UN Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, November 30, 2009

On November 30, 2009 the United Nations held its annual Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. This was the 61st anniversary of the UN General Assembly resolution which partitioned Palestine into a Jewish and an Arab state - a resolution rejected across the Arab world. At UN Headquarters the day was marked by speeches from UN leaders in a room adorned with just two flags, the UN flag and a Palestinian flag. The flag of the UN member state of Israel was nowhere to be seen.

The Setting

In the photo below, on the left is a flag of "Palestine" and on the right is the flag of the United Nations. There is no flag of the UN member state of Israel.

Speakers included: Riyad Mansour, Palestinian Observer to the UN, Thomas Mayr-Harting, President of the Security Council; Ali Abdussalam Treki, President of the General Assembly; Paul Badji, Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People; Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations; Palitha Kohona, Chairman of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories. Trusteeship Council Chamber, UN Headquarters, New York

Not one speaker objected to the omission of an Israeli flag.

Prominently displayed in the UN meeting room (on the left-hand side of the photo) were a series of panels containing a fictional account of Middle East history.

  • The display: "Palestine...for centuries the home of the Palestinian people, is located on the west bank of the Jordan River in the Middle East."
    No mention was made of Palestine having been the home of the Jewish people for thousands of years or of the Jewish people belonging on the west bank of the Jordan River.
  • The display: "The hostilities that accompanied the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 gave rise to...Palestinian refugees."
    No mention was made of the origins of those "hostilities," the Arab rejection of the UN partition plan, or the war Arab states launched to annihilate the fledgling Jewish state. In fact, no mention is made of terrorism at all, Palestinian violence painted instead as a justifiable "uprising."
  • The display claimed there are more than 8 million Palestinians worldwide and 4.5 million living as "registered refugees" now "awaiting" their "right to...return to their homes and property."
    In other words, the UN narrative advocates the abolition of a Jewish state, since Israeli Jews who currently number 5.5 million as compared to 1.5 million Arabs would immediately be outnumbered should this so-called right of return ever be implemented.

With the backdrop of a missing Israeli flag and a display calling for the end of a Jewish state, the UN organizers (the UN's Committee on the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People) invited selected speakers to address the audience. The contributions were translated into six languages and broadcast around the world on the UN's internet webcasting service.

The Speeches

Grotesque examples of antisemitism characterized the proceedings.

A message containing an infamous blood libel came from Colonel Muammar Al-Qadhafi, President of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, in his capacity as Chairman of the African Union. His message was delivered by Libyan UN Ambassador Abdurrahman Mohamed Shalgham:

    We express our solidarity...with those who are killed so that their organs can be sold, as confirmed by a Swedish journalist who wrote that such practices are taking place.

The "keynote" presentation was delivered by Walid Khalidi, General Secretary of the Institute of Palestine Studies. His speech included the following:

  • The classic antisemitic slur of comparing Israelis to Nazis. "The unity that currently exists in Jerusalem is the unity of an Anschluss" (the annexation of Austria by the Nazis in 1938). "The Zionist leadership "accepted" partition, but this acceptance was only verbal. At the same time they prepared a master plan...for the military conquest of the country
  • A rejection of the historical or political legitimacy of the UN member state of Israel: "...political Zionism...aimed at the establishment, through massive...colonization, of a Jewish state in a country, Palestine, 95% of whose population was then Arab..." "The Arabs rejected the UN partition resolution in 1947...because it dismembered Palestine."
  • Israelis are racists: "Israel's drive...in...Jerusalem [is] seen by Islam as the latest phase in a historical conflict and a latter-day Western crusade by proxy...the deep messianism embedded in Zionism...stirring the hopes of Christian millenarians while confirming the worst fears of Muslims." "...a long cherished Zionist dream of an Arab-free Jerusalem."
  • Jews control Congress: "...three deeply disturbing phenomena stand out in American decision-making on the Middle East. First the increasingly influential role of the Congress...Legislatures are too tuned to parochial priorities to conduct the foreign policies of global powers."

