(Contributed by the MFA Spokesperson)
Israel’s term as member of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) Executive Board begins on 1 January 2013. This is the third time that Israel has served on the Executive Board of this prestigious and important organization, after a break of over 40 years.
UNICEF, which operates in approximately 200 countries, is a humanitarian rescue organization that is concerned with children’s health around the world, and supplies them with clean water, proper nutrition, education, humanitarian relief in disaster zones and more.
The organization was established in 1946 by Ludwik Rajchman, a Jewish-Polish pediatrician and Holocaust survivor. Dr. Rajchman’s original idea, to help European children who were victims of the Holocaust, developed into an international organization whose goal was to help all children, anywhere in the world.
UNICEF’s connection with Israel began in 1948, at which time the organization responded favorably to the request to provide humanitarian aid to the new country, and shipped food, blankets, vaccines and medical equipment for the treatment of children and mothers.
Later on, from 1951 to 1959, Israel served on the UNICEF Executive Board under the status of a developing country. In 1955, Israel chaired the Board. This position was filled by Mrs. Zina Harman, the wife of Israel’s ambassador to the United States and a member (until 1955) of Israel’s delegation to the United Nations.
Mrs. Harman also represented Israel on the UNICEF Executive Board from 1963 to 1965, during which time she received the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the organization. In 1969 she established the Israel Fund for UNICEF, a non-profit organization staffed by volunteers whose aim was providing education and fund-raising for the international organization. Thus, Israel was transformed from a country initially assisted by UNICEF into a ‘supporter country’, joining the long list of Western UNICEF members.
Israel has an excellent network of connections with the organization. The Israeli Fund for UNICEF, operating from Tel Aviv, has raised millions of shekels for the organization’s activities for the benefit of children around the world. Israel also cooperates with the organization in various areas of
assistance projects in Third World countries.
Israel’s term on the UNICEF Executive Board is for the duration of one year, 2013, and its representatives, MFA officials, intend to take an active role in discussions and in the management of the organization.