Update (September 22, 2009): Farouk Hosni was defeated in his bid to become the Director-General of UNESCO. More
New York, NY, June 1, 2009 …Pointing to his entrenched opposition to cultural exchanges with Israel and his advocacy of book burning, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today called on members of the European Union and other nations to reject the candidacy of Egyptian Culture Minister Farouk Hosni for Director-General of UNESCO.
"Throughout his tenure, Farouk Hosni has consistently promoted policies that contravene the founding principles of UNESCO through his entrenched opposition to cultural exchanges with Israel and his hostility toward Israeli culture," said Glen S. Lewy, ADL National Chair, and Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director.
"While Israel and Egypt have been at peace since 1979, and while the peace agreement specifically calls for fully normalized cultural relations, Mr. Hosni has refused to permit any Israeli participation in Egypt's major cultural events, such as the annual Cairo Book Fair and Film Festival," they added.
In a letter sent to 27 E.U. foreign ministers, ADL detailed Hosni's long history of hostility toward Israeli-Egyptian cultural exchanges, including his declaration last year that, "I'd burn Israeli books myself if I found any in libraries in Egypt" -- a statement he later clarified, saying it was made in anger and wasn't meant literally. More recently, he offered a belated and clearly politically motivated form of apology in an attempt to save his bid for the position.
The League's letter also noted that Mr. Hosni and his wife had invited Roger Garaudy, the notorious French Holocaust denier, to be their guest in Egypt.
"If the nomination goes forward, we call on members states of UNESCO to act to preserve the main purpose for which UNESCO was established ... by choosing another candidate as Director-General," said Messrs. Lewy and Foxman.
UNESCO -- the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization -- promotes collaboration among the nations through education, science and culture. It is based in Paris.
In addition to reaching out to world leaders, ADL has taken out advertisements opposing Mr. Hosni's candidacy for UNESCO director-general in The New York Times, the International Herald Tribune. The ads may also appear in major European daily newspapers.