Posted by on November 03, 2011 in Blog

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) conducts poverty-eradication and development work for roughly 600 million people around the globe. Additional far-reaching efforts include the protection of historic heritage sites, world literacy programs, gender equality initiatives, and countless other needed services.

On Monday, Congress cut 22% of UNESCO’s budget, in an effort to punish Palestinians.

Last Friday, Reps. Steve Israel (D-NY) and Tom Cole (R-OK) distributed a Dear Colleague letter to other members of Congress, asking them to sign an appeal to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton calling on her to “deny any bid for membership the Palestinian Authority submits.” On Monday, when UNESCO voted to admit Palestine as a member, Israel, Cole, and a number of their colleagues supported the standing U.S. provision to cut aid to all U.N. agencies that recognize Palestine, costing UNESCO 22% of its budget–over $70million–in one stroke.

Even Reps. Israel and Cole themselves recognize that “UNESCO is responsible for many projects that the United States believes strongly in” and concede that “if the United States were forced to stop contributing financially to UNESCO, it would be a loss to communities around the globe, including within the United States.”

Despite the incredible damage our funding withdrawal will do to millions around the world who depend on UNESCO to protect their livelihoods, Congress appears to be willing to ignore the consequences of this law while maintaining a counterproductive stand with Israel. Cutting funds to UNESCO accomplishes nothing good. It will not stop the Palestinian bid for statehood, and it will not discourage other U.N. agencies from following UNESCO’s example. It will simply harm the safety and stability of millions, and cost the U.S. a great deal of credibility in the international arena.

Luckily, Israel and Cole only managed to get four other signatures for their letter – Laura Richardson (D-CA), Steven Rothman (D-NJ), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), and Michael Grimm (R-NY). If you’re represented by one of these six, call their office and let them know that American representatives shouldn’t be jeopardizing American interests–and global stability–for punitive gestures.

If not, urge your representative to repeal the ridiculous law that forces the U.S. to drop any U.N. agency that recognizes Palestine.



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