Israel's ambassador to UNESCO didn't know whether to laugh or cry when a senior official at the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization called him in for a tongue-lashing on Wednesday. The reason? A cartoon published in Haaretz.I could be wrong, but I interpreted the cartoon as being against striking Iran by pointing out the absurdity of an airstrike on UNESCO "on the way back" - meaning it is the exact opposite of incitement. Or perhaps the cartoonist was against what he felt was Israel's disproportionate reaction to UNESCO accepting "Palestine" as a member.
The November 4 cartoon, a riff on the government's anger at UNESCO's decision to accept Palestine as a full member, showed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak sending an air force squadron to attack Iran, with Netanyahu ordering, "And on your way back, you're gonna hit the UNESCO office in Ramallah!"
When he met with Eric Falt, UNESCO's assistant director general for external relations and public information, Ambassador Nimrod Barkan was stunned to be handed a copy of this cartoon and an official letter of protest from UNESCO's director general, Irina Bokova. Falt told Barkan the cartoon constituted incitement.
"A cartoon like this endangers the lives of unarmed diplomats, and you have an obligation to protect them," Falt said, according to an Israeli source. "We understand that there is freedom of the press in Israel, but the government must prevent attacks on UNESCO."
Barkan pointed out that the government has no control over editorial cartoons printed in the papers. "Ask yourselves what you did to make a moderate paper with a deeply internationalist bent publish such a cartoon," he suggested. "Perhaps the problem is with you."
After Barkan reported the conversation to the Foreign Ministry, it cabled back: "What exactly does UNESCO want of us - to send our fine boys to protect UNESCO's staff, or to shut down the paper? It seems your work environment is getting more and more reminiscent of 'Animal Farm.'"
Either way, it appears that the Islamic-dominated UNESCO is teaching that organization how to properly react to cartoons that they find distasteful.
Another possibility is that now that UNESCO is now including Hamas as part of the "unity" Palestinian Arab delegation, perhaps they think that since at least one of their members has no problem attacking UN facilities when it serves their purposes, all of their members must be the same.
You know, equality.
Or maybe now that UNESCO is hurting financially,they just want some free security provided by Israel.