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U.S. To Leave United Nations Group Over 'Anti-Israel' Bias

by Countable | 10.12.17

What’s the story?

The State Department announced that the U.S. will be leaving the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), a group it helped found after WWII, by the end of 2018. The main issue driving the move is what the State Department calls UNESCO's "anti-Israel" bias.

Why does it matter?

According to their website, UNESCO is a global, multilateral organization focused on fostering peace through education, science and cultural initiatives:

"UNESCO works to create the conditions for dialogue among civilizations, cultures and peoples, based upon respect for commonly shared values. It is through this dialogue that the world can achieve global visions of sustainable development encompassing observance of human rights, mutual respect and the alleviation of poverty, all of which are at the heart of UNESCO’S mission and activities.”

The organization was founded after WWII. It currently has 195 member states and 10 associate members. It is best known in the U.S. for its World Heritage Sites initiative, which helps protect and maintain over 1000 cultural sites around the globe deemed to be essential to human society. There are currently 23 World Heritage sites in the U.S. It is unclear what, if anything, will happen to the designation of U.S. sites when the U.S. exits.

The U.S. left UNESCO once before, in 1984 under President Ronald Reagan, over concerns about corruption and an ideological slant towards the Soviet Union. The U.S. returned in 2002, under President George W. Bush, as a move towards advancing human rights and tolerance.

In 2011 the U.S. stopped paying its $80 million annual dues to UNESCO because the organization admitted Palestine as a member state. U.S. law does not allow financial contributions to any organization that admits Palestine as a member.

In an official statement State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert argued that ‘anti-Israel’ bias was a significant part of why the U.S. is leaving UNESCO:

"This decision was not taken lightly, and reflects U.S. concerns with mounting arrears at UNESCO, the need for fundamental reform in the organization, and continuing anti-Israel bias at UNESCO.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the move, calling it "brave and moral", according to Reuters.

Since going into arrears the U.S. has amassed over $500 million in debt to UNESCO and lost their voting privileges on the UNESCO General Council. The past due amount will stop climbing once the U.S. exits, but will need to be addressed, as the U.S. has requested to remain a non-member observer in order to continue bringing U.S. perspectives and goals to the table.

What do you think?

Do you support the U.S. leaving UNESCO or not? Should the U.S. be allowed to be a non-member observer, inserting U.S. priorities into initiatives, if it has such serious concerns about the organization and before it resolves its debt? Does the administration’s moves to exit multilateral agreements like the Paris Agreement and organizations like UNESCO signal a constructive prioritization of U.S. concerns or an isolationist perspective that harms U.S. and global interests?

Tell us in the comments what you think, then use the Take Action button to tell your reps!

— Asha Sanaker

(Photo Credit: National Park Service / Creative Commons)

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(85)
  • James
    10/12/2017
    ···

    President Reagan pulled us out of UNESCO and that was a good decision too! We do not need to be a member of any ungodly dictatorial entity that calls for Globalism and a One World Government! We are Americans! The United States to us is above any other organization to include the U.N.! We do not take orders from them especially if our tax dollars fund one quarter of their total budget! To be Anti Israel is to be a bigoted hateful facist! Especially if one claims to be a Christian! Bush II put us back into that horrible organization as I was surprised he did! We should have never went back as this organization is against religion and nation sovereignty. I would pull out of most U.N. activities accept the Security council and UNICEF.

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  • Kodiwodi
    10/12/2017
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    Don't say the US is leaving UNESCO. We aren't. Donald Trump all by his itty bitty is leaving UNESCO. I'm not pro or anti Israel but I believe in UNESCO's goals and achievements. trump just has problems paying dues owed and going against anything Netanyahu says. Apparently we forgot how to think for ourselves beginning November 2016.

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  • John
    10/12/2017
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    This action is just more of 45’s attempt to pull everyone down into the cesspool he wallows in. Enough is enough. Impeach the FUCKING MORON!

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  • Helen
    10/12/2017
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    I'm sure the impulse to leave UNESCO is mainly another toss of red meat to Trump's base. When pleasing the base with sweeping gestures becomes the most important thing, and the only way to demonstrate "achievement", then we get this sort of political theater. I long for a real President.

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  • Jill
    10/12/2017
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    I think the back dues and the World Heritage Sites might be playing a bigger role in this decision. Many of the World Heritage sites in the US are places the are prime real estate for his oil drilling buddies, National Parks! He wants to open them up so his buddies can rape and plunder those sites without the UNESCO breathing down his neck. I don’t trust that he has an altruistic bone in his body even though he says he is doing this because of anti- Israel bias.

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  • David
    10/12/2017
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    Yes I support leaving. The UN has a troubling history and a bias toward dictatorships. It would be better for the US financially if they moved to another country.

