Jewish group may oppose Qatar’s UNESCO bid over anti-Semitic books

Cnaan Liphshiz

(JTA) — Citing an abundance of anti-Semitic literature at the Doha International Book Fair, the Simon Wiesenthal Center said it would resist the candidacy of Qatar’s education minister to head UNESCO.

In a March 6 letter to the minister, Hamad bin Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari, Shimon Samuels, the center’s director for international relations, said that the material on display at the event organized every January under the auspices of the Qatari education ministry called into question the minister’s commitment to the values promoted by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

Al-Kuwari was nominated by the Gulf state earlier this month as its candidate for director general of the Paris-based organization.

In his letter, Samuels asked Al-Kuwari “to condemn the Doha Book Fair, remove [his] patronage and investigate and prosecute those responsible for sowing these seeds of xenophobia, violence and conflict in a world of growing antisemitic terrorism.”

At the fare, which this year drew 700,000 visitors, Samuels documented 35 anti-Semitic titles, including nine editions of the anti-Semitic hoax titled “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion;” four editions of Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf and four edition of Henry Ford’s “The International Jew.”

“From this perspective, Mr. Minister, Doha is a very long way from Paris,” Samuels said, referring to UNESCO’s headquarters.

In 2008, Farouk Hosni, an Egyptian culture minister considered to be a leading candidate for the post, was ultimately rejected amid strong-worded objections by Jewish groups that cited his statement in parliament that he would burn any Hebrew-language book he found on Egyptian soil.