According to this article, the United States will leave UNESCO:

The United States has formally notified the UN’s world heritage body Unesco that it is withdrawing its membership of the organisation citing “continuing anti-Israel bias”.

The body is best known for its world heritage listings of outstanding cultural and natural sites but has often drawn the ire of Israel and the Trump administration for a series of decisions, including the listing of Hebron, a city in the southern part of the occupied Palestinian territories, as a Palestinian world heritage site.

As mentioned in the article, UNESCO is mostly known for its cultural activities, not political ones. Also the motives are quite vague (anti-Israel bias).

What other reasons for US leaving UNESCO organization might there be?

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    Do you mean possibly unstated reasons unrelated to Israel? Or the stated reasons in relation to Israel? Or is your question asking for examples of UNESCOs anti-Israel bias unrelated to the US decision to leave? – tim Oct 12 '17 at 20:24
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    @tim - Both possibly unstated and in relation to Israel. Leaving UNESCO is an important decision and "anti-Israel bias" seems a rather small reason to count alone for it. The article mentions about including Hebron (Palestinian city) into the world heritage site list, but it is not clear why is this an issue (UNESCO include numerous buildings/places into this list from virtually the entire world). – Alexei Oct 12 '17 at 20:35
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    Any "reason" involving budget cuts is illusory. The US passed legislation in 1990 and 1994 which prevents it making payments to any organization in which Palestine is a full member. Therefore no payments have been made to UNESCO since that time. In return, UNESCO remove the US's voting rights, though paradoxically it can still apply for membership, and be admitted, to UNESCO projects where it would otherwise have voting rights! So in a pragmatic sense, the US had already ceased to be a fully functional member long before Trump decided to make some political capital from his "decision". – alephzero Oct 13 '17 at 21:45

This is written from an Israeli point of view, which USA seems to share. For understanding these countries' motives, this is the only relevant point of view.

Since accepting Palestine as a member, UNESCO had taken a series of decisions which Israel sees as anti-Israeli.

The main points that offend Israel are:

  1. Referring to the Holy places of Jerusalem as Muslim sites, disregarding their Jewish history. E.g. using the term "Haram al-Sharif" instead of "Temple Mount".
  2. Considering Palestine, not Israel, as sovereign in Jerusalem and the West Bank.
  3. Referring to Israel as "the occupying power".
  4. Claiming that Israel damages Muslim sites, claims Israel rejects.

The executive board's 200th session decisions provides examples:

  1. 'Haram al-Sharif' used as the only name for Temple Mount.
  2. All references to Israel take the form "Israel, the occupying Power".
  3. Visits by Israelis to the Temple Mount are describes as "continuous storming of Al-Aqṣa Mosque/Al-Ḥaram Al-Sharif by Israeli right-wing extremists and uniformed forces".
  4. Claims that Israel damages holy sites, such as "Regrets the damage caused by the Israeli forces, especially since 23 August 2015, to the historic gates and windows of the al-Qibli Mosque".

USA, under Trump's administration, accepts Israel's position on this matter. Given that this organization attacks Israel, and serves as a political weapon instead of dealing with culture, The USA and Israel prefer to leave it.

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    This looks right, can you add sources for it? – JonK Oct 12 '17 at 21:51
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    For the second point, did the UNESCO consider the Palestinian Authority the sovereign of ALL of Jerusalem? Most countries recognize Israel in its pre-1967 borders, which means that the Western part of Jerusalem is recognized as Israelian. – SJuan76 Oct 12 '17 at 21:59
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    +1. Good to point out that this is only the specific view of the Israeli goverment which is shared by the USA which led to this decision and not if this position or counterpositions have any merit. – Thorsten S. Oct 12 '17 at 22:12
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    @SJuan76, UNESCO considers the sites mentioned in its decisions as Palestinian. I think all of them are in east Jerusalem. – ugoren Oct 13 '17 at 7:14
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    In general, this answer does a great job to present a subjective point of view (Israel's and US administration's) with clarity and neutrality. These words are the only exception: "Given that this organization attacks Israel, and serves as a political weapon instead of dealing with culture,". Changing "Given" into "Considering" would make the answer excellent. – Evargalo Oct 13 '17 at 7:43

The stated reasons can be seen in the press statement. They are:

  • mounting arrears at UNESCO (later specified as 550 million)
  • the need for fundamental reform in the organization
  • continuing anti-Israel bias

As your article notes, the decision to leave was made months ago. It is not unlikely that the Occupied Palestine Resolution from October 2016 played a part in the decision (Trump strongly criticized it back then). The resolution was explicitely anti-Israel; it called it an "occupying power", condemned it for alleged human rights violations, and denied Jewish cultural ties to the Temple Mount. In response, Israel suspended ties with UNESCO.

