Menu

Opinion

Why is access to UN Headquarters being controlled by UN Palestinian Rights Division?

RTR3FHCG.jpg

Benjamin Netanyahu, prime minister of Israel, addresses the 68th United Nations General Assembly at the U.N. headquarters in New York, October 1, 2013.Reuters

American taxpayers have now paid over half a billion dollars to renovate United Nations Headquarters in New York City. And guess who is controlling access to the meeting rooms? The UN Division for Palestinian Rights.

On Friday, November 15, 2013, an official UN-accredited Jewish non-governmental organization had its security clearance to attend an open UN meeting in New York revoked just because the UN staff dedicated to all things Palestinian said so.

A group of 18 Birthright Israel alumni had been invited to witness “UN Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People” by the UN-accredited Touro Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust. 

Despite marking an event calling for an Arab and a Jewish state, the UN chamber where the event is held is always decorated with only the flag of “Palestine.” The Israeli flag is banished

The annual occasion is the apex of the UN’s Israel-bashing calendar.

Evidently, the prospect of pro-Israel Jewish observers was too much for UN officials to bear. The UN Charter’s promise of “the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small, be damned.

The annual event, which this year will be held on November 25, marks November 29, 1947 – the day that the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution which partitioned Palestine into a Jewish and an Arab state. 

It was a resolution accepted by Jews and rejected across the Arab world. It was also a day celebrated by the victims of the Nazis and the Jewish people in their ancient homeland and around the world. 

At the UN, however, it’s been downhill ever since. 

Former Secretary-General Kofi Annan characterized Solidarity Day as “a day of mourning and a day of grief,” and every year under UN auspices, member states and NGOs gather to mourn the creation of the Jewish state.

This year, the admission passes of the Jewish NGO group had been officially approved, security clearance had been granted, and the passes were scheduled to be picked up. That is, until UN security official Lt. Paul Jankowsky, reversed course and unilaterally decided that the Chief of the UN Palestinian rights division, Wolfgang Grieger, had a veto over who could attend.

The November 15 message sent to the Touro Institute from Jankowsky reads: “the Division for Palestinian Rights…are the meeting organizers….The organizers instruct me not to issue additional passes that they did not request.”

Jankowsky and Grieger’s interference occurred despite the fact that the meeting was clearly advertised on the UN’s own website with the unequivocal statement: “NGOs are invited to attend.”  

Furthermore, an open invitation announcing the date, time and place had been advertised with no restrictions of any kind in the UN’s Daily Journal of the very same day, November 15.

Given that the campaign to exclude Jewish groups which support Israel from attending UN meetings is a direct violation of the UN Charter, a letter was sent to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon requesting that he require his staff to adhere to the UN’s founding principles. 

But the Secretary-General has apparently been too busy to respond. He’s been in Auschwitz this week conveying his heartfelt opposition to discrimination against Jews.

One might think that the other party which ought to be interested in overturning the UN-Palestinian takeover of UN premises is the US Mission to the United Nations. And indeed, a letter was sent to US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power. But she has not responded to either a letter or phone call.

Palestinian Solidarity Day is a big deal at the UN. Speeches in New York are given by each of the President of the General Assembly, the President of the Security Council and the Secretary-General. 

Also present are NGOs. 

The kind that make the cut are the likes of extremist Roger Waters. He formally represented “civil society” at last year’s event and was handed a microphone. He then accused Israel of “ethnic cleansing,” voiced his support for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaigns, claimed “Hamas is open to permanent peace with Israel,” and even demanded that the General Assembly terminate the membership of Israel from the UN until its “illegal apartheid regime” ends.

Despite marking an event calling for an Arab and a Jewish state, the UN chamber where the event is held is always decorated with only the flag of “Palestine.” The Israeli flag is banished. There isn’t anything subtle about UN Palestinian Solidarity Day. 

The conveners – the UN states that are members of the “Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People” – have successfully ratcheted up the festivities year-after-year. “Art” shows, musicians, films, dance troupes, all at the UN and all with the same recurring theme: the demonic depiction of the Jewish state and absolution for Palestinian intolerance and violence. 

Organizers are so pleased by the unimpeded anti-Semitism, that this year they have forwarded a resolution to the General Assembly – expected to be adopted next week – “proclaiming 2014 the International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.” According to the resolution, the General Assembly “would request the Committee to organize activities to be held during the Year.”

Looks like excluding Jews 24/7 from events at UN Headquarters is just around the corner.

Anne Bayefsky is director of the Touro Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust. Follow her on Twitter @AnneBayefsky.