Why the U.S. UNESCO Exit is More Israel First Than America First


When I first heard about this, I have to admit I was rather pleased. The U.N. is a corrupt organisation, and its arms such as UNESCO are corrupt as well. The Trump Administration I thought, had left purely for American interests. But that wasn’t the case. Soon after the story broke, it was also reported that the U.S. left UNESCO because of its “anti-Israeli” agenda. What? But it was true and it shouldn’t come as any surprise to anyone who knows even a little post World War II history. The U.S’ stance is simple. Protect Israel at any cost.

This pair of interviews on RT, outline some reasons as to why the Trump administration has decided to take this course of action.

RT: Is there anything to the timing of this latest announcement? Why leave UNESCO now?

Max Blumenthal: I think one reason is simply the Trump administration and its UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, who has kind of rented space in her mind to neoconservative and pro-Israel elements in Washington. This is someone who has the foreign policy experience of having gone to the International House of Pancakes several times as governor of South Carolina.

Essentially the neoconservatives are running the show at the UN for the US. This goes back all the way to 2011. Congress withheld funding for UNESCO because UNESCO allowed the Palestinian Authority membership. And Congress is very, very easily influenced by the pro-Israeli lobby, whereas traditionally the State Department and the US mission at the UN have not been. So this is the first time we’ve really seen the State Department get in line with the Congressional elements that are funded by the pro-Israel lobby, and easily influenced by them. I think this really reflects the weakness of the Trump administration.

RT:Why is Israel is so important to Washington? How is it that Israel has so much influence on US politics?

MB: It relates to the pro-Israel lobby and not anything Israel brings to the table in terms of advancing American interests in the Middle East. If we listen to former Secretary of State [James] Baker, Israel is linked to a massive ongoing process of radicalization across the Middle East that hurts US interests. Even former CENTCOM commander David Petraeus said that.

So in this case with Israel leaving UNESCO, it is the rare instance, where the tail is choreographing its movements with the dog. But the tail has been wagging the dog for decades. As Ali Abunimah put it at The Electronic Intifada, this reflects Trump’s America first agenda exposing itself as an Israel first agenda. Israel is really setting the agenda here for Trump, and Trump is falling into line.

RT:Is there a genuine grievance here? If there is, why is it only the US and Israel who are taking action?

MB:The Israeli grievance is that UNESCO is honoring international law. UNESCO designated East Jerusalem as an occupied area, and that comports completely with international law. Resolution 244 at the UN declared that East Jerusalem is occupied. UNESCO declared Hebron a part of Palestine. Hebron is located deep in the occupied West Bank, which is Palestinian territory. UNESCO also declared the Al-Aqsa Mosque a world heritage site under threat by radical settler elements in Israel, who seek to replace it with a third Jewish temple.

All of these are in line with international law, which Israel seeks to violate. So what we see here with the US grievances is a grievance against international agreements. And the US endorsing it, falling into line with Israel, and just raises an interesting question: “When have we ever seen the US attack the UN for anti-France or anti-British, or anti-German biases?” Only in the case of Israel where the US behaves in this manner.

International affairs commentator Daniel Shaw also says that “the US has always stood with Israel and backed Israel” and the timing of the US decision to leave UNESCO “is just another sign of the pettiness of the ramping anti-Palestinian feelings.”

“We can’t really understand Israel’s place in international affairs without understanding the US’s backing of Israel. They’ve given a $38 billion aid package to Israel – the largest package of its kind in US history,” he told RT.

As to allegations by the US of anti-Israel bias, he said It is an incredible distortion of who the aggressor is, and who the victim is.”

“What we’ve seen in Palestine for the past 100 years: murder, displacement, systematic campaign of ethnic cleansing and genocide, and it is not an exaggeration… It is inexplicable; there is no justification. Palestine like all people deserves its own flag and its own homeland. What there is in Washington and across this country – is an anti-Palestinian bias, not an anti-Israeli bias,” Shaw added.


Irrational as it may seem, this simply continues the way the U.S. has conducted its foreign policy ever since World War II ended. Israel comes first, even at the cost of American lives and at the cost of American economic interests. It clearly demonstrates which group of people really controls that country.


Dean Nestor

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