"These three days at UNESCO in Paris were redolent of the antisemitic hatefest at the 2001 UN World Conference against Racism in Durban."
Paris, 1st June 2012
In a letter to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre's Director for International Relations, Dr.Shimon Samuels, expressed "intense disgust at the three-day United Nations International Meeting on the Question of Palestine that concluded today at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, subtitled 'The Role of Youth and Women in the Peaceful Resolution of the Question of Palestine'" continuing, "At the opening, I was heartened by your video-message encouraging 'Palestinian and Israeli youth to build a future of peace' and urging 'greater involvement of women in the peace process'".
"Nevertheless,you were betrayed by succeeding speakers in a litany of assault against the Jewish state, redolent of the 2001 UN World Conference against Racism in Durban, that degenerated into an antisemitic hatefest.
We heard tributes to the 'Intifada' and 'the martyrs', calls for a 'Third Intifada mobilized electronically in the Facebook image of the Arab Spring', and appeals for global 'BDS' (boycott, divestment and sanctions) against Israel".
"What are the lessons of the BDS movement in France for us in America?", asked Phyllis Bennis of the US campaign to End the Israeli Occupation. She continued, 'we are here to discuss other campaigns, not only about youth and women'".
The letter asked, "what was the real value of this, generously funded meeting for Palestinian youth and women's rights, but which covered up a propaganda exercise?".
Palestine Authority Women's Affairs Minister, Rabiha Diab, in responding to young Israeli members of the peace camp, forgot herself, screeching: "we are at war with Israel. They get American money for everything, they get Nobel prizes and where do we stand?".
Samuels noted that :
" - there were, indeed, constant reports of Israeli sexual harassment and violence against Palestinian women, their murder and torture of children. The Women's Minister emphasized that "we are working against all violence against women, but Israeli violence is the worst".
- Bennis had other fish to fry, feeding a mood of anti-Americanism: "the worst is the US funding of Israeli apartheid. We are here to learn of campaigns to stop arms agreements with Israel, as we do in the US".
- even the Geneva Director of UNWRA(UN Works and Relief Agency for Palestine Refugees) strayed from his refugee remit, by offering "to develop a strategy for Palestinian journalists to better get their story across".
The letter highlighted the strange comment from Louise Haxthausen, who was apparently returned last November to Paris headquarters from serving as Director of the UNESCO Ramallah office. This followed the Wiesenthal Centre's exposure of a Palestinian youth magazine that glorified Adolf Hitler, sponsored and financed by UNESCO under her watch.
Samuels explained that,"now Programme Coordinator of Conflict and Post-Conflict Operations, she was asked by the Palestine Refugee Return Centre. "What will be done about the plundering of Palestinian heritage presented on tourism posters as Israeli heritage? Palestinian dishes presented as Israeli?".
Ms.Haxthausen responded: "The fact that Palestine is now a state-party to UNESCO and is joining its conventions in the field of culture will mean more cooperation, as in the World Heritage Committee this summer, for the first Palestinian file to make Bethlehem a World Heritage site".
The letter suggested that:-
- there was a micro second of relative light as the Sri Lanka delegate to UNESCO - who was also billed as Chair of the UN Committee on Palestinian Human Rights - gently suggested that 'the success of a struggle is not only its ethical structure but also its ethical method. The youth should not combat civilians, except for settlers. It is not useful to kill Israeli non-combattants'. Even this was dashed by the Women's Minister, who chided him for disproportion and ignorance of Palestine. There was a chorus of comments,including the claim that there were no non-combatants in Israel as women served in the army and youth in para-military movements.
- the Organization for Islamic Cooperation(OIC) took the language to a lower depth, dwelling on "the Judaization of Palestinian holy sites which are profaned."
- one speaker after another congratulated UNESCO for its bravery in seating Palestine, thanking the Director-General for her support. It was the Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations, Riyad Mansour, who put it clearest: "Palestine is now a full member of UNESCO. Here we can recharge our batteries to fight harder".
- Chairman of the UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People(CEIRPP), Abdou Salam Diallo, phrased the challenge more succintly: " One drop of water on a rock does nothing, continual dripping destroys the rock".
Samuels recalled here echoes of a more notorious statement of Ayatollah Khomeiny: 'If every follower would drop one spoon of water on Israel, it would drown in the torrent'", adding "these three days were a torrent of incitement to hate against a sovereign member of the United Nations".
He argued that "the Paris meeting begs a question intrinsic to the United Nations: Among the member-states of the organizing committee, among the UN officials involved, among the invited speakers and NGO's, are there those who - apart from targetting Israel-also devote equal time to condemning the terrorism of Hamas and Hizbollah, the violation of women and homophobia across the region, the massacres in Syria, the nuclear designs of Iran or the Turkish occupation of parts of Cyprus and Kurdistan?".
Samuels stressed that "if the answer is negative, their obsessive-compulsive fixation upon Israel exposes their vested interest in the perpetuation of the conflict".
The clear conclusion would indicate that "the United Nations Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (CEIRPP)- in empowering these peace rejectionists - is ipso facto a threat to world peace and should be disbanded".
The Centre called on the UN Secretary-General "to condemn the Paris meeting and to launch an investigation into the CEIRPP's activities in violation of the UN Charter".