Monday, October 16, 2017

Little Public Support for Renewed MOU with Cambodia

There was a poor public response to the call for comments to CPAC for the renewal of the MOU with corrupt Cambodia. This suggests low public support for this idea. As Peter Tompa points out:
Indeed, though most of the twenty-one (21) comments were supportive of the renewed MOU, virtually all these came from archaeologists who depend on Cambodian excavation permits or their associated archaeological advocacy groups. Meanwhile, it is finally dawning on some in Congress that MOUs have devolved into special interest programs for archaeologists. Significantly, Congressional appropriators have required CPAC to report on the expenditures of MOU partner countries make in securing their own cultural patrimony. Hopefully, this will help change a culture that has vilified collectors to help divert attention away from poor stewardship of archaeological resources by source countries.

Friday, October 13, 2017

United States will withdraw from the Absurd UNESCO

President Donald Trump and UN Ambassador Nikki Haley

The United States will withdraw from the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization, (UNESCO), effective December 31, 2018. This was the response to the agency's decision "to designate the Old City of Hebron and the Tomb of the Patriarchs as part of Palestinian territory and a World Heritage site despite protests by the United States, Israel, and other countries," according to the US Mission. The US had stopped providing funding to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, or UNESCO, when members voted in 2011 to recognize Palestine as a member. 

US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said that,
“The purpose of UNESCO is a good one. Unfortunately, its extreme politicization has become a chronic embarrassment. The Tomb of the Patriarchs decision was just the latest in a long line of foolish actions, which includes keeping Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad on a UNESCO human rights committee even after his murderous crackdown on peaceful protestors. Just as we said in 1984 when President Reagan withdrew from UNESCO, US taxpayers should no longer be on the hook to pay for policies that are hostile to our values and make a mockery of justice and common sense.” 

As soon as the Trump Administration announced its intention of leaving UNESCO, Israel promptly followed suit, announcing its own plans to withdraw:
Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu said he had instructed his foreign ministry to prepare Israel's withdrawal from UNESCO in parallel with the US. "I welcome President Trump's decision to withdraw from UNESCO," he said in a statement posted to Facebook. "This is a courageous and ethical decision because UNESCO has become a theater of the absurd and instead of preserving history, distorts it."
In the UNESCO response to our leaving, much was made of the work of the organization "to protect humanity’s shared cultural heritage in the face of terrorist attacks and to prevent violent extremism through education and media literacy". The idea you can stop ISIS with books is laughable. 

UNESCO is yet another organisation ruined by Muslims. The US and Israel have won a huge victory against Islam. A year from now and UNESCO wont exist and Palestine will find itself short of hundreds of millions of dollars it was receiving.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Too little cash, too much politics, leaves UNESCO fighting for life

Reuters: 'Too little cash, too much politics, leaves UNESCO fighting for life'
In the modernist but faded headquarters of UNESCO, the U.N.’s cultural agency on Paris’s elegant Left Bank, more than a few diplomats wandered the corridors on Friday wondering if the organisation has a future. The agency, founded in the ashes of World War Two to protect the common cultural inheritance of humanity, was due to elect a new head later in the day. But a sudden announcement that the United States was quitting over anti-Israel bias meant that whoever wins the top job would inherit a body in turmoil, with huge questions over its future funding and mission.[...] For some of its diplomats, Washington’s decision to quit represented a corner being turned, and puts even more pressure on whoever is elected to lead it. “This is the most critical election. There can’t be four more years like this,” said a Western diplomat, bemoaning the leadership of outgoing director Irina Bokova of Bulgaria, whose critics say she failed to persuade member states to pay their dues and stop politicizing UNESCO’s work.[...]
Without U.S. money, UNESCO, which employs around 2,000 people worldwide, has been forced to cut programmes, freeze hiring and fill gaps with voluntary contributions. Its 2017 budget was about $326 million, almost half its 2012 budget.  Including the United States, which has some $542 million in arrears, the organisation is owed almost $650 million, according to figures on its website. At this stage, UNESCO officials still don’t know if the United States will make up its arrears before it officially exits on Dec. 31, 2018.
Other major contributors such as Japan, Britain, and Brazil have also yet to pay their dues for 2017, sometimes citing objections to the body’s policies. “The fact is that UNESCO was all about solidarity and creating a climate for peace between countries, but nations now use their dues to influence programmes,” said a UNESCO-based diplomat. “That needs to change.” Japan, for example, has threatened to withhold dues over the inclusion of the 1937 Nanjing Massacre in the body’s “Memory of the World” programme. Russia and Ukraine have been at odds over Crimea, with Kiev accusing Moscow of trying to legitimise its annexation of the territory through UNESCO. “Whoever takes over at the helm has to tackle this head on. They need to find ways of getting nations to talk these issues through, but if they can‘t, then the director-general needs to be able to say ‘no’ and kill these texts,” said a second UNESCO-based diplomat. Unlike at the U.N. Security Council, where five powers wield a veto, UNESCO takes decisions based on majority votes, either of its General Secretariat that includes all 195 nations, or of the 58-member Executive Board. Israel says this creates a built-in majority for states that are hostile to it. Big countries like the United States that provide most of the funding say their single votes give them little input into how their money is spent.

Cambodia MOU Extension Due

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Archaeologists for Assad?

Assad crony Abdukarim

UNESCO's Bulgarian Ex-Communist Director-General has praised Syria's Director-General for Antiquities and Museums in glowing terms. “'When history books teach children about those who contributed to conserving Syrian heritage during the devastating conflict in Syria, Dr Maamoun Abdulkarim will be at the top of the list, along with all others who have been so dedicated and deserving of the world’s respect for their relentless, humanist commitment', said UNESCO Director General, Irina Bokova."

 What appears lost on UNESCO and members of the archaeological lobby who have also sung Abdukarim's praises is the fact that the Assad regime, which Abdulkarim serves, itself has been responsible not only for mass murder, but for the looting and the intentional destruction of Syrian cultural patrimony. "Indeed, Assad, like other Arab Strongmen, appears all too willing to use and abuse archaeology for his regime's own political purposes. So, why should Abdulkarim be praised at all?" asks Peter Tompa.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Troubled UNESCO begins picking new leader

Troubled UNESCO begins picking new leader. A key task for new head of UN cultural body is to regain US funding, suspended over perceived anti-Israel bias (AFP and Times of Israel staff). The current director-general, Irina Bokova, has come across as wanting a good relationship with Israel. We'll see what happens when she steps down and a new leader is elected.

Friday, October 6, 2017

"In Gaza, Hamas levels an ancient Canaanite archaeological treasure/

Much of the 4,500-year-old Bronze Age city known as Tel Es-Sakan is being bulldozed to make way for construction projects and military bases (Fares Akram, "In Gaza, Hamas levels an ancient Canaanite archaeological treasure/" Times of Israel  October 6, 2017),
Palestinian and French archaeologists began excavating Gaza’s earliest archaeological site nearly 20 years ago, unearthing what they believe is a rare 4,500-year-old Bronze Age settlement. But over protests that grew recently, Gaza’s Hamas rulers have systematically destroyed the work since seizing power a decade ago, allowing the flattening of this hill on the southern tip of Gaza City to make way for construction projects, and later military bases. There is a clear destruction of a very important archaeological site,” said Palestinian archaeology and history professor Mouin Sadeq, who led three excavations at the site along with French archaeologist Pierre de Miroschedji after its accidental discovery in 1998. “I don’t know why the destruction of the site was approved.”
It is among the earliest sites indicating the emergence of the “urban society” concept in the Near East, when communities were transforming from farming villages around 4,000 BC, and it was on trade routes between Egypt and the Levant, The area “was the first city of Palestine to have a city wall,”