“When all the nations of the earth gather against her. In that day, I will make Yerushalayim a stone for all the peoples to lift; all who lift it shall injure themselves.” Zechariah 12:3 (The Israel Bible™)
The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) chose Audrey Azoulay, France’s former Minister of Culture, as their Director General on Friday.
UNESCO’s executive board voted 30 to 28 in favor of Azoulay, rejecting Qatar’s Hamad Bin Abdul Aziz Al-Kawari, who has been accused of anti-Semitism. Azoulay must still be approved by UNESCO’s 195 members when they meet in November. If accepted, she will be the second French head of the organization, the second woman, and the first Jewish director general of UNESCO.
Azoulay’s success comes one day after the U.S. and Israel announced they will be leaving the organization due to its anti-Israel bias. Azoulay will succeed outgoing Director-General Irina Bokova of Bulgaria, who served an eight-year term plagued by serious financial straits made even worse by the U.S.-Israeli departure. In 2011, the U.S. began withholding payments after UNESCO included the Palestinian Authority as a member state.
“In this moment of crisis, I believe we must invest in UNESCO more than ever, look to support and reinforce it and to reform it. And not leave it,” Azoulay said in a brief statement to the press concerning the U.S. decisi0n.
Azoulay was born in Paris to a Moroccan Jewish family. She is the daughter of André Azoulay, current adviser to King Mohammed VI of Morocco. Azoulay has stated that she “grew up in a very left-wing environment” “politicized on the Israeli–Palestinian conflict”.
It is as yet unclear whether Azoulay’s Jewish identity will influence how UNESCO treats Israel. The UN body is notorious for its anti-Israel bias, and several times yearly passes resolutions which deny the Jewish connection to Israel’s holiest sites. In July, UNESCO declared the city of Hebron a “Palestinian World Heritage Site”, ignoring the site’s much more ancient ties to Judaism and the Bible.
In response, the Hebron Fund organization circulated an online petition calling on UNESCO to reject the Palestinian “fake history ploy” against Israel. The petition, which recieved over 40,000 signatures, will be presented to leaders and lawmakers at the UN and in the US.