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News Releases 2017

"Springtime for France and Liberty, Winter for Qatar and Iran."

"Now is not a time for democracies to abandon UNESCO.  Their departure will leave a vacuum rapidly filled by the enemies of freedom."

Paris, 13 October 2017

In his congratulations to UNESCO Director-General elect, Audrey Azoulay, the Centre's Director for International Relations, Dr. Shimon Samuels, viewed "the thirty votes for her as a hopeful turning point from UNESCO appeasement..."

"Nevertheless", he continued, "twenty-eight states were still ready to cover-up a candidate personally indifferent and even endorsing antisemitism."

The Centre argued that "a vote for Qatar was, in reality, an acceptance of its ally Iran - the greatest public executioner, officially stoning woman, financier of proxy terrorism, declaring its genocidal intent."

"We wish farewell and future success to departing Director-General Irina Bokova and look forward to working with her successor, Audrey Azoulay.  Her mandate will, we hope, be suffused with the pristine values of UNESCO and, above all, the World Heritage Committee."

"Now is not a time for democracies to abandon UNESCO.  Their departure will leave a vacuum rapidly filled by the enemies of freedom." "For the moment, UNESCO is saved from a Qatarstrophe that success must now be defended," argued Samuels.

"You apparently signed a Preface to the Cultural Ministry's book on Jerusalem which claims,among other canards, that 'the Jews control the media, newspapers and publishing houses in the United States and the West'. This is outrageous and behooves an apology." 

"Your silence at our calls to you to condemn the hatemongers and remove your patronage from the display stands at the Doha Book Fair and the Qatar stand at the Frankfurt Fair which won you our 2014 and 2015 "Worst Offender Award"... seems to imply indifference and endorsement and surely violate the principles of UNESCO, the institution whose leadership you covet." 

Paris, 6 October 2017 

In a letter to Qatari former Culture Minister, Hamad Bin Abdulaziz Al-Kawari - a candidate for imminent election as Director-General of UNESCO - the Simon Wiesenthal Centre Director for International Relations, Dr. Shimon Samuels, recalled his several protests to the Minister, "regarding the hate literature on display at the annual Doha Book Fair and our 2014 and 2015 award for 'Worst Offender' conferred for the antisemitic texts on Qatar's stand at the Frankfurt Book Fair. This breached contractual obligations to the Fair which prohibit incitement to hate and violence". 

Doha bookfair 2016j

“If insufficient evidence, Supreme Leader Khamenei lambasts UNESCO 2030 Education Agenda, blasting gender equality and sustainable development goals.”

“Arrests of teachers on UNESCO International Mother Language Day and journalists on UNESCO Press Freedom Day should suspend Iran from UNESCO, without need to mention its terrorism sponsorship and its missile/potential nuclear threats to the Middle East.”

Paris, 3 October 2017

In a letter to outgoing UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre’s Director for International Relations, Dr. Shimon Samuels, expressed indignation at Iran’s candidacy for Chair of the 58 member-state Executive Board, to be voted at its 202nd meeting in Paris.

Samuels exposed:

1) Information apparently leaked during the confirmation hearing for Mahmoud Alavi as Intelligence Minister in Presidenr Rouhani’s cabinet. Alavi was,reportedly, a member of Ayatollah Khomeini’s so called “Death Committee” that massacred over 30,000 political prisoners across the country, including pregnant women and teenage girls in 1988. Alavi was responsible for these atrocities in “the UNESCO prison" in Dezful, a site listed by Iran's Mehr News agency as a candidate for World Heritage status... "Eye-witnesses claim that, on the order of Alavi, under 18-year-olds were executed in groups of two or three in the barren backyard section of UNESCO Dezful prison.”

Paris, 18 September 2017

The third annual Copernic Synagogue Prize for Dialogue, Peace and Fraternity was awarded to the Centre Simon Wiesenthal (CSW), the Memorial to the Shoah and the Festival Al-Andalus.

The Synagogue, in partnership with the Institut de L'Engagement (Institute for Commitment) annually recognizes personalities or associations that are outstanding in their reconciliation, rejection of hate and of prejudice.

Receiving the award, CSW-France President, Richard Odier spoke of the activist role of the Centre in the spirit of the late Simon Wiesenthal, as in his work on behalf of the Centre in Rwanda and on Darfur.

Director for International Relations, Dr. Shimon Samuels, speaking of the October attack on the Synagogue, recalled his presence on the corner of rue Lauriston, 150 meters away from the explosion.   He had just wished a Happy Succoth (Tabernacles) to Aliza Shagrir - wife of the Israeli film-maker, Midna Shagrir - as she turned into rue Copernic, where she met her death as one of the four street victims of the bombing that also wounded 41 inside the destroyed building. 

18 Sept. 2017 1
Lt-Rt: Copernic Synagogue President Francois Bensahel,
Wiesenthal Centre-France President Richard Odier
and Director for International Relations Shimon Samuels,
Copernic Rabbi Jonas Jacquelin

"The investigating magistrates handed their final report on 28 July setting the formal decision for trial within 40 working days - Deadline for 23 September".

"We urge French Justice Minister to ensure that 2018 brings final closure to families of the victims and survivors.  After 37 years, justice further delayed is justice denied"

Paris, 13 September 2017

In a letter to the French Justice Minister, Nicole Belloubet, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre Director for International Relations, Dr. Shimon Samuels noted that "on 28 July  2017, one of the longest judicial inquiries in the history of a French tribunal moved forward.  Thirty-seven years after the crime, the investigating magistrates completed their inquiry into the 1980 bombing of the rue Copernic Synagogue in Paris.  The magistrates closure sets a calendar for a formal decision within 40 days on proceeding to trial.  A period of 40 working days places the deadline for 23 September - one week from now."