Back to Unesco’s Future

The Palestinian Authority (PA) yesterday took its statehood road show to the Paris-based U.N. Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization, and shock, surprise, it found a receptive audience. Unesco became the first United Nations agency to accept the PA as a full member.

The vote, adopted by 107 to 14 with 52 abstentions, carries unfortunate consequences for the U.S., the U.N. and the Palestinians. What it won't do is hasten the day that Palestine becomes a state.

Dressed as a symbolic fillip to Palestinian aspirations, yesterday's vote is in fact a rebuke to America's efforts to engage with the U.N.. Ronald Reagan pulled the U.S. out of Unesco in 1984 after it became a byword for corruption and anti-Americanism.

The Bush Administration rejoined in 2003, having pushed through an overhaul of Unesco's budgeting and personnel procedures. New, ostensibly competent management was put in charge. The agency's focus on adult illiteracy and primary education in the developing world fit into U.S. priorities in a post-9/11 world—or at least that was the official justification....