There was only one invited NGO representative - billed as "speaking on behalf of civil society." The speech by Bill Fletcher, Member of the Steering Committee of the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, included the following:

  • Israelis are racists: "I sit before you today to discuss a contemporary apartheid: that practiced by the state of Israel against the Palestinian people." "The United Nations...must not fail to take up the struggle against Israeli apartheid today." "The racial-settler state of Israel..." He made no mention of the fact that 20% of the Israeli population is Arab, that there are Arab members in the Israeli Parliament and judges on Israeli courts, with more democratic rights than in any Arab country, and that a single Jew living on Palestinian-claimed land is labeled the abomination of a "settler" in what is obviously apartheid Palestine.
  • An attack on Judaism: "...the Israeli state wrap[s] its actions in religious garments, [and] claim[s] a God-given Judaic exclusive right for its actions..."
  • Analogies to the Holocaust: "...none of the reality of the Holocaust suffered by European Jews excuses what has happened to the Palestinian people..." "[W]e can at one and the same time understand...the Jewish victims of the Nazi's Holocaust, while at the same time reject the Israeli ...victimization of the Palestinian people." "...the ethnic cleansing that was taking place in Palestine at the hands of individuals who claimed that they did not want the world to forget what had happened to Jews."
  • Holocaust revisionism: "The horrors of the Holocaust...were not unprecedented, but found their basis in the brutal holocausts committed against the peoples of the global South by the colonial powers and the settler states."
  • The illegitimacy of the Jewish state: "The Israeli system of apartheid - ...The Israeli law of return allows any officially recognized Jewish person, from anywhere in the world, regardless of whether that person has any actual tie to the state of Israel, to arrive in the country and receive immediate citizenship." "[T]he terrorists...later gained international legitimacy when the Israeli state was recognized and many of these same terrorists achieved positions in the military and in government." " ...atrocity committed by Zionist terrorists"
  • Calls for international isolation of Israel: "the governments represented in these halls [are] called upon to take action...through...boycotts, divestments and sanctions...on the Occupying Power."

The Published Messages of Support

The 60-plus year rejection of the Jewish state by Arab and Muslim countries and their UN-based campaign to destroy Israel - given full vent on Palestinian Solidarity Day - also took other forms. The UN published "Text of Messages Received on the Occasion of the International Day of Solidarity With The Palestinian People." They included:

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran

    The innocent people of Palestine have been deprived of....life in their ancestral territory, for more than six decades....During these years, the Palestinian people have been the victims of...inhuman and barbaric attacks...by the usurper Zionist regime...The Zionist regime's ongoing policy of targeting the cultural identity of the Palestinian people and all monotheists of the world...

Abdelaziz Bouteflika, President of Algeria

    As we commemorate this occasion today, the holy city of Jerusalem....is being subjected to an ugly and vicious campaign aimed at Judaizing it....

General Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, President of Mauritania

    The leadership and people of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania stand shoulder to shoulder with the Palestinian people...to end the occupation and oppression that have been inflicted on it for more than 60 years.

Fawzi Salloukh, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Emigrants of Lebanon

    On the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People we look back at painful episodes in the history of the Palestinian people and the Arab world. We remember the Nakba, which has continued for over 61 years...

The Film Screening

Following the three hours of hate speech, the UN then used its Trusteeship Council to screen publicly a one hour film on Jerusalem ("Jerusalem - The East Side Story"). The film featured Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas accusing Israelis of "ethnic cleansing." The film's messages included the following:

  • Israel is illegitimate. Its birth consisted of an influx foreigners without any connection to the land, who were foisted on an indigenous Arab population and imposed on what was in its entirety "their country." All of what is on "the Israeli side of the green line" is "captured" land.
  • Historical revisionism, including a total denial of the Arab rejection of Israel and the Arab war of annihilation launched as soon as Israel was created. In the film's words: "On the 14th of May 1948 the Jewish state was declared. Soon after war broke out between Israel and its neighboring Arab countries. The Arabs lost the war."
  • Palestinian violence is legitimate. "This is what is creating anger....the basics of life...is being violated....the whole family will be an angry family and once there is anger you don't know how to control any political outcome." "den[ying] Palestinians of the right to live in their own homes will not put anyone on the path to peace."
  • Israelis are racists. Asks a Palestinian man at a checkpoint: "do you want me to change my religion so I can pass?" Israel is inflicting on Palestinians, the film claims, "a racist policy." " Palestinian demographic growth...Israeli politicians openly describe as a ....growth cancer."
  • Israelis are like Nazis and the Palestinians are the equivalent of their victims. With the creation of Israel in 1948, says the narrator: "a long and painful chapter in the history of the Jewish people was just about to be closed. A long and painful chapter in the history of the Palestinian people was just about to begin."
  • The goal is the end of a Jewish state brought about by a Palestinian "right of return". The film tells the story of an Arab woman whose family voluntarily left its home in Jerusalem and her claim "I deserve to go back and live in our house." She admits that her father told her mother at the time, "don't take too much luggage. You'll be back in two weeks." After all, the whole of the Arab world fully expected they would successfully and quickly annihilate the Jewish state and its people.

