The United Nations hosted its annual Israeli-Palestinian peace conference in Paris last week, a three-day event featuring a series of meetings that raised ire from the Jewish community.
The meetings included representatives from several pro-Palestinian committees, UN groups and Zionist activists looking to preemptively stave off falsehoods against Israel. Dr. Shimon Samuels, international relations director at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, called the first seminar of the conference “a litany of assault against the Jewish people”.
Samuels was on hand to observe the May 30 gathering, a meeting titled “The Role of Youth and Women in the Peaceful Resolution in the Question of Palestine.” The event was hosted by the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People. CEIRPP is a group the Anti-Defamation League labeled the “single most prolific source...of the UN which maligns and debases the Jewish state.” Participants of the committee include Syria, Cuba, Libya, Lebanon, Pakistan, Yemen and Afghanistan.
Dr. Samuels likened the gathering to 2001’s World Conference Against Racism in Durban, which is often cited as one of the most anti-Israel conferences hosted by the UN to date. He also pointed out certain lines of anti-Semitic language used during the meetings, like the Organization for Islamic Cooperation’s stance that Israel is working toward “the Judaization of Palestinian holy sites,” calling Israeli policy “profane.”
At the conclusion of the conference, Samuels wrote a personal letter to UN General Secretary Ban Ki-Moon, naming CEIRPP “a threat to world peace” and calling on the secretary general to publically denounce the event.
“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) of Israel,” Samuels said. “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?’”
In October 2011, the UN agency UNESCO voted to admit Palestine as a member nation, despite the fact that the UN, Israel and many western countries have not recognized it as an independent state. The US promptly stopped its UNESCO funding at that time. At the UN conference last week, several representatives made note of Palestine’s new involvement with UNESCO.
“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,” Samuels said. “[CEIRPP] Chairman…Abdou Salam Diallo phrased the challenge more succinctly: ‘One drop of water on a rock does nothing, continual dripping destroys the rock.’ This recalls the more notorious statement of Ayatollah Khomeini: ‘If every follower would drop one spoon of water on Israel, it would drown in the torrent.’”
In closing, Samuels brought up the common assertion that a fixed obsession with criticizing Israel might be a veiled strategy for anti-Semites.
“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 targeting Israel, also devote equal time to condemning the terrorism of Hamas and Hezbollah, 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?” he asked. “If the answer is negative, their obsessive-compulsive fixation with Israel exposes their vested interest in the perpetuation of the conflict.”