"What is the relationship of 'the pursuit of Judaism' to Food and Agriculture?'"

1st March 2013

In a letter to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Director-General, Jose Graziano da Silva, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre's Director for  International Relations, Dr. Shimon Samuels, bluntly asked "the relationship of 'the pursuit of Judaism' to food and agriculture?"

Samuels explained that he had "just sat through the United Nation’s Seminar on 'Assistance to the Palestinian People', which will be
indelibly marked by the comment of the Ambassador of Morocco - speaking for the Arab representatives on the UN Security Council - 'we are here
to stop the pursuit of Judaism in Palestine.'”

The letter noted that "this three-day hatefest was hosted by the U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) in Rome - hardly consonant with
its published mandate “to raise levels of nutrition, improve agricultural productivity, better the lives of rural populations and contribute to the growth of the world economy.”

Samuels pointed out that "most of the democracies: Australia, Canada, United Kingdom, United States etc., declined to attend this one-sided
delegitimizing propaganda assault on Israel - a sovereign U.N. member-State.

The letter stressed that "this litany of offence came from such questionable human rights champions as: Algeria, Afghanistan, Cuba, Namibia, Venezuela etc. Algeria, at one point, baldly endorsed “the disestablishment of Israel as a State”.

Samuels cited "invited 'expert' discussants and pet NGOs which called for:
- boycotts, expulsion of Israel from the OECD and suspension of the European trade agreement with Israel."
- one agricultural connection was drawn with a campaign call against tax 
- the representative of an NGO federation openly claimed that their role included "the targeting of governments, parliamentarians, UN and treaty 
bodies, the EU [and] media to impact public opinion." 
- an Italian History Professor refreshingly explained that, as a  teacher, her older students carried guilt in attitudes to Israel (hinting at the Holocaust), but 'young people are wonderfully ignorant, watch TV and ask why are the Zionists so bad?  My job is to explain why that is so and shift their views.'"

Samuels emphasised to FAO that "there is a direct repercussion of such language on the intensity of antisemitism, particularly in Europe." 

He argued, however, that "the incongruousness of such a meeting at your headquarters was perhaps addressed by 
- the Russian representative, who noted the 'symbolism of the meeting, here, where FAO works hard for the State of Palestine,' 
- a Law professor who claimed, 'the real issue is membership of other UN agencies as a full State.' 
- an Arab delegate confided that 'the implicit intent of this conference is to follow the UNESCO manoeuvre by admission into FAO at this April’s Council meeting, to be confirmed at the General Conference in June.'" 

Samuels suggested that the question relating to "'the pursuit of Judaism' to food and agriculture may no longer be germane," continuing, "the question is now very different: is FAO prepared for the cost of Palestinian admission, following the UNESCO precedent? The Congressional legislation requiring the United States to defund FAO of over 20% of its annual budget?" 

"Mr. Director-General, we urge you to defend FAO’s vital mandate from the politicization and agitation propaganda we witnessed this week on your premises." concluded the Centre.