PARIS - The World Jewish Congress’ Jewish Diplomatic Corps gathered in Paris this week for a three-day European regional meeting, with discussions focusing on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and meetings with high-level representatives of that UN body. While in Paris, the JDs also had an opportunity to meet with CRIF President Francis Kalifat and Executive Director Robert Ejnes to discuss the ongoing challenges facing the French Jewish community and work toward strengthening the cooperation between CRIF and the WJC JDCorps.
The aim of the meetings with UNESCO was to provide the WJC Jewish Diplomats (JDs) with a deeper understanding of the dynamics and the challenges it currently faces, and discuss the ways in which the JDs could strengthen their cooperation with UNESCO.
During the meetings, the JDs had an opportunity to hear more about the efforts by UNESCO on Holocaust education and combating anti-Semitism and other forms of hate, the preservation of cultural heritage, and other areas of work UNESCO is currently engaged in. The WJC and UNESCO recently signed an agreement to initiate together an innovate website dedicated to Holocaust education, which will be launched in January ahead of International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
In an open exchange of views with the representatives, the JDs addressed the bias against Israel and the anti-Israel resolutions which are often adopted by UNESCO’s governing bodies, the ongoing politicization which is currently plaguing the organization and the need for UNESCO to focus on its original mandate through much needed reform. These points were further emphasized during meetings with several Permanent Delegations to UNESCO that took place the next morning.
WJC Chief Program Officer Sonia Gomes de Mesquita described the discussions as comprehensive and informative, and welcomed the opportunity to delve into the many arenas in which UNESCO operates.
“The World Jewish Congress and its Jewish Diplomatic Corps see high value in UNESCO and its work, as well as the strong relationships we have built with outgoing Director General Irina Bokova and her professional staff over the last few years,” said Gomes de Mesquita. “We are duly concerned by the bias and double standards far too often exhibited by its member states, but are encouraged that reforms are possible and are looking forward to future cooperation to help UNESCO in its mandate of promoting collaboration among nations in the important fields of education, science, and culture.”