German Intellectuals Rap UNESCO

West German intellectuals, including Heinrich Boell, Nobel Prize winner for literature, have joined with the French and American intellectuals in refusing to cooperate in the work of UNESCO because of the organization’s decision last week to exclude Israel. Other West German intellectuals who signed a statement of protest this weekend included: Siegfried Lenz, Hilde Domin, Carola Stern, Horst Bingel, Wolfgang Weyrauch and Paul Schallueck. The statement they issued noted that the work of UNESCO “is now a perversion” and that the resolution excluding Israel indicates that the “physical destruction of Israel” was being justified through its “intellectual elimination.”

At the same time, the West German PEN Club also issued a statement sharply criticizing the UNESCO action “making further Israeli cooperation in UNESCO almost impossible.” German PEN president Hermann Kesten, said Israel should have become a member of the European regional section of UNESCO a move which had West German support. Israel, he said, had close links with Europe. Kesten said that threatened sanctions against Israel for doing archaeological work in Jerusalem would turn cultural and scientific work into a political affair.

Similarly. the International Council of Christians and Jews meeting in Cologne has censured the United Nations and UNESCO for steps “which implicitly call into question the right to political expression of the Jewish identity in the State of Israel” It accused the international bodies “of doing injustice to Israel by trying to do justice to the Arab Palestinians,” and of threatening the very existence of an independent member state of the UN.

The Council noted a disturbing lack of reaction from authoritative Christian voices, and recalled that 30 years ago ignorance and indifference had led to the destruction of one-third of the Jewish people.

(A report from Paris stated that Francoise Giroud, Secretary of State for Women’s Affairs, has refused to attend a UNESCO conference on the status of women because of the UNESCO vote hostile to Israel. “Considering the shocking position taken by UNESCO toward Israel, I do not wish to participate in any way in a meeting sponsored by this organization.” she declared.)

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