U.S. cites anti-Israel bias in withdrawal from the UN’s Educational Scientific and Cultural Org.
A common narrative portrays the current administration as a largely white male group of chummy individuals who play golf, harass women and roll back the hands of time. The issue is not that this administration is inactive, but rather the actions it takes consistently compromise the quality of life for people of different backgrounds.
There are rampant deportations, national isolationism, Muslim travel bans, national-security-compromising cyber threats, bowing out of environmental agreements, diminished birth control options, race-baiting Black professional athletes and victim-blaming Caribbean people of color facing post-hurricane humanitarian crises.
Many American people should not be surprised by much. And yet, the announcement of U.S. withdrawal from the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (effective in December 2018) adds to a predictably skewed legacy.
The U.S. State Department accused UNESCO of “anti-Israel bias.” In an allied move of mirroring, Israel announced its withdrawal from UNESCO. Similarly, the U.S. sent the U.N. a Pro-Israel message in 2011 under President Barack Obama. After the United Nations granted Palestine full membership, the U.S. stopped paying its dues but did not then withdraw membership.
“At the time when conflicts continue to tear apart societies across the world, it is deeply regrettable for the United States to withdraw from the United Nations agency promoting education for peace and protecting culture under attack,” Director-General of UNESCO Irina Bokova said via statement. “This is a loss to the United Nations family. This is a loss for multilateralism.”
UNESCO focuses on “coordinating international cooperation in education, science, culture and communication.” Part of the organization’s work is educational and human rights advocacy by way of gender parity, clean water and literacy initiatives. UNESCO identifies Word Heritage Sites under the premise that people should appreciate the cultural, scientific and natural significance of specific spaces and people’s unique connections with the spaces.
One must consider why this particular allegation of bias so rankles the Trump administration, while consistent and systematic attacks on people of color in America do not.