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De Beauvoir Denounces Unesco; Says Re-divided Jerusalem is Unthinkable

April 30, 1975
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Simone de Beauvoir, famed French novelist and philosopher and winner of this year’s Jerusalem Prize said here last night that to re-divide Jerusalem would be unthinkable. In an address delivered after Mayor Teddy Kollek had awarded her the prize, de Beauvoir flayed UNESCO for its “stupid and discriminatory” resolutions against Israel over its activities in Jerusalem.

Her own tour of the city earlier in the day had shown her that Israel’s new buildings did not spoil the character of this city, she asserted. The buildings were sited on wasteland, at a sufficient distance from the city walls and other ancient edifices. The archaeological digs, moreover (the subject of UNESCO’s action against Israel) far from despoiling the Arab character of the city uncovered the buried glories of the city’s Moslem history along with its historical treasures during other ages.

De Beauvoir said she knew the unification of Jerusalem “posed problems” for some of its residents. But the solution, she said, must not lie in the city’s re-division. On the broader Mideast conflict she spoke of the Palestinian problem, urging a solution for this in the context of an overall settlement–but stressing that no solution which involved the destruction of Israel’s political sovereignty could be in any way acceptable.

She said she generally refused prizes and spurned ceremonies, but she had decided to accept the Jerusalem Prize and attend this ceremony–marking the opening of the biennial Jerusalem Book Fair–to demonstrate her love of Israel. Sharply criticizing UNESCO, she said the organization had sought to “symbolically” eradicate Israel. But symbolism could quickly be translated into reality, she warned.

Premier Yitzhak Rabin said of her: “She displayed great courage in the fight…for equality and freedom within nations and among nations. Simone de Beauvoir is the symbol of a writer fulfilling his mission.” The prize was awarded to de Beauvoir for her contribution to “the freedom of the individual.” The panel, headed by Supreme Court Justice Haim Cohn, singled out her work, “The Second Sex,” as a “deep work of research” into the role of women in a free society. The other judges were Profs. Alice Shali and Dan Pagiss of the Hebrew University.

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