by Joseph Klein
In yet another display of pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel bias, the United Nations decided that observing the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People annually on November 29th was simply not enough. November 29th was the date in 1947 when the UN General Assembly approved its partition plan resolution that would have given the Palestinians a state of their own more than six decades ago, side by side with Israel. The UN General Assembly voted late last month to declare the entire year of 2014 the “International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.” The vote was 110 in favor, 7 opposed and 54 abstaining. This action comes about one year after the UN General Assembly voted to grant the Palestinians observer state status. The General Assembly passed other anti-Israel resolutions as well last month, including one that called for Israel to return the Golan Heights to Syria and another telling Israeli authorities to stop imposing their jurisdiction on Jerusalem.
In case anyone is interested in keeping count, 21 resolutions specific to Israel were passed during this year’s General Assembly session. That’s one less than the number of General Assembly resolutions condemning Israel that passed last year. That’s a lot of solidarity with the Palestinians’ distortion of the truth.
“I ask all in the international community to work together to translate the solidarity expressed on this occasion into positive action for peace and justice,” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement. “The goal remains clear – an end to the occupation that started in 1967 and the creation of a sovereign, independent, and viable State of Palestine based on the 1967 borders, living side by side in peace with a secure State of Israel.”
It must be nice for the Palestinians to know that they have the UN Secretary General on their side as the world approaches the Palestinians’ special year of solidarity. He declared as “clear” the final status border between Israel and a Palestinian state based on the Palestinians’ uncompromising demand, without any mention of other troublesome issues such as the Palestinians’ insistence on the “right of return” of millions of their refugees’ descendants to pre-1967 Israel. It’s probably even more comforting for the Palestinians to know that they have President Obama in their corner as well on these issues.
The General Assembly year of solidarity resolution requested the UN’s Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People to organize activities around the year-long observance, in cooperation with member state governments, the United Nations system, intergovernmental organizations and civil society. In other words, the United Nations facilities will become the Palestinians’ stage to flaunt their victimhood melodrama, as often as possible and however they choose, for the next full year.
In its report to this year’s session of the General Assembly, the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People stated its priorities for 2014:
“The Committee intends to mobilize increased international scrutiny of the developments on the ground, in particular settlement activities, and will emphasize responsibility and promote action by the international community to put an end to all illegal Israeli policies and practices in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem. The Committee will examine the legal ramifications of the new international status of the State of Palestine, and will also continue to call attention to the plight of the Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jails and urge a resolution of their plight.”
Thus, expect lots of Sturm und Drang at the UN all year long over alleged Israeli atrocities, settlements and bad faith in the peace negotiations. Expect one-sided seminars and forums on Palestinians’ legal rights as a “state,” and solemn “academic” discussions of how the Palestinians must have recourse to the International Criminal Court to seek redress for alleged Israeli crimes against humanity. There likely will be more calls to endorse the campaign of boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel, which is already gaining some traction on U.S. campuses. Will years of Palestinian terror against Israeli civilians and the Palestinians’ use of their own women and children as human shields and suicide bombers be discussed in any of those sessions? Will Israel’s significant help to support the Palestinians’ economy in the West Bank be acknowledged? Not a chance.
Plays, art work and concerts most likely will be used for emotional effect to dramatize the Palestinians’ plight – self-inflicted as it may be.
Staged photographs of desperate looking Palestinian children amidst rubble in Gaza have already appeared on UN walls. And the UN itself has also been a party to disseminating false information via emotional photographic images. One such photo, purporting to show a bloodied Palestinian child injured by an Israeli air strike, was included in a tweet by an Information and Media Coordinator for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Along with the photo she sent out on Twitter, she included the following message: “Palestine is bleeding. Another child killed by #Israel. Another father carrying his child to a grave in #Gaza.” The photo, it turns out, was actually taken in 2006 and was of a girl injured by falling off a swing. But the truth rarely catches up with the lies that regularly circulate at the UN when it comes to the Palestinians and their self-pitying narrative of victimhood.
The Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People will decide who is allowed access to events held on UN property in connection with the year of solidarity, even if the events are supposed to be open to the public without discrimination. This committee has already flexed its muscles. Apparently as part of its “exercise of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people,” the Committee insisted that a UN accredited non-governmental organization which does not toe the Palestinian line be barred from attending events held on UN premises in observance of the 2013 day of Palestinian solidarity. UN staff, including from the Division for Palestinian Rights and UN security, played the role of the Palestinians’ bouncers. That’s just a preview of what to expect in 2014 when the Palestinians and their advocates will have the run of the place that U.S. taxpayers have spent billions of dollars to subsidize.
Anne Bayefsky, director of The Touro Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust, the Jewish human rights group barred from access to a public UN-sponsored event in observance of the 2013 day of Palestinian solidarity, warned that 2014 will become a “year of excluding pro-Israel Jewish organizations from the United Nations.” And in a slap at the Obama administration’s ineffectiveness in blocking this blatant display of anti-Semitism enabled by UN staff, Anne Bayefsky added: “U.S. taxpayers have paid over half a billion dollars renovating U.N. Headquarters in the middle of New York City, and yet the Obama administration has ceded access to public meetings therein for the first time ever to the UN Division for Palestinian Rights. It’s an outrage, and must be challenged immediately.”
Already, the United Nations is reported to be spending $6 million annually on the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, the Division for Palestinian Rights of the Secretariat, and the Special Information Programme on the Question of Palestine of the UN Secretariat’s Department of Public Information. Even more money has been spent over the years on special “investigations” and one-sided reports emerging from the inappropriately named UN Human Rights Council. That too is just a prelude to 2014, when the United Nations will be spending lavishly to feed the Palestinians’ propaganda machine all year long.
The fact is that every year the Palestinians bleed the UN and its member states of more and more money, particularly for the United Nations Relief and Work Agency for Palestinian Refugees (“UNRWA”). The budget for UNRWA’s core activities (general fund) for 2013 is approximately $663 million. On top of that are monies pledged and earmarked for special emergency funds. The United States is by far the largest contributor. The U.S. contribution totaled $233.3 million for FY2012. Since its inception, U.S. government contributions to UNRWA have amounted to approximately $4.6 billion. The neighboring Arab countries, despite all their bluster about the plight of the Palestinians and expressions of “solidarity” with them, contribute a pittance by comparison.
UNRWA is about as old as the United Nations itself. The General Assembly created it in 1949 as a “temporary” relief agency providing humanitarian assistance to Palestinian Arabs, who had left their homes in Israel in 1948. There were somewhere between 600,000 and 760,000 such refugees at the time. More than sixty years later, UNRWA is a permanent UN fixture, far larger than any other United Nations sponsored humanitarian relief agency. Palestinian refugees represent less than 18% of the world’s refugees, yet UNRWA is the only UN agency devoted to just one refugee group – the Palestinians – spending one third of all UN resources earmarked for refugees.
Today, a fifth generation of Palestinian Arab refugees is served by UNRWA. Palestinian Arab refugees and their descendants registered with UNRWA now number around 4.9 million, and are scattered throughout Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the West Bank. The refugees’ neighboring Arab states have refused to provide permanent homes and citizenship to their fellow Arabs. Not exactly the kind of solidarity that would make a real difference.
The International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People will be a year-long circus of events meant to show as much pity in the international community for the Palestinians as they show for themselves and to demonize Israel as the sole cause of their problems. Trying to get the Palestinians to start taking responsibility for the many mistakes they have made and the harms they have caused to themselves and others for more than six decades will not be on the agenda. Showing uncritical solidarity instead with the Palestinians’ wrong-headed policies is self-defeating. As usual, however, the United Nations is all in as the Palestinians’ enabler.
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