A senior Palestinian Authority diplomat has refused to defend an initiative aimed at ensuring that the United Nations recognizes the historical significance of posters opposing the Israeli occupation.Electronic Intifada and Sanbar are lying. Antisemitism isn't the reason that UNESCO's director-general was against including these posters - it was because so many of them glorified violence, as I mentioned earlier this year: She said some of the posters “would seem totally unacceptable and run counter to the values of UNESCO and its aspiration to build peace in the minds of men and women.”
Next month, a program run by UNESCO — the UN’s educational, scientific and cultural organization — will approve a number of collections of documents deemed to have historical and universal value.
Approximately 1,600 Palestine-themed posters are among the nominations to Memory of the World, as the program is known.
The nomination has been strenuously opposed by a pro-Israel lobby group, the World Jewish Congress, which has argued that the UN should not associate itself with the posters as they “could fuel hatred and anti-Semitic perceptions.”
Supporters of the collection approached the Palestinian Authority seeking help in countering the pro-Israel lobby.
Elias Sanbar, the PA’s ambassador to UNESCO, refused to help.
In an email message, seen by The Electronic Intifada, Sanbar stated that he would not get involved in the issue because the feeling that some of the posters were anti-Semitic was shared by Irena Bokova, UNESCO’s director-general.
“Some of the posters, as I have been told, are ‘anti-semitic,’” wrote Sanbar, who is based in Paris. “As I have not seen the posters, I have no opinion on this fact. But this is the official opinion of the DG of UNESCO. And you will understand that I won’t let my delegation enter into this debate.”
The email message was sent in late February.
Dan Walsh, who has assembled the collection, said he was “stunned” by Sanbar’s attitude.
“It completely contradicts Palestine’s push to legitimate the country’s cultural patrimony via the United Nations,” Walsh added.
The PA’s refusal to cooperate represents something of a U-turn. Last year, the PA formally requested that UNESCO recognize the collection’s significance. Palestine has been a member of the organization since 2011.
Bokova may have bowed to pressure from the Israel lobby. She has reportedly threatened to veto a decision by a UNESCO international advisory committee if it approves the collection at a meeting in Abu Dhabi during the first week of October.
Walsh described the veto threat as “malfeasance.”
“It is not being used to advance the goals of the UN or UNESCO but rather the goals of Zionism,” he said.
Last year I noticed that the collection didn't have any Palestinian posters created before 1967. (It has one painting labeled 1960, but I think that is a typo since the rest of the series is from 1970.)
So this collection which is meant to show the history of Palestinian Arab nationalism through the medium of posters shows it quite clearly - there was very little such nationalism before 1967. I don't think that is the message that the curator wants to give to the world, however.
Despite Dan Walsh's clear anti-Zionist feelings, I happen to love the larger collection which includes incredible Zionist posters, as well as many of my own creations, which is most flattering. (I have lots more, Dan, if you are reading.)
It also is fascinating look at the evolution of Palestinian Arab political thought and propaganda - for example, trying to equate their movement with the Vietnamese or early attempts to use choldren's and women's rights as a weapon against Israel.
But I was wondering if any of the posters in the collection are in fact antisemitic.
Most of them certainly aren't. . Many are filled with lies, including fake quotes and other falsehoods, along with others that promote violence and terror. Some are truly disgusting, promoting child soldiers and celebrating the worst terror attacks against Jewish civilians,
But blatant antisemitism? Not too much.
Here is one:
This one can be considered antisemitic:
Some other Palestinian posters were antisemitic but were not included in the smaller collection meant for UNESCO. For example:
But I'm not seeing much else from the Arab side in the 1960s and 1970s.
I do see antisemitic posters by Jews, unfortunately, like this one that draws Hitler mustaches on children in a poster for Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria:
Whether or not UNESCO decides to incorporate these posters, I think that the project is a remarkable resource.