UNESCO offices in Paris
UNESCO offices in Paris REUTERS

A book fair sponsored by the United Nations has come under fire for offering a number of blatantly anti-Semitic texts at an event which was intended to ‘open minds’ and ‘celebrate the power and influence of books in united peoples.’

The book fair, called the Sharjah World Book Capital 2019, took place in the United Arab Emirates, under the auspices of The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

The event was touted by UNESCO as an opportunity to ‘open minds’ of readers in the UAE, and ‘unite peoples’ through the influence of books.

“Open a book that opens minds: to celebrate the power and influence of books in uniting peoples... The initiative aims to promote peace, cultural enrichment, and intercultural dialogue through education.”

But as the Simon Wiesenthal Center revealed, the book fair featured large numbers of explicitly anti-Semitic books, including “stand after stand” of copies of Adolf Hitler’s racist, German ultranationalist manifesto Mein Kampf, the notorious anti-Semitic forgery The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, They Dare to Speak Out-People and Institutions Confront Israel's Lobby by Paul Findley, Jewish History, Jewish Religion: The Weight of Three Thousand Years, by Israel Shahak; alongside Arab books promoting anti-Jewish conspiracy theories including Pharaoh the Man of Stakes, Judaizing History, Land, Heritage and the Lie of the Promised Land, by Ahmed Saad El Deen, The Jews Through History, by Sulieman Nagy, Dark Beliefs - The Talmud, by Ayoub El Hajele, and other titles.

The Wiesenthal Center blasted UNESCO for backing the book fair, and called on UNESCO’s director-general to publicly condemn the event.

“Sadly, the name of UNESCO is abused as appearing to be complicit in validating for young Arab readers, the bigoted stereotypes of Jews - as expounded by Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran. This is particularly damning at a time of reconciliation between Gulf States and Israel, now facing common enemies.”

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