UNESCO feigns outrage over satirical Ha’aretz cartoon

For a body supposedly dealing with the subject of culture, UNESCO has shown remarkably little appreciation of Israeli political culture in its protest over a cartoon published in Ha’aretz (of all places) earlier this month.

In fact we are informed that an official complaint has been filed by UNESCO. 

Of course anyone with any understanding of the Israeli political scene would immediately recognise that this cartoon is in fact a criticism of Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defence Minister Barak whom the Left-leaning Ha’aretz is taking to task for what it sees as too hawkish a position on the subject of the Iranian nuclear issue and over-sensitivity towards the recent UNESCO acceptance of the Palestinian bid for membership.

UNESCO, however, elected to relate to it somewhat differently.

“A cartoon like this endangers the lives of unarmed diplomats, and you have an obligation to protect them,” Falt said, according to an Israeli source. “We understand that there is freedom of the press in Israel, but the government must prevent attacks on UNESCO.”

‘Endangers the lives’?

Really?

Yes, air raids on UNESCO offices?!

However, I am happy to report that the Israeli Foreign Ministry responded to the complaint in a wholly appropriate manner.

“After Barkan [the Israeli Ambassador to UNESCO] reported the conversation to the Foreign Ministry, it cabled back: “What exactly does UNESCO want of us – to send our fine boys to protect UNESCO’s staff, or to shut down the paper? It seems your work environment is getting more and more reminiscent of ‘Animal Farm.'”

Joking aside, one must echo the concerns of UN Watch on this subject.

“In June 2010, UN Watch raised the issue of anti-Semitic and racist caricatures that regularly appear in the state-controlled press of Jordan, Syria, Qatar, Oman and elsewhere. Our compelling testimony before the UN Human Rights Council described several cartoons that we showed were “reminiscent of the Nazi era.” We wonder whether the UNESCO chief or her spokesman have ever said anything about those cartoons.

Many of the cartoons depict the UN as being controlled by evil Jewish forces. We are not aware of any UN agency having ever been concerned about the safety of its staff based on what they show.”

Al-Watan, Oman, 2009

Double standards and selective outrage at the UN? Well, that long since ceased to be a culture shock.

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