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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

What I like consistently about Bennis —

She is clear, concise, pointedly correct, even courteous, yet she never minces words.
Re-reporting, editing by Carolyn Bennett

Phyllis Bennis specializes in U.S. foreign policy issues, particularly involving the Middle East and United Nations. She worked as a journalist at the UN for ten years and currently serves as a special adviser to several top-level UN officials on Middle East and UN democratization issues. A frequent contributor to U.S. and global media, Phyllis is also the author of numerous articles and books, particularly on Palestine, Iraq, the UN, and U.S. foreign policy.  

Works by Bennis include: Understanding the U.S.-Iran crisis (2008); Ending the Iraq War: A Primer (2008); Understanding the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict: A Primer (2007); Challenging Empire: People, Governments and the UN Defy U.S. Power (2005); Before And After: U.S. Foreign Policy and the September 11th Crisis (2002); Understanding the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict: A Primer (2003); Calling the Shots. How Washington Dominates Today’s UN (2000); Altered States. A Reader in the New World Order (1993); Beyond the Storm; A Gulf Crisis Reader (1991); From Stones to Statehood: The Palestinian Uprising (1990).

She is a fellow at the Transnational Institute (a worldwide fellowship of scholar activists) and at the Institute for Policy Studies (Washington D.C.). At the latter, Bennis is director of the New Internationalism Project.

This is some of what she had to say today about U.S. officials’ ridiculously callous and punitive response to UNESCO’s admitting Palestine as a member state of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. She was speaking with Amy Goodman on the Democracy Now news program.

Katalin Bogyay of Hungary elected 36th President of
UNESCO General Conference
“What we are seeing right now is an extraordinary thing,” Bennis said. “You had 107 countries voting to authorize Palestinian membership as a full member state, as an equal member of UNESCO, and the U.S. immediately says  in response to that, ‘We have longstanding laws that require us to stop paying the required dues for our obligations to UNESCO,’ which is about $70 million a year; about $60 million owed this month.
“What we are seeing is really a classic example of the one percent … controlling the 99 percent — the one percent being Israel and its supporters in the United States saying the United States should take an incredibly drastic position, ending its support of UNESCO, which of course eventually will mean the U.S. will lose its vote in UNESCO, and potentially, similarly, in other U.N. agencies along the way.…

“When there is a Palestinian move, which is broadly supported across the world, including by a wide range of U.S. allies, such as France, you have massive consequences resulting from old laws” (signed by presidents George H. W. Bush and William Jefferson Clinton) — laws requiring “drastic consequences not particularly harming the Palestinians themselves; but that harm the U.S. role in the world and that harm the United Nations.

“This is going to do great harm to UNESCO and its work in protecting the World Heritage sites, its work in distributing information that shares science across the world, its work that protects indigenous languages. Those are the things that we will see being undermined by this U.S. response.

“There is nothing here that undermines the possibility of any sort of legitimate peace process.

“What it undermines is the illusion, the false illusion, that the U.S.-backed so-called peace process of 20 years is somehow moving towards the possibility of a just, lasting and permanent solution to this conflict.”

Sources and notes

Phyllis Bennis’s biographical information at http://www.tni.org/sites/www.tni.org/files/bio_long/Nick%20Buxton/phyllis%20long%20bio_0.pdf

“U.S. Pulls All Funding for UNESCO After Sweeping Vote to Support Palestinian Membership, November 1, 2011, http://www.democracynow.org/2011/11/1/us_pulls_all_funding_for_unesco

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (www.unesco.org/)
encourages international peace and universal respect by promoting collaboration among nations; conducts studies, facilitates knowledge sharing …

Headquartered in Paris, France, UNESCO has 195 Member States and 7 Associate Member States; and is governed by the General Conference and the Executive Board. The Secretariat, headed by the Director-General, implements the decisions of these two bodies.


UNESCO/Michel Ravassard
Outside view of UNESCO's newly-renovated headquarters with flags

© UNESCO/Michel Ravassard
Plenary hall of UNESCO's 34th General Conference with flags

Katalin Bogyay, Hungary, elected 36th President of UNESCO General Conference


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