UNESCO Director-General at Annual Dinner of the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions in France


From left to right: CRIF Vice President and member of the executive office Francis Khalifat, UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, and CRIF President, Roger Cukierman
© Erez Lichtfeld
08 March 2016

On 7 March, the Director-General of UNESCO, Ms Irina Bokova, attended the annual dinner of the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions in France (CRIF) at the invitation of its President, Mr. Roger Cukierman, and in the presence of Mr Manuel Valls, Prime Minister of the French Republic.

Referring to the present context, Roger Cukierman noted the expansion of forms of ‘communitarianism’ “that isolate and traumatize”. The President of CRIF also drew attention to increasing messages of hatred on social networks, declaring that “the state of emergency should also apply to the Internet”.

Manuel Valls referred to the resurgence of anti-Semitism and the dangers of “a radicalized youth”. He continued his intervention on behalf of the French government by highlighting the efforts of the latter to modify specific legislation concerning equality and citizenship, in order to shift anti-Semitic and racist crimes, judged according to the press law, into common law. He said that, “in this way, it will be clear, without any ambiguity, that freedom of expression, which we so highly cherish, is not a licence for spreading hatred”.

Irina Bokova reminded that education, in particular education for global citizenship, remains the most powerful weapon to fight against ignorance, anti-Semitism and the radicalization of young people.

In the presence of eminent personalities, intellectuals, experts and political representatives, the discussions explored the terrorist attacks that occurred last year in Paris, with emphasis on individual and collective responsibility to combat intolerance and prevent messages of hatred and rejection of others, especially in the context of multicultural societies and rising challenges associated with current migration.