UN Watch calls on UN and European leaders to convert propaganda budget into “ploughshares of hope”
Geneva, Aug. 30, 2007 — A conference organized today and tomorrow at the European Parliament in Brussels by a UN Palestinian committee contravenes the principles of the Quarter-sponsored Middle East peace process, said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, a Geneva-based monitoring organization.
The objective of the conference, according to its sponsor, the UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, is to support Israeli-Palestinian peace. Yet the conference program and list of speakers reveals a one-sided focus on blaming and coercing Israel, said Neuer, and contravenes the balanced principles of the Road Map framework in which Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas are now negotiating.
“The conference is a wolf in sheep’s clothing,” said Neuer. “The UN Palestinian division portrays its event as building bridges, but they excluded anyone representing Israel’s position, so these are bridges to nowhere.”
Palestinian presenters include activists like Raji Sourani, who justifies Hamas attacks as “resistance,” and Jamal Juma, who describes Israel as a “colonial racist apartheid state.” Also speaking at the conference will be Leila Shahid, Palestinian envoy to the EU and cousin to late PLO leader Yassir Arafat, along with several other Palestinian officials. Other presenters from the Middle East and Europe either head or are closely tied to pro-Palestinian lobby groups, and campaign for boycotts and sanctions against Israel.
The conference also invited a handful of selected Israeli presenters who are ardent advocates for Palestinian claims, such as Michel Warschawski, self-described as a “well-known anti-Zionist activist.” According to Neuer, “by citizenship they may be Israeli, but only a scoundrel or a fool would imagine these token Israelis as representatives of their nation’s point of view. The organizers deliberately excluded anyone who genuinely represents Israeli society, or who might dare to speak for Israeli human rights, for Israeli women maimed by Hamas rockets, Israeli children traumatized by bus bombings, Israeli forests and eco-systems burnt and destroyed by Hezbollah rockets supplied by Iran and Syria. All of this is completely erased from the conference narrative.”
The UN’s Palestinian division is funded by a multi-million dollar budget, part of a sprawling infrastructure of anti-Israel committees and programs launched by the General Assembly in 1975 alongside its resolution declaring that “Zionism is racism.” In the past six months, the division organized gatherings in Doha, Rome, Pretoria, and New York.
UN chief Ban Ki-moon and leaders of the EU and the European Parliament must commit themselves to the goal of redirecting the division’s budget to actually helping Palestinians, said Neuer, by building medical clinics and schools that teach peace in the West Bank and Gaza.
“Instead of taxpayers from Europe and the U.S. paying for more destructive propaganda, these funds should be converted into ploughshares of hope. Tragically, the Arab regimes responsible for the Palestinian division’s annual renewal seem more interested in preserving grievances than solving them. It is time for European and UN leaders to emphasize that anti-Israel propaganda and posturing are relics of the past — and hurt the cause of peace rather than help the Palestinians.”
PAST STATEMENTS BY PRESENTERS AT BRUSSELS CONFERENCE
Below are a selection of statements by (1) Raji Sourani and (2) Jamal Jumma, presenters to the U.N.’s Brussels conference of Aug. 30-31, 2007.
- Statements by Raji Sourani
Raji Sourani justifying the Hamas attack of 25 June 2006, when its gunmen tunneled from Gaza across the international boundary into Israel proper, killed two Israeli servicemen, wounded three, and kidnapped Corporal Gilad Shalit:
“Resistance operations are not only a right, but also an obligation for any people who want to be free of occupation and secure self- determination,” he said.
The Irish Times, July 5, 2006.
Lawyer Raji Sourani … said Cpl Gilad Shalit was captured inside the Gaza Strip on June 25th “by Palestinian resistance people in uniform“.
Irish Times, Sept. 15, 2006.
Raji Sourani justifying Palestinian rocket attacks against Israeli civilians:
Raji Sourani, a Gazan lawyer who founded and directs the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, is running out of patience. ”What is happening here is resistance to the occupation,” he said.
- Erlanger,“With Israeli Use of Force, Debate Over Proportion,”The New York Times, July 19, 2006.
