Notwithstanding alleged U.N. support for a two-state solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict, at New York Headquarters Tuesday only the flag of the non-state of Palestine was flown alongside the U.N.’s own flag. The flag of the member state of Israel was barred.
This is how the U.N. General Assembly marked the anniversary of November 29, 1947 when it adopted the partition resolution that sanctioned a Jewish and another Arab state in the former Mandate for Palestine. “International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People,” as it is called, is the U.N.’s annual attempt to turn the clock back.
This year Palestinian U.N. Ambassador Riyad Mansour tried to gather momentum for propelling the unilateral Palestinian statehood bid forward. A controversial statement of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, delivered by his Deputy, appeared intended to do just that.
The Secretary-General announced: “The Palestinian Authority is now institutionally ready to assume the responsibilities of statehood…” No matter that the Palestinian gambit violates UN resolutions, the Roadmap, bilateral agreements and repeated international and bilateral commitments to negotiations. Ban also said “Jerusalem must emerge from negotiations as the capital of two states” – despite remembering near the end of his statement that “the goal” was “a negotiated peace agreement on all final status issues including…Jerusalem.” And Ban called “settlement activity” “contrary to international law,” while explaining to “those in Gaza who fire rockets at Israel and smuggle weapons” that “these actions are unacceptable and contrary to Palestinian interests.”
Speaking on behalf of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Mansour clearly relished his annual moment at UN center stage. He accused Israel of the alleged offense of “Judaization,” in addition to “ethnic cleansing” and “apartheid.” Without batting an eye over the preposterous distortion, he claimed Israel’s membership in the UN was “conditional” upon “Israel’s commitment to the partition resolution” which he stressed gave it less area than it has now. He never mentioned that in 1947 Jews accepted the resolution and Arabs rejected it.
Solidarity Day also featured Yahya Mahmassani, speaking for the League of Arab States, who explicitly rejected Israel’s “insistence on recognition as a Jewish state.” Only one representative of “civil society” was invited – Americans United for Palestinian Human Rights. The reasons for his invitation quickly became clear as he called Israel an “apartheid state,” demanded “boycotts, divestment and sanctions,” claimed Israel was guilty of “pogroms,” and alleged that U.S. support for Israel resulted from our being “held hostage to domestic politics.” Ambassador Mansour clapped when the rant finally ended.
At the conclusion of the speeches, the Senegalese Chair of the UN “Committee on the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People” encouraged everyone to attend the screening by the UN of the film “La Terre Parle Arabe” or “The Land Speaks Arabic” – “in order to show solidarity with the Palestinian people.” Advertised in the UN daily journal,, the film draws parallels between the Nazis’ final solution and the alleged Zionist “brutal plans” for Palestinians.
The script for this UN-promoted film included: “Christians and Muslims alike…unite in their hatred of Zionism…I preferred to die as a martyr rather than be governed by the Jews …We were against the Jews…The number of Jews increased constantly…They were Zionists!… The Jews were shooting at us…They started killing people who were asleep…[We]…found a poor woman…pregnant. They had killed her and the baby came out of the womb. They started slaughtering them until morning.”
The carefully orchestrated day also had other components. The U.N. event room prominently featured a set of six-foot high information panels; they described successive attempts at the Arab annihilation of Israel as random acts of spontaneous combustion.
Panel 1: “In 1948 as a result of the war between Israel and its neighboring Arab states, almost 750,000 Palestinians…became refugees.” “1967 and 1973: Following two wars, the Security Council [adopted] resolutions...” At the same time, Palestinian violence was justified.
Panel 2: “1987: The first Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation begins.”
Moreover, in the public entrance to the U.N. – a staple for all visiting American school children – an exhibit was launched teaching the same pathology of historical Palestinian ownership of modern Israel, the recognition of Jewish self-determination as a “catastrophe,” and innocent peace-loving Palestinians continuing to suffer at Israeli hands.
Entitled “Palestinian Vista: Uprooted from our homeland…” it purports to describe “the eternal love of the people for their land” and ties to “antiquity.” Paintings include one of a weeping Palestinian woman called “Tears reflecting our catastrophe,” and another of a Palestinian man clutching a tree accompanied by the words “If olive trees were able to recall their farmers, their oil would have turned into tears!”
The conclusion of the exercise culminates today with the adoption by the General Assembly of six more resolutions condemning Israel. This will bring the 2011 total for General Assembly condemnations of Israel to twenty as compared to seven criticizing human rights in all other 192 U.N. member states...combined.
The annual ritual of Palestinian Solidarity Day did make one thing perfectly clear. The Palestinian Authority is far from ready to assume the responsibilities of statehood, first and foremost the commitment to peaceful coexistence that it requires.
The U.N. tradition of providing a platform for hate speech and an alternative to negotiation continues to fuel more than half a century of lethal political immaturity.
Anne Bayefsky is a Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute and director of the Touro Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust.