The voices of reason had been heard in this election," and congratulated Bulgaria and its former Foreign Minister Bokova on their uplifting victory.

"The Wiesenthal Center has maintained a close working relationship with UNESCO, on tolerance education, throughout the administrations of Directors-General Federico Mayor Zaragoza and Koichiro Matsuura, we look forward to enhancing those ties under the leadership of Madame Irina Bokova," Samuels concluded.

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).

For more information, please contact the Center's Public Relations Department, 310-553-9036, join the Center on Facebook,, or follow @simonwiesenthal for news updates sent direct to your Twitter page or mobile device.

For further information contact Public Relations at 310.553.9036 (Los Angeles) or Shimon Samuels on +33609770158.