Failed Farouk Hosni put vindictiveness above vision

Farouk Hosni, whose bid for the leadership of UNESCO has failed, will now blame the Jooz. And with good reason: Jews worldwide ran a vigorous campaign to frustrate his ambitions. Ultimately, though, the veteran Egyptian Minister of culture did not have the vision required for the job. (It remains to be seen whether he will keep his promise, made in the last stages of his election campaign, to open up Jewish community registers.) Here are extracts of a 23 September piece by Maariv’s Jacky Hougy and Maya Bengal, UN said no to Egyptian minister who called for Israeli books to be burnt (With thanks for her translation to Levana) :

“So comes to an end a two-year Egyptian campaign recruiting dozens of diplomats around the world, along with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. This campaign convinced the leaders of Oman, Morocco and Algeria, not to put forward their representatives, to avoid hurting Hosni ‘s chances as Arab candidate.

“Towards the end, Mubarak also asked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to stop the international Israeli Foreign Ministry campaign against Hosni. During their meeting in May, Netanyahu responded positively to the request. Since Mubarak’s request to Netanyahu, Israel avoided attacking Hosni, and the guidelines were not to react strongly to Hosni’s defeat but with restraint. Indeed, Jerusalem expressed satisfaction yesterday, and chose to congratulate Bukova on her victory and not to defame the Egyptian. “Israel is convinced that cooperation with UNESCO will continue,”‬ said Yossi Levy, director of communication at the Foreign Ministry, “and will be enlarged and extended.”

“Furthermore, Levana Zamir, Chair of the International Organization of Jews from Egypt in Israel, expressed regrets. “Too bad Farouk Hosni dit not obtain this position,” she‬ said, “he expressed repentance for his statements against Jews, and even in court they accept repentance.”

Farouk Hosni will surely claim during the next days, that the Jews spoiled his victory. He is not wrong. Until the last moment yesterday when the board members of UNESCO dropped their card votes, Jewish organizations and non-official Israelis acted behind the scenes to steal the Egyptian candidate’s dream.

This had to be done, they said, to the man who promised to burn Hebrew books, and as a badge of pride, said he would be the last Egyptian to visit Israel. But if Hosni looks around, he will realize that he should complain only to himself. After 22 years as Minister of Culture, he did not achieve the kind of accomplishments which could make of him a natural candidate to the UNESCO Secretary-General’s position. The Pyramids remain the same as when the pharaohs disappeared. The International Films Festival of Cairo, which the Ministry of Culture is proud of, failed to break through the boundaries of the Arab world.

Egypt is indeed a powerhouse of dance, history, literature, archeology and cinema – but Egypt had all these despite Farouk Hosni and long before him, not because of him. Instead of upgrading Egyptian culture to the level it deserves, Hosni restrained Egyptian artists, who wished to open up and show the world the fruits of their creativity in Tel Aviv.

He supported the denunciation of Egyptian journalists who visited Israel and returned to Cairo having concluded that the monster is not so bad.

His office had opposed Hebrew literature translations in Egypt, which would have exposed the Egyptian reader to another culture. He refused to open to the Jews the Jewish community’s registers in Egypt, under the pretext it could give rise to property claims.

“His proud resistance to normalization, Hosni explained, is due to Israeli occupation. This position may impress the Egyptian street. But to become head of UNESCO, one must have a vision, not vindictiveness. What became suddenly clear too, is that Farouk Hosni’s ideology is a matter of politics.

“One day, sometime in May this year, the Egyptian Minister abandoned his old views and began suddenly to express fresh positions. He gave order to translate Hebrew books in Cairo, to open and expose the community registers, and stated that he will not be deterred from visiting Israel if elected Secretary-General of UNESCO.

“Last night it emerged that even the innocent Europeans did not buy into this election propaganda. Now he could be proud of a consolation prize: if he did not receive the coveted title, at least he has added a few Jewish friends.”

Original article in Hebrew, no online link.

Hosni’s loss at UNESCO quietly pleases Israel(Jerusalem Post)

Egypt’s press fumes over UNESCO vote (Jerusalem Post)

Hosni declares a ‘culture war’ on Israel(Ynet News)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


This website is dedicated to preserving the memory of the near-extinct Jewish communities, of the Middle East and North Africa, documenting the stories of the Jewish refugees and their current struggle for recognition and restitution.

Point of No Return

Jewish Refugees from Arab and Muslim Countries

One-stop blog on the Middle East's
forgotten Jewish refugees - updated daily.