UNESCSO Dir-Gen Matsuura: "Any attempt to call into question or to deny the reality of the Holocaust or of any other crime against humanity is to be deeply regretted. UNESCO has a major role to play in this work of transmission, which is of especial importance to the younger generations." (Dec 13, 2006)

(Communicated by the Foreign Ministry Spokesman)

The Director-General of UNESCO – the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization – Mr. Koïchiro Matsuura, arrived on his first official visit to Israel (4-7 February). During the visit he will sign a memorandum of understanding on cooperation between Israel and UNESCO.

Former Japanese deputy foreign minister Matsuura has displayed a friendly and fair attitude towards Israel, reflected in his important statements censuring both the British anti-Israeli academic boycott and the denial of the Holocaust by Iranian President Ahmadinejad at the conference in Teheran. Under Matsuura’s leadership, UNESCO also adopted a constructive position on the issue of the Mugrabi ramp in Jerusalem.

UNESCO has been selected to play a leading role in the UN Holocaust outreach program to promote the awareness of Holocaust remembrance through education and to combat all forms of Holocaust denial, in accordance with the Holocaust Remembrance resolution adopted by the UNESCO General Conference in October 2007.

Director-General Matsuura will meet on Wednesday (6 February) with Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Tzipi Livni, and sign the memorandum of understanding consolidating the relations between Israel and UNESCO. The memorandum defines issues of common interest to both: advancing Holocaust education among the UNESCO member states, the development of education in the sub-Sahara states, the development of a network of schools affiliated with UNESCO, the development of scientific centers in peripheral areas in Africa through MASHAV, the Israel Foreign Ministry Center for International Cooperation, and more.

During the course of the visit, Director-General Matsuura will also meet with Israeli Minister of Science and Culture Rajeb Majadele and Minister of Education Yuli Tamir, as well as with the Director of Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority, and the Mayor of Tel Aviv.