As the previous Al Jazeera article notes, this is not the only anti-Israel resolution. Indeed, there have been 46 such resolutions from 2009-2014. In the same time frame, there has been 1 resolution against any other countries (Syria).

Other examples for the anti-Israel bias of UNESCO can eg be seen at Wikipedia. They include further accusations of trying to separate Jewish or Israeli ties to holy sites and ties to a university which supports Hamas.

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    The "46 anti-Israel resolution" source is pretty biased. Recognizing a World Heritage site in Palestina (there are three in Cisjordania and one in East Jerusalem) is no more "Anti-Israel" than recognizing sites in Israel (there are 13) is "anti-Palestinian". Either you consider both to be cultural resolutions and politically neutral (sounds reasonnable to me), either you count both as political gestures, but these websites are cherry-picking their facts and using double-standards. – Evargalo Oct 13 '17 at 8:40
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    The reason for the money problem is USA refusing to pay its membership dues. – Reinstate Monica - M. Schröder Oct 13 '17 at 10:31
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    @MartinSchröder Yes, that is my understanding as well. The US owes 550 million because it stopped payments in 2011 after UNESCO gave full membership to Palestinians, and they don't want to pay that. – tim Oct 13 '17 at 10:45
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    The US may claim anti-Israeli bias, and you're correct to state that this is what they say. However stating yourself that this is anti-Israeli bias is your personal opinion, not a fact. Presenting evidence of human rights abuses, for example, is the kind of reason the UN exists - this is not anti-Israel, but rather anti-the-actions-of-Israel. (Hate the sin, not the sinner, if you like.) – Graham Oct 13 '17 at 17:27
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    @Graham I did provide some sources, so it's not only my opinion. And pointing out human rights abuses is not UNESCOs purpose. Working with Hamas-affiliated universities or denying Jewish ties to Jewish cultural sites is also not really pointing out human rights violations. And if it were, a one-sidedness of pointing these out when there are other nations which commit actual violations in much higher numbers is still showing a bias. – tim Oct 13 '17 at 17:42

A few reasons:

Hebron, a city in Palestine, was recently recognized against heavy Israeli protest as a world heritage site. This was the turning point that brought us to where we are now.

Additionally Unesco is voting a new chief in. Current leaders are Hamad bin Abdulaziz al-Kawari (Qatar) and Moushira Khattab (Egypt), along with a French national Audrey Azoulay. Israel knows the next leader isn't going to be pro-Israel and likely side with the 'anti-Israel' rulings.

Second big reason is America's push to isolationism. America has been withdrawing from its seat as a world leader in several capacities under the Trump administration, including the Paris Accords, NAFTA, and anything else they can get their populace frenzied about. Something you can see from a few world leaders' statements:

French UN diplomat: "“part of America’s DNA” and that “we need an America that stays committed to world affairs.”"

And Russia: "“one of the countries that founded the UN system” is “a shock and a pity.”"

UNESCO is a growing financial liability to some degree and separating from it for financial reasons is also a likely reason for this move.

Info on Hebron:

Trying this for a second time. "UN designates Hebron tomb revered within Jewish faith as Palestinian heritage site" is the headline ran by the independent here http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/hebron-tomb-palestinian-heritage-site-un-jewish-faith-ibrahimi-mosque-jerusalem-a7829261.html

Hebron contains multiple religious sites, the two major ones in conflict here is the Muslim site of the ibrahimi-mosque and the Jewish site of the Tomb of the Patriarchs. It also fully lies in a 'disputed zone' where Israel claims it as theirs while UNESCO continually gives Palestine authority the nod there.

