Palestinians, and their undemocratic UN cohorts, are off to a roaring start for 2014, the UN Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.
Last week UNESCO tore down an exhibit on the Jewish people's ties to the land of Israel, just before it opened to the public, because it offended Arab states. Unfortunately, the move was only the tip of the UN iceberg.
All visitors to UN Headquarters in New York, including school children from across America, walk off the elevator straight into the "Palestine" exhibit.
The UN tour's first stop communicates malignant historical revisionism. According to the display, Palestinians are the new Jews, having suffered an "exodus" in 1948. Total Arab rejection of a Jewish state (contrary to the 1947 UN partition resolution), and repeated efforts to annihilate Israel, are not mentioned. Instead, in 1948 "the first Arab-Israeli war breaks out." Nor is there any apparent reason for the "two wars" of 1967 and 1973.
The only "contravention of international law" is by Israel. The year 1987 began not a murderous campaign against Israeli civilians, but a justifiable "Palestinian uprising." There are triumphant photos of Yasser Arafat, maps pre-dating modern Israel, and lots of photos of miserable-looking Arab children. Not a Jewish victim in sight. And the exhibit announces, there are now 11 million Palestinians worldwide.
The UN propaganda campaign against the legitimacy of Israel has now reached epidemic proportions.
On January 20, 2014 the UN organized its first Solidarity Year event for "civil society." In one of the UN's main galleries, it conducted a public screening of the film "Where should the birds fly?" and sponsored a subsequent discussion with Palestinian filmmaker Fida Qishta and journalist Laila El-Haddad. Here is just some of what the film included:
Mona Samouni (age 11 or 12): "The Israeli soldiers were shooting at the people, as if they were not human, as if they were chickens or mice. For the Israeli army this is something without meaning. But the victims were very precious to us, even though they didn't consider them human."
Fida Qishta: "Even the presence of international observers does not prevent daily random Israeli gunfire. The Israelis seem to be playing a deadly game with Palestinians who are just trying to work and live, taunting them and intimidating them, sometimes killing them."
Fida Qishta: "Israel justified its war on Gaza as retaliation for rockets fired into southern Israel. Hamas said Israel provoked the rockets by breaking the ceasefire agreement. But you can get trapped in all this. Who did what to whom first?...It doesn't matter if they are the relatively simple and ineffective rockets from Gaza into southern Israel or Israel's sophisticated US-made missiles launched from F-16's and Apache helicopters. The real question is the imprisonment of the people of Gaza."
At the end of the film, the child Mona asks that "the Goldstone report" be "reactivated." In fact, the film is marketed by the distributor as the "visual documentation of the Goldstone Report." Indeed, the film mirrored the infamous UN report's slanderous claim which Goldstone subsequently recanted that Israelis "indiscriminately kill and injure" Palestinian civilians. Or as El-Haddad told the UN audience when the film ended, Israel engages in the "systematic targeting of the Palestinian civilian sector."
No questions or comments were permitted from the audience. Completely irrelevant to the UN proceedings were 65 years of rejection of Jewish self-determination, never-ending Arab aggression, and a decade of rocket attacks from Gaza that has put 3.5 million Israelis directly in harm's way. Nor was there any mention of the fact that the attacks from Gaza are launched from amongst a Palestinian civilian population deliberately used by their brethren as human shields.
At the close of the UN afternoon of portraying Israelis as Nazi-like wanton baby killers, the Chairman of the UN working group that organized the affair, Maltese diplomat Bernard Hamilton, asked the crowd to do their utmost to promote the film.
January 20 was actually the second Solidarity Year occasion thus far. The year was launched on January 16, 2014 by no less than the President of the General Assembly, the President of the Security Council, and the Deputy Secretary-General (speaking for Ban Ki-moon.) This spectacle saw the Secretary-General claim that the label "extremists" applied only to Israelis.
A statement read for Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas referred to "the unprecedented historical injustice which the Palestinian people have endured since 'Al-Nakba' [the catastrophe] of 1948." Clarifying once again, that the existence of a Jewish state has always been the real issue. The one UN invited representative of 'civil society,' called for boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel.
Moreover, on launch day, the UN organizing committee welcomed three new non-governmental organizations into the UN family. The newly-accredited NGOs will have the extraordinary benefit of having their websites linked directly to the UN's mammoth web presence. On their sites? Pronouncements that Israel is engaged in apartheid and ethnic cleansing, Zionism is racism, and the end goal is to be "free of Zionism."
At the January inauguration, the UN's Palestinian Rights Committee adopted a 12-page manifesto on its "program of work for 2014." The ambitious platform spells out a global campaign to blanket the airwaves, social media, schools, as well as legislative and judicial forums, with the demonization of the state of Israel.
The unusual UNESCO exhibit was suppressed for the same reason that Palestinian hate speech at the UN is promoted. The propagation of antisemitism is the UN's normal.
Anne Bayefsky is the director of the Touro Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust.