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Op-Ed: UNICEF Responds to Giulio Meotti's Article

UNICEF's Executive Director in Israel asked to respond to a strongly critical article about the UN's children's organization. Arutz Sheva brings his response below.
Published: Wednesday, July 23, 2014 11:09 PM


Wednesday morning's leading op-ed on Arutz Sheva, written by Giulio Meotti, might have contained some historical facts, but, especially in light of the diplomatic successes of the State of Israel less than 12 hours earlier when Ban Ki Moon and the EU condemned the rockets launched at Israel and defended its right to self-defense, it serves merely as a prime example of pseudo-ideological dogma that is undermining our efforts to change the way Israel is accepted and supported on the international scene.

Firstly I would like to express my disdain for the artistic liberty taken to create a headline such as that. The content of the article does talk about UNICEF, it mentions that “Western and Arab newspapers and televisions are all dribbling for UNICEF’s numbers”, but to claim that a third-party independent source reporting statistics from the field serves as “a blood libel …[that]… gives the impression that Jews target Arab children” is a ridiculous stretch of the imagination.

That the author seems confused when referring to Jewish children rather than Israeli children – Jew and non-Jew alike – does not add legitimacy to the dogma.

As the Executive Director of UNICEF Israel I admit to taking quite personally the slanderous comment that “nobody at UNICEF is touched by the Israeli children”. Were he to have looked at the webpage of UNICEF Israel, UNICEF Middle East and North Africa, and indeed that of UNICEF, he would see posts about the trauma that Israeli children are suffering, calls since the kidnapping of our 3 boys for all children to be protected from violence and conflict, and reports of the work done in both Israel and Gaza to relieve the suffering of children.

In 2006 the US Fund for UNICEF made an investment in a center for psychosocial care for the children of Sderot. In 2009 the Israeli Fund for UNICEF, better known locally as UNICEF Israel, was founded.

It is true, before 2009, UNICEF had not yet set up its presence in Israel in its current form. Today UNICEF Israel is here, working, exposing Israel to the great promise that children hold when their rights are protected, and exposing UNICEF and the world to the Israeli child, our children’s suffering, and the great work done by Israel internationally for the world’s children.

Whereas we do work together with the ministries of education, health, welfare and others within Israel, we do not run activities in the field. As an Israeli I am proud of the fact that my own government is strong enough and responsible enough to take care of me and my family – not all children of the world are this fortunate.

The State of Israel, having been one of the major recipients of international aid through UNICEF from 1948-66, decided in 1966 to declare itself a developed country able to take care of our own humanitarian needs – I do not believe that any one of us would like to compare our situation to that of the children of what used to be called “3rd world” countries.

Returning to the issue at hand, I would ask that the author, together with all of those who have a love of Israel, a love of our own children, and empathy for children as a whole, concentrate the immense amount of effort invested in highlighting criticism of Israel where it does appear- in sharing the incredible investment made by the State of Israel in the advancement of children, the future we are safekeeping for them, and the light unto the nations we wish to be in this field as in others.

Jonny Cline

Executive Director

Ed. Note: This article was received before the UNHRC voted to investigate only Israel for war crimes, so that the reference to Ban Ki-Moon was not intended to mislead As for the complicity of UNWRA in Gaza with Hamas, which David Bedein exposed at Arutz Sheva over a year ago and which UNWRA denied at the time, Ban Ki-Moon has condemned the storage of rockets at a UNWRA school..