November 01, 2011

UNESCO has morals on #Palestine; the US doesn't

Now, UNESCO's had its share of problems over the years and decades. A decade ago, it was the hands-down winner as the UN's most kleptocratic agency. It also had a reputation for anti-Semitism, which complicates its action yesterday.

Nonetheless, it must be applauded for the principle of admitting Palestine as a member nation Monday.

Likewise, the Obama Administration U.S., in what cannot merely be ascribed to electoral politics pandering, given what the al Jazeera papers have shown about American one-sidedness, has cut off all future funding for UNESCO.

U.S. petulance, though, was exceeded by that of Israel:
Before the vote, Israel's outspoken foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, said that if the measure passed, Israel should cut off ties with the Palestinian Authority. It was not clear whether he was voicing government policy.
Even France has morals, voting Yes instead of abstaining. Of course, this is part of Sarkozy's drive to improve French power in the Mediterranean in general. However, even if some sub-Saharan African country can be accused of anti-Semitism, that's a harder charge to level at France.

And, for both Israel AND its Religious Right wingnut supporters in the U.S.,this will have fallout:
Even if the vote's impact isn't felt right away in the Mideast, it will be quickly felt at UNESCO, which protects historic heritage sites and works to improve world literacy, access to schooling for girls and cultural understanding. One of the first concrete results of Palestine's membership could be that the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem is listed as a world heritage site; the Palestinians have already prepared an application for the traditional birthplace of Jesus.
Guess what, Christmas and Easter pilgrims? You're going to be dealing with some new folks.

Meanwhile, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki says he has enough votes to win Security Council approval for membership. Given the UNESCO vote breakout, he may be right. France has shown it won't veto that, which leaves the U.S. and the U.K.

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