The Exhibit in the UN Public Entrance

UN Palestinian Solidarity Day also featured an exhibit in the public entrance of the UN - easy viewing for all the thousands of school children and tourists that visit the UN. In the opening ceremony Palestinian UN representative Mansour took the opportunity to praise the "excellent words of Walid Khalidi" - referring to the inflammatory racist speech delivered earlier in the day.

The exhibit "was made possible owing to a financial contribution from the Government of Luxembourg" - whose UN Ambassador Sylvie Lucas opened the exhibit. It was described as "presented by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees" (UNRWA) and composed of photos taken by "UNRWA photographers."

UNRWA decided to convey Palestinian suffering gratuitously imposed at the hands of Israelis.

For instance, there was photo after photo of Israel's security barrier as an inhuman monolith with no context supplied and no reason given for its existence. There was a photo of a miserable-looking "refugee girl" again with no context. And there was a photo of "Palestinians queue to cross an Israeli checkpoint" set up to look like they are imprisoned rather than walking through an open-air line up, with no reason given for the checkpoint.

The UN General Assembly Debate: November 30 - December 2, 2009

When the UN Committee on the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People was finished with its meeting, Solidarity Day moved to the General Assembly and the debate on its agenda item "The Question of Palestine." For another two and half days this is what passed for acceptable international discourse in the primary policy-making body of the global organization founded on the ashes of the Jewish people, and supposedly dedicated to "the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small":

  • There were repeated rejections of the UN member state of Israel's right to exist - none of which were ruled out of order. The Libyan representative (whose ambassador occupies the presidency of the General Assembly) said "attempts to achieve the two state solution have reached a dead-end," are "unrealistic" and urged UN members to implement the "one state" solution - thereby eliminating the existing Jewish state. The United Arab Emirates said there had been "61 years of the suffering, misery and deprivation of the Palestinian people which started in 1948 with the Israeli occupation of their land."
  • More blood libel: In laying the blame for the Arab-Israeli conflict solely on Israel, Pakistan called upon Israelis "not to falter" if they were to be saved "from the tragedies and tribulations of their ill-fated heritage and senseless, blood-soaked history." Syria said "Israel has left behind much more than dead and injured Palestinians in the bleeding Strip of Gaza. Israeli jets, tanks and battleships could see only one target on their radar screens: civilians. And yet they fired."
  • The Israelis-are-like-Nazis imagery: Algeria spoke of Israel's "designs" against the "defenseless Palestinian people." Palestinian Mansour said "Goldstone clearly confirmed that Israel...has committed...crimes against humanity against the Palestinian people." Quoting President Hugo Chavez's remarks on November 27, 2009, the Venezuelan Ambassador said: ""We have always been on the side of the Palestinian people and their memorable fight against the U.S. empire, their lackeys, and the genocidal state of Israel which runs over, kills and attempts to exterminate the Palestinian people."
  • The days were marked by a host of other inflammatory accusations: Lebanon Ambassador (Nawaf Salam): "premeditated killing of civilians", "barbarous acts" Cuba (Nunez Mosquera); "utter disdain for humanity" (Pakistan); "massacres" (Nicaragua); "genocide" (Syria).

The UN General Assembly Resolutions - December 2, 2009

The Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People transmitted four draft resolutions the General Assembly (under the agenda item "The Question of Palestine.") The drafts were all adopted by the General Assembly on December 2, 2009.