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UN Watch Briefing

Analysis and Commentary from UN Watch in Geneva
22 November 2000 — Issue 58

Next Wednesday, on November 29th, the UN will observe its annual International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.

Analysis: The past month has seen a number of UN bodies yet again assign unconditional blame to Israel for the violence in the Middle East. And November 29th celebrations - to be held in UN centers around the world - provide yet another UN-funded forum for airing hostile opinions.

November 29th was chosen for this Day because that is when, in 1947, the UN passed its 'Partition Plan' for two states, one Jewish and the other Arab, in what was then Mandatory Palestine. Recall that the resolution received support from the Jewish population in Palestine, while, with one voice, the Arab world rejected the compromise. Immediately upon Israel's independence, surrounding Arab states attacked with the aim of its destruction. The Palestinians were a second time denied statehood when, after the war, Egypt and Jordan annexed Gaza and the West Bank respectively for themselves.

And what goes on at November 29th ceremonies? After a minute's silence, speakers from the Organization of the Islamic Conference, the Arab League, the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, and the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices, among others, take the floor. A single non-governmental organization, supposedly representing civil society in all its diversity, also speaks. The discourse is predictable.

Not long ago, Secretary-General Kofi Annan appropriately reminded the General Assembly that, "words can inflame or soothe, and everyone needs a restoration of calm and quiet." This advice could not be more pertinent.

If the UN is to be an organization that strives for peace and encourages tolerance, it must also look to quell the causes behind war and intolerance. Scenes in the media of Palestinian children being instructed by adults on how to use rifles pointedly remind us that a great deal of work must still be done to realize these goals. Indeed, the plight of the Palestinian people is in no small measure a product of the lamentable choices of its own leadership. But this view most assuredly will not be heard next week.

The UN expends a great many resources - time, money, publications, and so forth - to make Solidarity Day happen. Given that the Secretary-General's words will likely go unheeded, the Day will do nothing to achieve the world body's stated goals.

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