As much as the Jewish claim being ignored, the major issue presented by Israel has more to do with one particular wording by UNESCO. from here https://www.standard.co.uk/news/world/donald-trump-quitting-unesco-sends-a-warning-to-other-un-bodies-over-palestine-london-expert-warns-a3657426.html "“What’s most angering Israel is the labelling of sites in East Jerusalem as on ‘occupied Palestinian territory.’""

UNESCO of recent has been accused of having a Muslim majority ruling it and have been making decisions that are being called skewed as pro-muslim and anti-hebrew. Referring to Palestine sites as 'occupied' (IE belongs to Palestine but occupied by Israel) is heavily contentious.

Its also interesting to note that the worldjewishcongress is heavily advertising this, pumping a good chunk of change into google adwords to ensure their viewpoint is readily seen. Edit as per comment : Typing in "Hebron UNESCO Israel" into google gives the first result with a little 'ad' symbol beside it as https://www.googleadservices.com/pagead/aclk?sa=L&ai=DChcSEwj9ycLjl-7WAhWPPYEKHT8SD54YABAAGgJ5dw&ohost=www.google.ca&cid=CAESEeD2HYgUQmeAbTU-tJnyBrOq&sig=AOD64_071ndha_5bMKaBqZgQZ_6YZytvZQ&q=&ved=0ahUKEwit0brjl-7WAhXhlVQKHbx_CiYQ0QwIJg&adurl= Google keyword advertising may differ pending your location.

  • @Twelfth Isolationism means not being involved in the affairs of other countries. It would be difficult to find any country on Earth that was more involved in the affairs of other countries than the U.S. Russia and China might come close. Also, the U.S. hasn't withdrawn (and won't withdraw) from NATO. Withdrawing from a trade agreement or an agreement to stop sanctioning another country isn't isolationism at all, pattern or otherwise. It might be consider uncooperative, but it's not isolationism of any sort. At any rate, the UNESCO issues far predate Trump (by decades.) – reirab Oct 13 '17 at 22:44
  • @reirab im talking trending and a move towards isolationism compared to where it was years ago. 'Screw you guys im going home' ala south park can sadly sum up american foriegn policy more often than not in the past year and this UNESCO move falls perfectly inline with that, along with the many other examples ive presented. Im not saying america is isolationist, i am however saying this had been a heavy trend in the past year. – Twelfth Oct 14 '17 at 1:24
  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Sam I am says Reinstate Monica Oct 14 '17 at 3:00
  • "Ibrahimi-mosque and the Jewish site of the Tomb of the Patriarchs" are one and the same. Your answer sounds as if these are two separate sites. Abraham is known as Ibrahim in Arabic. "labelling of sites in East Jerusalem as Palestinian hertiage sites" specifically The Temple Mount, the most holy site in Judaism. Like proclaiming Medina Jewish heritage site. (which it actually were, as Yathrib, but that's another story). – Genli Ai Oct 15 '17 at 14:01
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    @someguy - thanks for that clarification, the articles speak of it as different entities as well. " (yes, of Jews by their Arab Moslem neighbors, in case you had any doubt)." followed by the occupation by Israel in the 6 day war of 1967 where it's been considered occupied by Israel ever since. Muslim presence predates 500 years ago too, but it's traded hands repeatedly through history. Both sides have massacred the other using previous massacres as justifications. Eye for an Eye I guess – Twelfth Oct 16 '17 at 18:28

The U.S. has been distancing themselves from UNESCO for years. This started in 2011 when funding was cut to UNESCO for them recognizing Palestine as a full member, which was required by law dating back to the 90s. In 2013 the U.S. lost voting rights per the UNESCO bylaws. The recent withdrawal from UNESCO is really just formalizing policy that has existed since funding was stopped in 2011.

Recognition of Palestine is itself a political activity.

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    It goes back much further than that. The US left UNESCO over Israel/Palestine in 1974 and left again over communism in 1984 (source: BBC). – David Richerby Oct 13 '17 at 15:53
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    Your wording makes it sound like recognizing Palestine as a full member was required by law, rather than that cutting funding was required. – Acccumulation Oct 15 '17 at 0:12
  • "The recent withdrawal from UNESCO is really just formalizing policy..." I wouldn't say it's just formalizing what is already there. It goes a bit beyond what is already there, some kind of progress in that direction. – Trilarion Oct 17 '17 at 7:19

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