Saturday, June 6, 2020 -
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What a joke, except . . . it’s not

After the official and upsetting acceptance of a nonexistent Palestinian State into UNESCO this week, I received this little vignette that was circulating.

“When Golda Meir visited Princeton in the 1970’s, at a question and answer section in the main auditorium of the university, one of the students asked her: ‘Why was it that UNESCO had rejected Israel and accepted the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) for membership.” (By the way, Israel joined UNESCO in 1949 but was forbidden from voting in a UNESCO regional section until 1974.)

“Golda replied that that was a question that should be addressed to UNESCO, not her.

“The student pressed on: Correct. But it would be interesting to know your opinion as to why UNESCO made these decisions.

“Golda replied: ‘As you know, UNESCO stands for the United Nations Education, Science, and Culture Organization. We must assume that these gentlemen, after due consideration, came to the conclusion that the PLO has more to contribute to education, science, and culture than Israel!’

“The audience roared with laughter and applauded.”

It sounds like just another typical, witty and acerbic “Golda story.” Whether it actually took place, I don’t know. Perhaps this is just a good myth in the famous style of Golda Meir.

But what is definitely true about this possibly authentic vignette is its message. Which is, what a joke!

The rest of this article is available in the IJN’s print edition only. Contact Carol to order your copy at (303) 861-2234 or email


Tehilla R. Goldberg

IJN columnist | View from Central Park

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