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  • Dawn
    10/12/2017
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    Leaving UNESCO holding the bag on $500 million fits in with Trump’s current agenda and reflects his past as a businessman perfectly! I guess advancing human goals and tolerance are no longer priorities! THIS IS MORALLY WRONG!

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  • Poli.Sci
    10/12/2017
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    UNESCO and all other UN organizations are a farce, that take away the sovereignty of States and gives other States a utopian dreamworld. The US has every right to make this action, especially after our 2011 budget cut of 22% to UNESCO. The UN was originally conceived by one socialist government (the US under FDR and Truman) to block a Communist government ( the USSR) from its aggressive approach to those it governed. It is not a realist approach to politics and virtually has zero power over world affairs (such as the North Korean crisis, its approach to Syria and how not one party listens to its directives, etc.). The only thing the UN, its agencies, NGOs, and UNESCO have in common are their humanitarian work that is biased from one culture or nationality to another. It offers relief to Yazidi families but offers no support and stays idle to the Kurdish peoples who are treated terribly by Turkish and Iraqi governments. Abolish the UN before it falls apart like the League of Nations and creates the Third World War.

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  • Walter
    10/12/2017
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    The anti-Israel contingent can do without my support.

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  • Jeff
    10/12/2017
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    Thank God! Finally! Being part of any group that vilifies the only nation in that cultural cesspool of a region (that doesn’t execute gays, actually allows women’s rights, religious freedom, and multicultural population) has long been a reprehensible complicity we’ve allowed now for far too long. Trump is doing precisely what we sent him to do by way of repairing our good relations with the only genuinely free modern nation in that whole backwards and Medieval part of the world. At least America is acting great again LOL!

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  • Cade
    10/12/2017
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    Why would we stay in it? If you cared to read the article we don't have any privileges in it because we are insanely in debt to them. Israel and all morals aside our three options are 1. pay off the debt with money we don't have when the money should be going to other things. 2. Remain in it and continue amassing debt and have no voting rights. 3. Leave it on a semi-valid reason.

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  • KansasTamale
    10/12/2017
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    What part of this statement of its mission does not make sense toward creating s better planet?? "UNESCO works to create the conditions for dialogue among civilizations, cultures and peoples, based upon respect for commonly shared values. It is through this dialogue that the world can achieve global visions of sustainable development encompassing observance of human rights, mutual respect and the alleviation of poverty, all of which are at the heart of UNESCO’S mission and activities." Not belonging is just another step toward Dictatorship.

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  • Robert
    10/12/2017
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    Based on the presentation above, the relationship between the U.S. and UNESCO is as follows: 1) We stopped paying dues in 2011 and now owe over $500 million; 2) The U.S. lost its voting rights due to its failure to pay its dues; 3) In its decision to leave the organization, the U.S. wants to have observer status on the council to bring “U.S. perspectives and goals to the table”; 4) Therefore, what the U.S. gets by leaving the organization is maintaining the status quo without increasing the amount it owes to the organization. This has nothing to do with Israel!

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  • Leslie
    10/12/2017
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    This was a bad decision

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  • Dave
    10/13/2017
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    There really is no reason for the US to stay. All we are doing is amassing debt and we don’t have a vote at the table anyway. You’re either in or out. We don’t need to half ass it. Get out and stay out.

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  • Kim
    10/13/2017
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    Excuse me, but the USA did not get 500 million in arrears at 80 million a year with only Trump with holding the dues. You can blame Trumpy all you want but you’d better do the math first. Obama obviously had an issue as well, because he didn’t pay either. Why didn’t you say something then? Oh wait, it didn’t fit in with your complaining and bashing Trump.

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  • Barbara
    10/12/2017
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    I totally agree with the decision.

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  • Rodney
    10/12/2017
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    If the Jews feel the UNESCO is anti Semitic that is unfortunate. Obviously, it does not bow down to their desires to allow them to control. They are a minority and do not have any more of a right to control the world order than anyone else. Like Trump there is a little bit of a narcissistic condition in the race. I am sure Trumps plan, to leave UNESCO like his other stupid acts, is to disrupt the world order as much as possible and claim as the greatest negotiator ever will put Humpty Dumpty back together claiming how he fix something that was not broken as bad he claimed it was until after he broke it. I am ashamed and embarrassed by Trump.

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  • Grant
    10/12/2017
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    This is even more of the disaster that is Trump. Congress needs to fight him tooth and nail with his idiotic policies before they drag us into WW3.

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  • Ilona
    10/12/2017
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    Well what else would you expect from Trump and his cabinet? Most all of them have already shown they don't believe in science, education and culture!

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