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Israeli historian donates $1 million to mitigate US suspension of WHO funding

(JTA) — Israeli author and historian Yuval Noah Harari has pledged $1 million to the World Health Organization, or WHO, to mitigate the suspension of U.S. funding.

“Unfortunately, the US president has chosen this moment to halt funding to the WHO,” Harari and Itzik Yahav, his husband, wrote in a statement bearing the letterhead of Sapienship, the nonprofit they established in 2019. “Luckily, there are more than 7 billion other humans on this earth, and we can do better.

“Our biggest enemy is not coronavirus, but the inner demons of humankind: hatred and greed.”

On Tuesday, President Donald Trump suspended funding to WHO, reportedly for at least 60 days, saying the organization “failed in its basic duty and it must be held accountable.” The United States has an outstanding balance of $99 million in fees and contributions to WHO.

Some Trump critics said he was deflecting blame for the damage that COVID-19, which has killed more than 35,000 people in the U.S., is causing to the country’s society and economy.

Other world leaders have accused WHO of bowing to China, where authorities initially concealed the outbreak that grew into the pandemic.

“Early on, if the WHO had not insisted to the world that China had no pneumonia epidemic, then everybody would’ve taken precautions,” Japanese Deputy Prime Minister Aso Taro said last month.

In mid-January, Chinese officials said there was no evidence the virus could be transmitted between humans on a broad scale. WHO endorsed the claims.