October 29, 2017
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Trump Ditches UNESCO

State Department complains of mounting bills, "anti-Israel bias"

by Andrea Germanos

Citing in part its "anti-Israel bias" and otherwise complaining of costs, the Trump administration announced Thursday that the U.S. will withdraw from UNESCO, the United Nations agency focused on education, science, and culture.

A press statement from the State Department says the decision was also based on "the need for fundamental reform in the organization" as well as stacking up bills the U.S. owes UNESCO. (The Obama administration stopped making financial contributions in 2011 after it admitted Palestine as a full member, later causing the U.S. to lose its voting rights.)

Israel, however, remains a member state.

Irina Bokova, outgoing UNESCO director general, reacted to the development with "profound regret," calling "universality" key to its mission.

"At the time when the fight against violent extremism calls for renewed investment in education, in dialogue among cultures to prevent hatred, it is deeply regrettable that the United States should withdraw from the United Nations agency leading these issues," she stated.

"At the time when conflicts continue to tear apart societies across the world, it is deeply regrettable for the United States to withdraw from the United Nations agency promoting education for peace and protecting culture under attack," she added.

The decision also drew ire from progressive voices on social media.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) said the decision makes "it clear that culture, history, world heritage isn't impt to [Trump], even if it is to Americans & world."

Journalist Glenn Greenwald, meanwhile, noted that the move got a "thumbs up" from the powerful, pro-Israel lobbying group AIPAC, and added: "Amazing how the state that brutally & illegally occupies for decades is the victim."

According to economist Jeffrey David Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, the decision was made "because UNESCO promotes science, education, culture. Trump=evil."

Other observers weighed in as well:

The withdrawal, effective December 31, 2018, won't be the first for the United States. It also withdrew under the Reagan administration in 1984, and rejoined in 2002 under President George W. Bush.

This article, originally appeared on Commondreams.org, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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