The campaign of Egypt’s Culture Minister Farouk Hosni to head UNESCO is encountering racist anti-Arab and anti-Muslim opposition on the level of the blood libel and from (mostly) Jewish sources that have always complained of anti-Semitism while practising what they preach against.
For Arab readers, the blood libel goes back centuries and refers to an egregious lie that Jews use the blood of Christian children in baking a cake, or matzoh, for some of their religious practices.
This week, representatives of UNESCO’s 58-state Executive Council began meeting in Paris to elect a successor to Japan’s Koichiro Matsuura who completes two terms as director general in November. The first vote will be on Sept. 17 and five rounds of voting are expected before a winner emerges and is approved by UNESCO’s 193-assembly in October.
As I write Hosni is the favourite in a field of nine candidates having secured the backing of the Arab League, the African Union and the Organization of the Islamic Conference. He is followed closely by Benita Ferrero-Waldner, a former Austrian foreign minister who is backed by many European countries. The Europeans have two other candidates, Ina Marciulionyte of Latvia and Irina Gueeorguieva Bokova of Bulgaria. If the European vote remains split among the three candidates, Farouk Hosni will cruise to the finish, but there is every likelihood that they will end up with one candidate. The Americans oppose his candidacy for Israeli reasons while not admitting it.
The Egyptian culture minister has served in government for over two decades and all his battles and encounters have been with Islamist extremists. He has dared to oppose the hijab, and not only the niqab or burqa, and the Islamist have called for his head in return. It is ironic that he now finds the Islamist and pro-Israel elements in the same trench fighting him.
After The Three Musketeers, the Hosni campaign has inspired The Three Apologists, or Elie Wiesel, Bernard-Henri Levy and Claude Lanzmann who jointly penned an article in Le Monde accusing the Egyptian candidate of “rampant Judeophobia”, calling his candidacy scandalous and talking of “the shame of a disaster foretold.”
The shame is on the writers of the racist screed. They may be a holocaust merchant (as Norman Finklestein would have put it), a philosopher and a film producer but first and foremost they are apologists for a fascist country with a government that kills women and children, builds settlements in Palestinian land (all Israel is an illegal outpost until an independent Palestinian state is created), and has turned Gaza Strip into an open air Nazi concentration camp.
The shame is also in the brazen lie, repeated by Levy, that Farouk Hosni burns books or wants to burn them, itching to see a book so that he may burn it. The lie, like the blood libel, goes back to the time when an Islamist member of the Egyptian Parliament, Mohsen Radi, told Hosni that the Library of Alexandria includes books written by Jews attacking Islam, not just books by Israelis as reported. The minister said there were no such books and the MP insisted that there were. He even followed Hosni to an aisle outside to insist that there were such books. Certain that there weren’t, Hosni told him, “Bring me the books and I will burn them myself”. In a way, he was defending Jews against the accusation of writing anti-Islamic books. The Israel apologists rehashed the story to suit their prejudices and I condemn them and see their Big Lie as the blood libel revisited by its victims and used against others.
Levy wrote recently against putting UNESCO in the hands of a “culture cop”. He is a “culture terrorist”, and a nauseating fabricator of a new form of the blood libel. There are other Jews, thank God, and all the Levys of the world do not match the honour and integrity of Israeli University professors like Ilan Pappe, or journalists like Amira Hass or peace advocates like Peace Now and B’Tselem
Is it not strange that the survivors of the Nazis and their descendents have created the only neo-Nazi state in the world today? Is it not strange that the people who have made a living of attacking anti-semitic practices are employing the methods of the anti-semites in attacking innocent people? Is it not strange that the main reason for the continuing anti-semitism around the world today is Israel and its apologists? Is it not strange that the Internet carries tens of thousands of stories/lies about Farouk Hosni burning books written or promoted by people who have been complaining for decades about the Nazis burning Jewish books in 1933?
May I propose candidates for the UNESCO post who will win the blessing of the apologists? I suggest Benjamin Netanyahu, the rabid Israeli prime minister who once said how he felt proud (being a terrorist) blowing up Lebanese civilian aircraft at Beirut Airport in 1968. Or maybe the bouncer from Moldova Avigdor Lieberman whose thuggish persona best represents Israel. Otherwise, there is Meir Dagan who killed Palestinians with his hands in Gaza in the seventies and continues to kill them today.
Israel and its apologists shame the Jews and all humanity.