Nikki Haley is leaving the Trump administration imminently, but she had some parting words for her friends at the United Nations. Tweeting the day after the U.S. and Israel officially announced their withdrawal from the UNESCO agency, Haley said that the UN subsidiary suffered from an anti-Israel bias that could not go unchecked.
“UNESCO is among the most corrupt and politically biased UN agencies,” Haley wrote on Wednesday. “Today the U.S. withdrawal from this cesspool became official.”
The Trump administration’s withdrawal from the UN agency was a long time in the works. Officials first filed notice of withdrawal in October 2017. Israel followed the United States’ lead shortly thereafter.
UNESCO – which stands for United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization – has come under harsh criticism from the U.S. and allies of Israel for many of its decisions throughout the years. It has often made public its criticism of Israel’s so-called occupation of East Jerusalem, it has made it a point to antagonize Israel by recognizing ancient Jewish sites as Palestinian heritage areas, and it even made Palestine a full member of the organization in 2011. This last decision caused the U.S. and Israel to cease paying dues to the organization.
“We will not be a member of an organization whose goal is to deliberately act against us, and that has become a tool manipulated by Israel’s enemies,” said Israeli UN envoy Danny Danon. “UNESCO is a body that continually rewrites history, including by erasing the Jewish connection to Jerusalem.”
According to Fox News, some saw the withdrawal as unnecessary, given the changes new UNESCO Director Audrey Azoulay has made:
Azoulay, who has Jewish and Moroccan heritage, spent the last year lobbying for the two countries to remain members, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported.
She presided over the launch of a Holocaust education website and the U.N.’s first educational guidelines on fighting anti-Semitism — initiatives that might be seen as responding to U.S. and Israeli concerns.
But Washington ignored Azoulay’s efforts to get the two countries to reconsider, which included brokering compromises that saw anti-Israel resolutions delayed or softened, according to the Times of Israel.
The United States was a founding force behind UNESCO in the 1940s, but this isn’t the first time that we have pulled out of the group. Ronald Reagan made the decision to withdraw from the organization in 1984 over what was then perceived as a pro-Soviet bias. We re-entered the group during the Bush years, but since then, the organization’s anti-Israel bias has been too much to bear.