US Rejoins UNESCO After Decades-Long Dispute

US Rejoins UNESCO After Decades-Long Dispute
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The Facts

  • UNESCO, the UN agency responsible for culture and science, announced Monday that the US will be rejoining the group and paying more than $600M in back dues. The US stopped funding the organization in 2011 after Palestine was included as a member state, before leaving in 2017.

  • US officials say the move is motivated by a desire to counter China's growing influence in the organization, claiming they're filling the gap left by the US in fields such as artificial intelligence and technological education policy. Before 2011, the US contributed around 22% of UNESCO's total budget.

The Spin

Narrative A

The US has decided to break ranks with Israel and dignify an organization that has demonstrated serious animosity towards it. This corrupt organization is used as a cudgel to denigrate Israel and deny any Jewish connection to the Holy Land through their distortions of history. The US should not support an organization that has a history of delegitimizing Israel. America has left before, and perhaps it's time they stay out for good.

Narrative B

UNESCO has done much to clean up its act under the leadership of Audrey Azoulay, and diplomats are satisfied that the organization has returned to its original goal of preserving the world's cultural heritage. Without the US involved, there would be no counterweight in the organization against Chinese and anti-Israeli influence, and we all should celebrate a new era of UNESCO.

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