UNESCO has cut off funding to a Palestinian children’s magazine that was revealed to have featured articles glorifying Adolf Hitler.
A human rights organisation, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, had sent a public letter of complaint to the UN’s cultural arm about its sponsorship of the ‘antisemitic’ publication, Zayzafuna.
A February 2011 edition had included a piece glorifying jihad. The author of the article, a young girl, wrote of meeting the Nazi leader in a dream and being told that he killed the Jews "so you would all know that they are a nation who spreads destruction all over the world".
The Simon Wiesenthal Centre called for UNESCO to stop funding the publication, while the US ambassador to UNESCO demanded immediate action “to let the Palestinians know that the kind of antisemitic, anti-Israel venom their educational system and media is introducing to young Palestinians is not the way forward towards tolerance, respect and peace".
Earlier this year UNESCO members allowed the Palestinians to join the organisation, which is based in Paris.
UNESCO director general Irina Bokova said that membership involved more than just raising the flag.
“While UNESCO upholds freedom of expression as an integral part of its mandate, the inclusion in this publication of a statement that may be interpreted as an apology of the Holocaust is contrary to UNESCO’s constitutional mandate and values. It is totally unacceptable.”
The decision to cut funding was praised by Jewish groups. David Harris, executive director of the American Jewish Committee, said that while ideally UNESCO would have recognised sooner that its funds were being misused to promote such vile hatred of Jews,” he was pleased that that Ms Bokova had reacted decisively.
“We trust that, against this revealing backdrop, UNESCO will immediately take all necessary further steps to investigate how its funding of Palestinian projects is, in fact, being used,” he added.
Elan Steinberg, vice president of the American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors and their Descendants, welcomed UNESCO’s decision “to separate itself from a most vile expression of hate and race baiting”.
He said: “As victims of the horrors of Nazi brutality, we learned with deep shock that a Palestinian children's magazine could approvingly speak of Hitler's extermination of Jews as an example to be emulated.
"This was monstrous and grotesque.”