Netanyahu says declined UNESCO anti-Semitism conference invitation

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he had turned down an invitation on Wednesday to a UNESCO conference on anti-Semitism during a visit to New York, over its “egregious bias” against the Jewish state.

Israel withdrew from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization in 2017, accusing it of adopting anti-Israeli policies, following the lead of the United States.

“While I commend all efforts to combat anti-Semitism, I have decided not to participate in this week’s UNESCO conference on anti-Semitism due to the organization’s persistent and egregious bias against Israel,” Netanyahu said in a statement issued by his office.

The prime minister, who is currently in New York to attend the annual United Nations General Assembly, said that UNESCO “must do more than host a conference on anti-Semitism. It must stop practicing anti-Semitism.”

While not directly addressing Netanyahu’s no-show at the conference, UNESCO’s head said that education was the best way to combat intolerance and discrimination.

“Antisemitism undermines fundamental rights in general,” the organization’s director-general Audrey Azoulay said at the conference.

“To address it is to defend fundamental freedoms. It is to defend the equal dignity of all human beings.”

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