Israel’s ambassador condemns ‘shameful’ UN event, calls for boycott
Israel’s UN Ambassador Gilad Erdan lambasts world body for holding Palestinian ‘Nakba’ event that calls the establishment of the Jewish state a ‘disaster.’ (Israel UN Mission.)
JERUSALEM, Israel—The United Nations is embroiled in a new anti-Israel scandal amid allegations that the world body is again distorting history and spreading antisemitism by staging a first-ever official Palestinian commemoration event that attacks the founding day of Israel’s rebirth as a nation.
The UN-sponsored commemoration day for what the Palestinians called the “Nakba” or “catastrophe” on May 15 – the same day as the 75th anniversary of Israel’s modern founding – sparked outrage.
In a letter to U.N. ambassadors, Israel’s Ambassador Gilad Erdan launched a campaign urging his fellow envoys to “not participate in the Palestinian ‘Nakba Day” event in the U.N. General Assembly that presents “the establishment of Israel as a catastrophe.”
Erdan wrote “This event is a blatant attempt to distort history, neglecting the fact that those who paint themselves as the victims were actually the aggressors who initiated a five-front war on the newly established State of Israel.”
Israel Ambassador Gilad Erdan speaks during a press conference at U.N. headquarters on Feb. 20, 2023, in New York City. (Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)
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The Israeli ambassador said, “We have already managed to convince a number of countries to boycott this despicable event and I continue to work to convince more countries not to attend.”
He continued, “Those who attend one-sided hypocritical initiatives, such as the abominable event taking place on May 15, only serve to promote the antisemitic practice of holding the Jewish State to a different standard than any other member state. Not only does this condone Jew-hatred, but it also gives a green-light to the Palestinians to continue exploiting international organs to promote their libelous narrative. Attending one-sided Palestinian initiatives that falsely brand Israel as the source of all evil does not bring the conflict closer to an end, but only serves to enflame tensions.”
In a video shot inside the U.N. General Assembly hall, Erdan called the event “antisemitic,” while noting that “instead of the commemorating the real Nakba – the expulsion of almost a million Jews from Arab countries following the establishment of Israel – this biased organization is distorting its own history.”
He said attending the event means “adopting the Palestinian narrative” while “ignoring Palestinian hate, incitement, terror and refusal to accept the legitimacy of Jewish state.”
Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, appears before the U.N. General Assembly on Sept. 23, 2011, in New York. (Timothy A. Clary/AFP via Getty Images)
When Fox News Digital asked about whether U.S. will participate in the event, the U.S. Mission to the United Nations spokesperson Nate Evans said, “The United States is not attending the U.N.’s Nakba event. The United States supports actions in the U.N. that bring the parties together and lay the groundwork for a negotiated two-state solution and has also been focused on encouraging the parties to take steps to de-escalate tensions and restore mutual confidence. At the same time, the United States has long-standing concerns over anti-Israel bias within the U.N. system, which is also counter-productive to peace. We do not support events organized or in support of the institutional anti-Israel bias.”
Palestinian Ambassador to the United Nations Riyad H. Mansour speaks during a press conference after a Security Council meeting on Feb. 20, 2023, in New York City. (Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)
Evans concluded, “The United States continues to recognize the plight of Palestinian refugees and continues to believe Israelis and Palestinians alike deserve to live in equal measures freedom, security, and prosperity.”
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Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is headlining Monday’s U.N. commemoration.
According to The Associated Press Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian U.N. ambassador, called the observance “historic” and significant because the General Assembly played a key role in the partition of Palestine.
“It’s acknowledging the responsibility of the U.N. of not being able to resolve this catastrophe for the Palestinian people for 75 years,” Mansour told a group of U.N. reporters recently.
He said “the catastrophe to the Palestinian people is still ongoing.” The Palestinians say the Nakba commemorates the estimated 700,000 who, they claim, fled or were forced from their homes.
Mideast experts and historians have documented that many Palestinians left their homes in 1948 and relocated to Arab countries because they followed the direction of Arab leaders and sought to avoid the Arab war against Israel.
Supporters of the Palestinians hold a protest in front of the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C., on May 18, 2021. (Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images)
According to Mitchell Bard, the director of the Jewish Virtual Library, “The Palestinians left their homes in 1947-1949 for a variety of reasons. Thousands of wealthy Arabs left in anticipation of war, thousands more responded to Arab leaders’ call to get out of the way of the advancing armies, a handful were expelled, but most simply fled to avoid being caught in the cross fire of battle.”
Following Israel’s 1948 declaration of Independence based on the U.N. Partition Plan, five Arab armies immediately attacked the tiny Jewish state.
Stéphane Dujarric, a spokesman for the U.N. secretary-general, seemed to distance Antonio Guterres from the event. In a statement to Fox News Digital he said that, “The Nakba Day commemoration is taking place because the member states voted in the General Assembly decided to commemorate the event. It is a decision of the member states, not a decision of the Secretary-General.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, second from right, looks at pictures of Holocaust victims at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem. (Menahem Kahana/AFP via Getty Images)
Dujarric continued, “This event is organized following General Assembly resolution 77/23 of 30 November 2022, which specifically requests the Division for Palestinian Rights to dedicate its activities in 2023 to the commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the Nakba, including by organizing a high-level event at the General Assembly Hall on 15 May 2023.”
He added, “Similarly, we would note that the U.N. has marked that the situation of Jewish refugees was a tragedy of major proportions. The U.N. hosted exhibits on the plight of Jewish refugees in 2023 and 2022.”
“On the issue of antisemitism, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has an unimpeachable record in denouncing it firmly, clearly and without reservations since he came into office. His numerous remarks on the issue attest to it. Furthermore, the U.N. has organized meetings and discussions relating to the effort to combat antisemitism,” he said.
Members of the newly created state of Israel gathered to hear Prime Minister David Ben Gurion read the Jewish “Declaration of Independence” in Tel Aviv on May 14, 1948. (Getty Images.)
Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the associate dean for the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center, told Fox News Digital, “The real Nakba is that the United Nations is allowing itself again to feed the lurid fantasy that the lone Jewish state in the world is illegitimate, despite the fact that the U.N. voted in 1947 to partition the Holy Land into two states one Jewish and one Arab.”
The Wiesenthal Center is a human rights organization that was named after the legendary Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal.
Cooper added, “That vote led by U.S. and the USSR was accepted by the Jews and rejected by the Arab States. They launched all-out war against the fledgling Israel, encouraging local Arabs to flee. Against all odds Israel won and the rest is history.”
Palestinian fighters beside a burned-out Israeli supply truck near Jerusalem,1948. (Pictures from History/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
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He added, “But the rejection of the Jewish state continues fueled by the Palestinian Authority, Hamas and Iran. The real Nakba is that this asymmetrical war never helped a single Palestinian but such gatherings keeps hate not hope alive and turns historic truth and founding U.N. ideals on their head.”
Cooper took the U.N. to task for its anti-Israel activities, declaring, “When you delegitimize the world’s largest Jewish community you legitimize Jew-hatred.”
Fox News Digital sent press queries to the Palestinian mission to the U.N. for comment.
THE Associated Press contributed to this report.
Benjamin Weinthal reports on Israel, Iran, Syria, Turkey and Europe for Fox News Digital. Benjamin has contributed articles to The Wall Street Journal, The Jerusalem Post, Foreign Policy, Haaretz, Forbes and The New York Post. You can follow Benjamin on Twitter @BenWeinthal.