Wednesday, September 23, 2009

And Clearly, This Was an Error on Our Part

I blogged twice on the prospective selection of Farouk Hosni to lead UNESCO. I think I was more than generous towards him -- despite his troublesome comments about burning Israeli books (exactly what one wants to hear from a Culture Minister), I stated that he sounded more like a spineless flip-flopper to me than a particularly virulent anti-Israel zealot. And though his apology for those comments when they appeared to threaten his professional ascent certainly fit that hypothesis, I still said I would welcome an exhibition of him backing words with action -- perhaps by supporting the establishment of Jewish cultural museum in Cairo; something he had been implacably opposed to even though (as folks so frequently remind me) Jews and Israelis are not the same thing. Alas, I don't believe he took me up on the offer.

In any event, the election occurred and, in somewhat of an upset, Mr. Hosni lost to Bulgarian diplomat Irina Bokova. And Mr. Hosni's reaction seemed to verify that it was the right choice:
Egypt's culture minister says a Western conspiracy "cooked up in New York" prevented him from becoming the next head of the UN's agency for culture and education.

Farouk Hosny says "European countries and the world's Jews" wanted him to lose.

I have to say that, as a Jew in the world (albeit not a spokesperson for "the world's Jews" in all its discrete, monolithic splendor), I did want Hosni to lose. But that's because Hosni's record as Culture Minister was one in favor of censorship, demagoguery, and prejudicial incitement, and that's not the sort of record we should reward with a promotion. By lashing out and blaming the Jews for his loss, he merely verifies that our instincts were correct on the matter.

I should, incidentally, also applaud the UN for bucking its recent trends and rejecting Mr. Hosni's candidacy. So often these elections seem to be very pro forma -- it was good to see the global community step up to the plate in favor of the open exchange of ideas and egalitarian ethos that is essential to a free culture.

1 comment:

Rebecca said...

Yes, and I suspect that if Mr. Hosny had in fact been elected, he would have used his position in an anti-semitic and anti-Israel way. Clearly his anti-semitism was not particularly below the surface.