As reported exclusively by Breitbart, the Touro Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust was denied access to the UN’s General Assembly hall during the vote slated to grant Palestine non-member observer state status. On Wednesday, the UN Division for Palestinian Rights sent a letter to the UN pass office, insisting that the UN-accredited Jewish group be denied access to the morning meeting. The passes had already been printed and issued, but UN security officials insisted upon their return, capitulating to the Palestinian branch’s demand. Twenty-three Jewish young adults, who were part of an educational program associated with the Taglit-Birthright Israel alumni community, were affected.
The group had requested the passes for November 29, 2012 to attend separate events: the “UN Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People” in the morning and, the General Assembly debate on “The Question of Palestine” which began at 3 p.m. in the afternoon. Solidarity Day commemorates the anniversary of the UN General Assembly vote of November 29, 1947 that partitioned Palestine into a Jewish and an Arab state. It was billed as “an opportunity for the international community to focus its attention on the fact that the question of Palestine is still unresolved and that the Palestinian people is yet to attain their inalienable rights as defined by the General Assembly, namely, the right to self-determination without external interference, the right to national independence and sovereignty, and the right to return to their homes and property from which they had been displaced.” It further notes that “NGOs are invited to attend and a representative of the international community of NGOs (non-Governmental organizations) accredited to the Committee addresses the meeting.”
Make that some NGOs. The Taglit-Birthright Israel alumni completed individual registration forms and submitted them to the host of Solidarity Day, namely, the Division for Palestinian Rights, which is part of the UN Department of Political Affairs. The Division sent out letters of acceptance confirming their participation, signed by Mabel Chan. Yet in a follow-up email dated November 28, Ms. Chan informed the group that “our capacities have been filled and we are not able to issue a badge to you.”
There was additional subterfuge involved as well. The UN general pass and NGO offices informed the UN Division for Palestinian Rights (DPR) of a formal request by the Touro Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust to facilitate their visit both to Solidarity Day and the General Assembly. DPR officials claiming the group had “bypassed” the Division registration process orchestrated a campaign to exclude them. UN officials obliged, despite the reality of the aforementioned acceptance letters sent by the DPR itself. They then attempted to claim the NGO “is not accredited to the Palestinian Rights Committee and has not received an invitation to attend the morning meeting,”–again, contradicting the UN’s open invitation mentioned above.
The real reason for denying the Jewish group access finally came to light when the DPR thought the letter linked to in the opening paragraph of this piece would only be seen by UN staff in the NGO and pass office. In it they contended the Jewish group had been “disruptive and negative in the past.”
Breitbart reveals the focus of the supposed “disruption” and “negativity” is likely Touro Institute Director, Anne Bayefsky. Bayefsky is a no-nonsense supporter of Israel who is also affiliated with UN Watch, a Geneva-based organization devoted to exposing unfair bias against Israel at the United Nations. She is on the record referring to the UN’s “depravity and deceit in combating terrorism.” In 2005, her Solidarity Day reporting revealed that the UN Headquarters had countenanced the display of a Middle East map omitting the state of Israel. As a result, the Division and its Palestinian Committee were no longer able to make the map a regular part of the Day’s festivities.
Another big hint as to why the Jewish group was denied access to the morning session is revealed by its list of speakers. Leaving aside members of the UN governing bodies, such as the President of the General Assembly, Secretary General of the UN, and President of the Security Council, the roster is composed of anti-Israel types whose titles give them away: Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People; Chairman of the Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories; and Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations.
Yet the denial of access to the Solidarity Day proceeding was only a first step. It was followed up by the DPR insisting that the UN pass and NGO offices also refuse passes for the group’s invitees to attend the General Assembly itself, despite the reality that the DPR has no jurisdiction at all regarding such invitations. Here too the UN complied, even as they took this obvious boycott of Jewish and pro-Israel groups one step further: for the afternoon session of the General Assembly, UN secretariat Wolfgang Grieger contended that whether or not the Jewish group got access would be decided by the President of the General Assembly. The Palestinian contingency–who would get 100 seats requested by Greiger himself–could get their passes “directly from security.”
The reason for such a blatant double-standard is obvious. An overwhelmingly pro-Palestinian UN, that voted 138 to 4 with 9 abstentions in favor of Palestinian observer status, didn’t want anyone to spoil the party. Thus, it was no surprise that when Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas called upon the Assembly to rectify “the unprecedented historical injustice inflicted on the Palestinian people since Al-Nakba of 1948,” and to ”issue a birth certificate of the reality of the State of Palestine,” he received a standing ovation. Breitbart’s Joel B. Pollak revealed the irony of the Touro Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust being “dis-invited” to both Solidarity Day and the Assembly vote: “Today, for the first time, the United Nations will name Palestine a (non-member) ‘observer state’ by first engaging in exactly the charge that they press against Israel: apartheid.”
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