Following Twitter-fueled furor, Israeli minister’s flamboyant wife severs ties with UNICEF

Judy Shalom Nir-Mozes steps down from honorary position in wake of campaign to boot her from UN body over ‘racist comments against Palestinian children’

Judy Shalom Nir-Mozes (Flash90)
Judy Shalom Nir-Mozes (Flash90)

Judy Shalom Nir-Mozes, the colorful wife of Vice Prime Minister Silvan Shalom, broke off her ties to UNICEF on Thursday, following a fallout that culminated in a series of controversial tweets in November, in the midst of Operation Pillar of Defense, Israel’s brief war with terror factions in the Gaza Strip.

During the eight-day conflict, Silvan Shalom’s Twitter account was hacked by pro-Hamas activists. In response, Nir-Mozes tweeted: “The murderers have taken over Silvan’s Facebook, Twitter and email [accounts]. Our son Nimrod is trying to salvage [them]. I wish they would die!”

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At the time, UNICEF tweeted a disclaimer stating that Nir-Mozes’s comments did not reflect the views of the organization.

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UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund, is a program dedicated to protecting the rights and improving the lives of children around the world, particularly in underdeveloped countries.

There is some uncertainty as to what exactly Nir-Mozes’s role was with UNICEF. When she joined the organization in October, she posted on her Facebook page that she was excited about her “new position as chairperson of the Israeli branch” of the organization.

However, a UNICEF representative posted in response that Nir-Mozes had merely been appointed by the Board of the Israeli Fund for UNICEF (IFU) as the “honorary chair of the annual general meeting.”

Since that appointment, an online effort has been under way to have her removed from the position, citing her “racist comments against Palestinian children.” One notable incident that angered many occurred in March 2012, when southern Israel was suffering from a barrage of rocket fire from the Gaza Strip.

Nir-Mozes tweeted at the time, “I hope that today they decide to destroy Gaza if they don’t stop shooting. Let them suffer as well.”

The following day she added, “It’s not fair that we’re sleeping here in silence and a million people down south live under fire! We need to bomb Gaza.”

On her Facebook page on Thursday, Nir-Mozes posted that she had decided “to resign from my role as the chairperson of UNICEF Israel.”

“I came to work and to devote my time and skills to improve the lot of children,” Nir-Mozes wrote. “I did not feel that in this framework I was given a real opportunity to accomplish that.”

Nir-Mozes wished UNICEF well, referring to the body as “a wonderful organization with an important agenda.”

But, she added, “because it is connected to the UN, it placed obstacles — bureaucratic, political and otherwise — that prevented me from promoting the goals that I had set for myself when I accepted this position.”

Nir Mozes-Shalom is the daughter of Noah Mozes, the late owner of Yedioth Ahronoth, and the sister of Arnon Mozes, the paper’s current publisher. She is a leading Israeli socialite and hosts a talk show on Israel Radio.

Ilan Ben Zion contributed to this report.

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