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US rejoins UNESCO, reversing Trump administration pullout over anti-Israel bias

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The Biden administration rejoined the the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, reversing at the Trump administration’s decision in 2017 to pull out of the organization over its anti-Israel bias.

The Biden administration had sought reentry in part because China is becoming preeminent in the organization at a time when the body, which shapes international cooperation on cultural and science issues, is taking a role in writing artificial intelligence policy.

“In pursuing full membership with UNESCO, the United States makes clear its commitment to multilateralism and diplomacy on critical issues, including protection of journalists, expanding access to education, shaping best practices on new and emerging technologies, protecting cultural heritage, and remembering the immeasurable toll of the Holocaust to ensure such atrocities never happen again,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who is Jewish, said Friday in a statement.

Israel and the United States both announced their intention to withdraw in 2017, and Israel’s withdrawal took effect on Jan. 1, 2019.

Israel and the Trump administration cited the body’s frequent criticism of Israel over its treatment of heritage sites claimed by the Palestinians, including in Hebron and Jerusalem. UNESCO frequently referred to the Temple Mount, one of the holiest sites in Judaism and Islam, only by its Arabic name, Al-Haram al-Sharif.

The Trump administration’s statement at the time cited “the need for fundamental reform in the organization, and continuing anti-Israel bias at UNESCO.”

The United States had supplied 22% of UNESCO’s budget before leaving the organization and will be expected to return to that level of funding upon re-entry. The return is a victory for Audrey Azoulay, the French Jewish director general of the body, who has for years lobbied for the return of Israel and the United States.


The post US rejoins UNESCO, reversing Trump administration pullout over anti-Israel bias appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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Treasure Trove recalls a time when the Kingdom of Jordan’s pavilion at the World’s Fair generated controversy, protests and a court battle

In this pamphlet, the country of Jordan is billed as the “The Holy Land”. This material introduced visitors to the Kingdom of Jordan pavilion at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York City. Ironically, the motto of the fair was “Peace Through Understanding”.  It describes a pavilion that includes a “photographic survey of the Holy […]

The post Treasure Trove recalls a time when the Kingdom of Jordan’s pavilion at the World’s Fair generated controversy, protests and a court battle appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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A shooting at Bais Chaya Mushka Elementary School involving two suspects is being investigated by Toronto Police

Bais Chaya Mushka Elementary School, located near the Finch and Dufferin intersection in Toronto, had shots fired in its direction Saturday at 4:52 a.m. The incident was captured on a security video. The suspects can be seen getting out of a dark-coloured vehicle and opening fire on the school, which serves the Hasidic community with […]

The post A shooting at Bais Chaya Mushka Elementary School involving two suspects is being investigated by Toronto Police appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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At Cannes, Iranian Director Rasoulof Recalls Difficult Exile Decision

FILE PHOTO: Cast member Setareh Maleki and director Mohammad Rasoulof attend a press conference for “The Seed of the Sacred Fig” (Les Graines du figuier sauvage) in competition at the 77th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France, May 25, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Stephane Mahe/File Photo

Iranian director Mohammad Rasoulof recalled how he had to decide within hours whether to go into exile or serve a prison sentence, saying it was still difficult to talk about it during a press conference at the Cannes Film Festival on Saturday.

Rasoulof was in the French Riviera town for the premiere of his new drama “The Seed of the Sacred Fig,” almost two weeks after announcing he had fled Iran and entered into exile in the wake of his sentencing to eight years in jail and flogging.

After he learned that he had a week left before his sentence would be implemented, things moved quickly, he said, especially as authorities had caught wind of the existence of his new film.

“I had to say to myself, well, do I want to be in prison, or should I leave Iran, geographic Iran, and join the cultural Iran that exists beyond its borders?” recalled the director.

“It took me two hours to make the decision. I walked around, I paced around my house. I said goodbye to my plants that I love, and I have many, many plants in my house,” he added.

Then, Rasoulof left all his belongings and walked out of the house. “It’s not an easy decision to take. It still isn’t easy even to talk about it today with you,” he told journalists.

Iran‘s culture minister Mohammad Mehdi Esmaili told state media this month that Rasoulof’s film had been made illegally and there would be a crackdown on movies without permits.

“The Seed of the Sacred Fig” is about a court official who grows increasingly controlling of his family during the 2022 protests over the death of Mahsa Amini, a Kurdish woman arrested by the morality police for allegedly flouting dress codes.

The film drew the longest standing ovation at the festival after its premiere on Friday night and was well received by critics who called it “mesmerizingly gripping” and “shattering.”

The director, who has been arrested and detained several times for charges ranging from filming without a permit to “collusion against national security,” said that the idea for the film came from years of confrontation with secret services.

“All these characters were inspired by real people, all the scenes come from real situations,” he said, adding that experience has also made him adept at avoiding secret services.

“Our life is fairly similar to that of gangsters, except we are gangsters of the cinema,” he joked at the news conference.

The post At Cannes, Iranian Director Rasoulof Recalls Difficult Exile Decision first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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