Raji Sourani suggesting that suicide bombers do not bear responsibility for their crimes but rather Israel:
“They [Israelis] are pushing everyone to be suicide bombers,” said Raji Sourani, director of the Palestinian Center for Human Rights.
The New York Times, December 10, 2000,
Raji Sourani predicting — or threatening — Palestinian violence:
And Raji Sourani, head of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, warns that Israel should take account of what he calls the locals’ “camel” psychology.
Mindful of a UN estimate that about 9000 Israeli artillery shells have been lobbed into Gaza in the last year, he explains: “You can make the camel so thirsty and hungry and you can make it carry too great a load, you can beat it and insult it, but watch out when the animal revolts – it will kill you.”
Sydney Morning Herald, September 2, 2006.
Raji Sourani describing Hamas’ failure to respond with suicide attacks as “setback” for the group, which “affected their street credibility”:
The death of Adel Awadallah – who topped Israel’s most-wanted list – and his brother Imad has stung Hamas. It vowed to shake Israel “like an earthquake” in revenge, but so far there has been little sign of that. “This is a real setback for Hamas, that they didn’t react,” says Sourani. “It affected their street credibility.”
Christian Science Monitor, May 17, 1999.
Raji Sourani siding with Hamas against President Abbas, and whitewashing Hamas attacks on journalists as “mistakes”, even as he condemns them:
Down in Gaza, Hamas has its own problems. Only a few hundred of the 17,000 police are showing up for work, under orders from the government in the West Bank, which pays their salaries. Hamas militiamen are filling the gaps, and there have been cases of torture of Fatah men and attacks on journalists. Raji Sourani, a respected human-rights lawyer, condemns such attacks but says the Hamas leadership seems keen to avoid such “mistakes” and pins much of the blame on Mr Abbas. “How can you tell these people not to turn up for work? They are destroying an existing civil system.”
The Economist, July 21, 2007.
Raji Sourani praises Iran’s support for Palestinians two months after Ahmadinejad calls for “elimination of Zionist regime”:
Raji Sourani, Gaza’s foremost human rights lawyer and the founder and director of the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, has praised the Islamic Republic of Iran’s support to the rights of the Palestinian people. “We will not give up and we will continue with our struggle. Resisting the occupation is not only the right but its also obligation for the free people,” Sourani told IRNA in Brussels Thursday. He was responding to IRNA’s question on his message to the international community on the occasion of the World Qods Day to be held on Friday.
See “Leading Palestinian human rights activist: We will continue our struggle”
IRNA, October 19, 2006.
Praising Iran’s “solidarity,” and its “real good example”:
“Iran is setting a real good example and good solidarity with the Palestinian people as it has shown all the way long in supporting the Palestinian rights,” said Sourani. Sournai who is also the vice-president of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) is currently in Brussels to present a report to the EU on the recent mission of FIDH to occupied Palestinian territories. “We, the Palestinian people are defending a just and right cause. We are strong and we are much more stronger with the support of the people for the rights of the Palestinian people for getting rid of this Israeli criminal and belligerent occupation,” said Sournai.
- Statements By Jamal Jumaa
“Israel is a colonial racist apartheid state.”
— Jamal Jumaa quoted in R. Fulford, “Finding Israel guilty by analogy: At this stage the boycotters are fighting a war of language,” National Post (Canada), Oct. 14, 2006.
Jamal Jumaa opposing pacific methods in favor of “resistance”:
“As history illustrates repeatedly, attempted pacification of resistance to Occupation will always be thwarted by a people’s unrelenting will for self-determination.”
Jamal Jumaa expressing concern that resort to law might replace “resistance”:
Jamal Juma, a co-ordinator of protests, suggested that the judgement might “absorb resistance” by allowing people to think that resorting to the law was more successful than it really was.
Jamal Jumaa advocating “resistance” (and his intent made clear by article’s use of same word to describe Hezbollah, whose methods include suicide bombings and other forms of terrorism):
“Palestinian determination knows that only continuous resistance is the way forward, reconfirmed with every passing day as the international community refuses to move, and with every missile that hits our homes, schools, and streets.”
See Jamal Juma, “Israel: Cornerstone of the ‘New Middle East’ — Palestine: Cornerstone of Resistance,” (http://www.leftturn.org/?q=node/58)
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