Egyptians ‘Blame the Jews’ for Defeat of Israeli Book Burner
Egyptian Minister of Culture Farouk Hosny has lost his bid to head UNESCO, the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization. Hosny said last year that his country’s famed Alexandria Library should burn Hebrew-language books.
The 58-member body voted 31-27 in favor of former Bulgarian Foreign Minister Irina Bokova after previous votes failed to deliver a majority vote for candidates, all of whom eventually dropped out of the running except for Bokova and Hosny. The Arab bloc and France backed Hosny, while the rest of the Western world voted for Bokova. A former Communist, she is the first woman and the first East European to head UNESCO.
Arab media and Egyptian academics blamed the "Jewish lobby” for engineering the bid of Hosny to become the first Arab director of UNESCO. “For the first time the choice for UNESCO Director-General was political”, Mohamed Salmawy, said President of the Writers’ Union of Egypt. “The Jewish lobby exerted strong pressure, quoting the minister out of context”, referring to his book-burning statement. Hosny later apologized for his remark, but the words left a bad taste in Israel and Western countries.
Hosny was the front-runner in the race, which was hotly contested. A UNESCO spokeswoman denied charges by one delegate that one person was ejected from the security staff for trying to bribe delegates before the voting.
Israel issued a polite announcement congratulating Bokova, without referring to Hosny.