UNICEF's presentation of Israel

In the days following Israel's 60th Independence Day, one of the country's greatest foes has decided to establish itself as a powerful force in Lebanon. Searching for a decent Lebanese map, I happened upon the United Nations Children's Fund website. The site navigation is very well laid out. I had no problem finding the Info By Country link, and from there the Middle East and North Africa link was right in the middle of the page. Then, I looked down at the list of countries:

  • Algeria
  • Bahrain
  • Djibouti
  • Egypt
  • Iran (Islamic Republic of)
  • Iraq
  • Jordan
  • Kuwait
  • Lebanon
  • Libyan Arab Jamahiriya
  • Morocco
  • occupied Palestinian territory
  • Oman
  • Qatar
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Sudan
  • Syrian Arab Republic
  • Tunisia
  • United Arab Emirates
  • Yemen

Notice something there that shouldn't be? No, there is nothing there that shouldn't be. Notice anything missing? Israel seems to not exist. Clearly, that viewpoint is favored by the majority of the nations on the list. I clicked around and did eventually find a link to Israel, however, I doubt that many people less persistent than myself would have found it. Go ahead, try to find Israel for yourself, either from the UNICEF homepage (where I started) or from the Middle East and North Africa page (where I ended up). If the world is to be categorized geographically, I would expect Israel to be right there in the Middle East. Not erased without a mention, as Israel's neighbors would most certainly like.

Now that I've found UNICEF's page on Israel, lets take a look at the map. Sorry, no map. In fact, other than a link to the Hebrew-language Israel committee for unicef [sic] website and local Israeli contact information, the only information on the page is a "Basic Indicators" table which lists vital statistics such as Israel's "Under-5 mortality rank", "Under-5 mortality rate, 1990", and "Under-5 mortality rate, 2005". Contrast that to any other nation listed on the North Africa and Middle East page, with maps and articles such as local "UNICEF priorities", "Issues facing children", and "Activities and results for children". To be fair, Algeria, Iraq, and Sudan also lack maps and special features, though each of those nations' pages feature a "Newsline" section and Press Release. For those who do not speak Hebrew, all official information concerning Israel and UNICEF ends here. Those who can read Hebrew can follow the link to the Israel committee for unicef [sic] website. The website mostly describes current UNICEF activities outside Israel, with special attention currently on Darfur. The UNICEF and the State of Israel page mentions how UNICEF provided emergency care, children's food, health services, and the "Safe Milk" program in Israel's first years.

As grateful as I am to UNICEF for their work of 50 years ago, I would like to see a less biased presentation of my nation to the world. If the Arabs don't like to see our name on the Middle East page, then let them contest our existence in either the UN General Assembly or on the battlefield. It is not UNICEF's position to appease the Arab states by literally erasing Israel from the map. I would also like to see a list of "Issues facing children" in Israel compiled and published.

Date Published: 2008-05-23


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