Address of Gideon Sa'ar, M.K.,
Minister of Education of the State of Israel,
at the UNESCO General Conference, 35th Session
Paris, October 7, 2009
Deputy Director General
Israel expresses its gratitude to Mr. Matsuura, for 10 years of service as director general to UNESCO, and wishes him all the best with his future endeavors.
We also congratulate Irina Bokova, ambassador of the republic of Bulgaria to France, for her election as the candidate to the post of Director-General of UNESCO.
We look forward to continued and enhanced fruitful cooperation.
Ladies and Gentlemen
If we have learned anything from the history of humanity in general, and the Jewish people in particular, we know that when tyrants declare their intentions to decimate other nations – they must be taken at their word! Moreover, they must be prevented from implementing their evil plans.
UNESCO was founded on November 16, 1945 to prevent a recurrence of the horrors of World War II. Those in attendance that day would have been stunned to learn that a Holocaust denial movement would arise less than 20 years later, whose- like the president of Iran who call the Holocaust a "myth" - Endanger the values we all share which are at the basis of UNESCO.
I urge all member states to implement Resolution 61, adopted at the last General Conference, by promoting Holocaust remembrance through education, and by combating all forms of Holocaust denial.
During Israel's 61 years of statehood, millions of immigrants from all over the world have created a social and cultural texture of rich diversity. In last year's United Nations Human Development index, Israel ranked 24th of 179 countries!
Through the bilateral cooperation between UNESCO and Israel, Based on Israel–UNESCO memorandum of understanding, we engage with member states, serving on intergovernmental committees such as Information for All, World Heritage, and specialized committees such as Bioethics.
In the last two years, we have hosted delegations of UNESCO experts; our own experts have participated in UNESCO meetings.
As Minister of Education, I support UNESCO's educational initiatives in Israel. Our ASPnet net activities implement resolutions on sustainable education and co-existence tolerance. In June, ASPnet Europe national coordinators met in Israel to discuss achievements and prepare global policy through 2013.
Last year, at the Kaye Academic College of Education in Beersheba, hundreds of educators attended an international conference on teacher status.
During the World Conference on Higher Education in this house, Israel presented a proposal of our Council for Higher Education, to establish a network of UNESCO Chairs on higher education research. The Council's Planning and Budgeting Committee has awarded 10 post-doctoral scholarships to scientists from countries in transition.
Israel encourages cultural activities in music, dance, theatre and the plastic arts, and has created study tracks in institutes of higher art education.
To preserve mother tongues such as Ladino and Yiddish, we promote International Year of Languages programs. A law enacted by our Knesset established the Academy of the Arabic Language in Israel, the first such academy established outside the Arab world.
We cherish our World Heritage sites, preserving them for future generations.
In Sesame, our main regional cooperation project, we engage in dialogues with regional member states.
Our Information for All focus is to reduce digital gaps in society. Under the World Memory program, Israel promoted digital preservation of architectural archives, films and newspapers dating from the 1920's and on.
Working with Haifa University's UNESCO Chair, Israel has helped develop a teacher training course in bioethics in Kenya, Romania and Slovenia.
Ladies and Gentlemen
UNESCO's constitution states that "it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed". Through UNESCO activities, Israel also seeks to build peace in the hearts of humankind.