Director-General meets World Jewish Congress to further strengthen joint cooperation
On 25 January, 2016, the Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova met with Mr. Robert Singer, CEO and Executive Vice President of the World Jewish Congress (WJC) to discuss ongoing cooperation to support UNESCO’s Holocaust Education Programme and to address current global challenges, relating to countering anti-Semitism, youth radicalization and growing religious intolerance. Mr Singer was accompanied by Ms. Sonia Gomes de Mesquita, Chief Program Officer at the WJC, and by Lauren Rose, Representative of the WJC to the UN in Geneva.
Irina Bokova thanked the World Jewish Congress for its support to UNESCO’s Holocaust Remembrance Day and its growing engagement in supporting UNESCO’s work for preventive education across the world. She reiterated that the Organization stands as the sole UN agency with a mandate to promote Holocaust education worldwide for the prevention of genocide promoting respect for human rights, through policies and initiatives at a global level to develop education about the genocide, in order to make young people, whatever their origin and culture, become more aware of the mechanisms that can lead societies to scale up hatred and mass violence, and how to prevent these phenomena.
She highlighted also UNESCO’s role as a platform for institutions, teachers, and students to access resources on Education for Holocaust and to prevent genocides -- in order to develop critical reflection about the roots of genocide and the necessity to nurture peace and human rights to prevent such atrocities in the future.
Underlining the support of the World Jewish Congress to UNESCO in its actions to strengthen awareness about the history of the Holocaust across the world, Robert Singer highlighted the Congress’ activities to support youth engagement beyond religious and cultural divides around joint initiatives, so as to raise awareness about a shared history, to promote human rights and eliminate all forms of discrimination and intolerance.
Robert Singer introduced the Congress’ recent initiative Education Without Borders -- an educational program for the benefit of hospitalized children in Israel, irrespective of their ethnic or religious backgrounds, to ensure that they do not fall behind with their studies while undergoing medical treatment in hospital. The initiative has been providing short, medium and long-term education to Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Druze and Bedouin children in hospitals all over Israel. The initiative will be showcased in an itinerant exhibition soon to be presented at UNESCO Headquarters.
Following the holding at UNESCO of the international symposium regarding the Permanence of the Yiddish language organized by B'nai B'rith International and UNESCO in November 2012, Robert Singer informed the Director-General of the growing development of centers for the teaching of Yiddish language across the world and in particular in Eastern Europe, referring notably to the International Yiddish Center of the World Jewish Congress providing higher education to teachers and students, and fostering literacy about the Yiddish language and traditions among new generations coming from Europe, the United States, Latin America, and beyond.
The Director-General congratulated Mr. Singer on these developments, recalling the importance of culture for identity and to build peaceful and resilient societies.
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