November 29: The Day the UN Stands With the Palestinians and Demonizes Israel
On November 29, the United Nations will mark an “International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.” Established in 1977, the day claims to facilitate “the attainment of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, including the right of return and the right to national independence and sovereignty in Palestine.”
It is essential to understand the history of this day in order to understand its true purpose. The day is an outgrowth of the UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (CEIRPP), established 40 years ago in November 1975, as part of the suite of General Assembly resolutions meant to demonize Israel and Jews.
The most infamous part of this effort, Resolution 3379, declared “Zionism a form of racism.” While resolution 3379 was eventually repealed in 1991, its sentiments live on through the very existence of the Committee and its activities. There is no other nation or people in the world that has a UN division dedicated to its “inalienable rights” — not the oppressed people of Tibet, the Kurds, the endangered Yazidi people in Iraq, or the Coptic minority in Egypt.
Under the guise of obtaining justice for the Palestinians, the Committee fuels the virulent anti-Israel political warfare campaign that continues to gain momentum within the corridors of the UN and contribute to the malignant rise of antisemitism worldwide. In other words, in order to promote the “inalienable rights” of Palestinians, the UN tramples on the rights of Israelis and Jews, acting in a way that shows that rights are no longer universal.
There is also ironic meaning to the date chosen to mark international solidarity with the Palestinian people. November 29 is the historic date upon which the UN adopted the Partition Plan in 1947, which paved the way for a Jewish state, and should have resulted in a parallel Arab state. Instead, the Arab population in Mandate Palestine rejected partition and, together with the neighboring Arab countries, went to war to prevent the establishment of a Jewish state.
If anything, November 29 should serve as a reminder that Palestinians had the “right to national independence” in their grasp, and that a two-state “partition” could have provided a way forward. Instead, the International Day of Solidarity embraces a supposed Palestinian “inalienable right to return to their homes and property,” endorsing a concept that contradicts the essence of the 1947 UN vote and which would geographically, politically, and otherwise mean the elimination of the Jewish and democratic State of Israel.
There is no other UN subsidiary committee or UN day of solidarity specifically designated to advance the political cause of one people over another. This committee is yet more proof such double standards against Israel persist and are sanctioned by an official UN event in New York.
The Day is also a catalyst for highly politicized non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to amplify their support for anti-Israel BDS (boycotts, divestments, and sanctions) movement and other hostile campaigns. Many of these NGOs, which receive extensive funding from European governments, also regularly exploit UN forums and judicial processes to accuse Israel of “war crimes,” “crimes against humanity,” and other alleged violations of international law.
For example, in 2013, Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), which prides itself on seeking to create “a wedge” within the American Jewish community over support for Israel, marked the occasion by escalating efforts to boycott Israeli company SodaStream. Similarly, Palestinian NGO Al Mezan co-signed a letter accusing Israel of “war crimes” and “crimes against humanity,” while calling on “UN member states to vote in favor of any resolution that would recognize Palestinian statehood.” Al Mezan is funded, directly and indirectly, by Sweden, Switzerland, Denmark, Netherlands, the European Union, Norway, Germany, the UN Development Programme, and the UN Central Emergency Response Fund.
In 2012, a dozens of NGOs including Al Mezan, Al-Haq, Badil, Defence for Children International-Palestine — all of which are heavily funded by European donors — participated in a World Social Forum entitled “Free Palestine” held in Brazil. The four-day forum, which overlapped with November 29, included panels on “the right to return,” “international law and human rights,” “popular resistance,” and “the case of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.” Tellingly, the conference did not center on obtaining Palestinian statehood, but rather lamented the “narrowing of the Palestinian struggle to the West Bank only.”
While November 29 recalls the implications of UN resolutions from 40 and 70 years ago, we should also bear in mind another momentous event from the Fall of 1945. On October 24, the UN was founded at Lake Success, New York, to “reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights.” As the UN and NGOs prepare to stand in solidarity with the Palestinians by demonizing Israel and denying the Jewish people the right to self-determination, they and their donors should consider the extent to which they contribute to the exploitation of sacred and universal principles.
Anne Herzberg is legal advisor at NGO Monitor.
Rachel Hirschfeld is UN Desk Coordinator and Researcher at NGO Monitor.