The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, better known as UNESCO, has cut off funding for a Palestinian youth magazine after it published an article praising Adolf Hitler.
According to UNESCO, in the February 2011 issue of Zayzafouna, an article appeared written by a ten year-old girl in which she dreamed that Der Fuhrer told her he killed Jews so you would all know that they are a nation who wreaks havoc on earth.
The ‘dream’ Hitler also tells the girl to be resilient and patient concerning the suffering that Palestine is experiencing at their hands.
Hitler was celebrated as one of four role models in the article.
Zayzafouna is published under the patronage of the Palestinian National Commission for UNESCO, which is the national body set up by the Palestinian Authority, the western-supported government in the West Bank.
According to reports, the article was brought to UNESCO’s attention by Palestinian Media Watch (PMA), an Israeli group that monitors Palestinian publications.
PMA stated that “the magazine portrays a world where ‘Palestine’ has replaced Israel by referring to Israeli cities such as Haifa and Jaffa as places in ‘Palestine’ or as ‘occupied’ cites. It denies Israel's right to exist by saying that Israel is on ‘stolen’ or ‘occupied’ land, and demonizes Israel and Jews.”
In a statement, UNESCO said that while it “upholds freedom of expression as an integral part of its mandate, the inclusion in this publication of a statement that may be interpreted as an apology [for] the Holocaust is contrary to UNESCO’s constitutional mandate and values. It is totally unacceptable.”
The UN agency further said that it “deplores and condemns the reproduction of such inflammatory statements in a magazine associated with UNESCO’s name and mission and will not provide any further support to the publication in question.”
The Palestinian Authority also criticized the article.
Ghassan Khatib, a spokesman for the Palestinian Authority, told reporters: We educate young people in our textbooks about the Holocaust and the massacres of Hitler against Jews and against others, and we refer to these massacres as crimes against humanity. This instance is exceptional, and the editor will try to be more careful in the future.
However, Shareef Samhan, the magazine’s director, defended the article,
We depend in the content of our magazine on the participation of school students, and it's not our job to prohibit the freedom of speech, he told reporters.
Ironically, the Palestinian flag was raised at UNESCO in Paris only two weeks ago, amidst objections from Israel and the U.S.