UNESCO criticised for 'antisemitic' Palestinian kids magazine

By Jennifer Lipman, December 22, 2011

The UN’s cultural arm has been criticised by a human rights organisation for publishing a magazine featuring an "antisemitic" article that praised Adolf Hitler.

The Simon Wiesenthal Centre took issue with the UNESCO magazine for Palestinian children, which in February 2011 carried an article by a young girl about meeting the Nazi leader in a dream.

In the piece for Zayzafuna, the girl wrote that Hitler told her he killed the Jews "so you would all know that they are a nation who spreads destruction all over the world".

Palestinian Media Watch said that Zayafuna’s articles also included "terms glorifying jihad".

The centre called on Unesco to cut funding for the publication. Earlier this year Unesco members voted to allow the Palestinians membership, against the wishes of the United States.

The UNESCO director general Irina Bokova told the centre that they were taking the matter seriously and would bring it to the attention of those in charge of the magazine.

But Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder and dean of the centre, said the response did not go far enough and that the magazine should no longer be funded.

"Can you imagine the audacity of a magazine that supposedly promotes tolerance and democracy using Adolph Hitler as a model? We call on UNESCO to immediately end funding to the Zayafuna magazine," he said.

"It is exactly this kind of behaviour by the Palestinians in the educational and cultural domain that makes such a mockery of UNESCO's recent admission of Palestine as a full member."

Shimon Samuels, director of international relations for the centre, added: "Until Zayafuna publicly apologizes for its antisemitism, Palestine will have already failed [the] test" of living up the standards of UNESCO membership.

Last updated: 3:34pm, December 22 2011