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This week is a special time in Israel and in the global Jewish community. First, we observe Yom Hazikaron, Israel’s day of remembrance of those who have lost their lives while defending the nation-state of the Jewish people and for Israeli victims of terrorism. Then, the following day, we move—seamlessly—from sorrow to joy as we celebrate Israel’s 75th anniversary on Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israel’s independence day. These two holidays—the first, to recognize the sacrifice of those who made possible the second, which celebrates the miraculous rebirth of an independent Jewish state—are of significance to Israelis and to Jews around the world. Meanwhile, at the United Nations, there are efforts to undercut the importance of both days.

Russia—the current rotating president of the Security Council for the month of April—opted to hold the monthly meeting on the “Situation in the Middle East” (in which most countries usually spend their speaking time attacking Israel and asking nothing of the Palestinians) on Yom Hazikaron. Israel’s ambassador to the U.N. had written to the Permanent Russian Mission to the U.N. to request it be moved but was ignored. Worse, this was not just the regular monthly briefing but was elevated to a High-Level meeting to be led by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. In the end, though, the briefing was not well attended at the foreign minister level.

On the staff level, the U.N. continues to undercount Israeli victims of terrorism. During one of B’nai B’rith’s interventions at the Human Rights Council in March we paid tribute to those who had lost their lives up to that point. As we said at the time:

“The victims include Or Eshkar, who died of his injuries last week from an attack in Tel Aviv earlier in March; Elan Ganeles, who was on his way to a wedding; the Yaniv brothers—Hillel and Yagel; Staff Sargent Asil Suaed, a Bedouin Border Police officer killed in the line of duty protecting his country; Alter Shlomo Liderman and the Paley brothers—Ya’akov and Asher (who were only aged 6 and 8); and the seven Jewish lives taken at a synagogue in Jerusalem on Jan. 27, which happens to be International Holocaust Remembrance Day: Eli and Natalie Mizrahi, Rafael Ben-Eliyahu, Asher Natan, Shaul Chai, Irina Korolova and Ilya Sosonsky.

Each name represents a world shattered, a family that can never be made whole again.“

To those 15 names, we must sadly add another four: Lucy Dee and her daughters Maia Dee and Rina Dee, and Alessandro Parini, an Italian tourist murdered while visiting the Promenade in Tel Aviv.[1] Nineteen lives tragically lost to Palestinian terrorism. To add insult to the loss, the U.N. is playing politics with the count of victims. The U.N.’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) keeps a list of victims in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Israeli victims only number 14  on OCHA’s public website (which is delayed in reporting by almost a month, but even so is not the accurate number). OCHA also subcategorizes settlers as a different group, as if this is useful information and perhaps excuses violence against them.

While Israel celebrates 75 years of freedom, innovations and diversity, the U.N. will get mired in the Palestinian narrative of victimhood by hosting a High-Level event at the General Assembly on the so-called Palestinian “Nakba” (or, catastrophe). The event will mourn Israel’s creation and focus on the Arabs who fled because of the fighting (ignoring, of course, the larger number of Jewish refugees from Arab countries who were forced to leave their homes at the same time). Yom Ha’atzmaut is celebrated on the date on the Jewish calendar; the U.N. will mark the occasion instead in May.

B’nai B’rith called for U.N. member states not to vote for the resolution that created the GA event, and the resolution was not strongly supported but did end up passing due to the near-automatic pro-Palestinian majority at the U.N. We now call on member states to refrain from attending this new addition to the list of hateful U.N. High-Level events (such as those within the Durban framework).

As we pause to reflect on those who we have lost and to celebrate all of our progress over 75 years of independence, we need to keep in mind that the battles are not only playing out in the Middle East. The U.N. is always a challenging environment and is proving itself to be no different now. If anything, the attacks are ramping up.

[1] Full list of terror victims since 2000:

Oren Drori is the Program Officer for United Nations Affairs at B’nai B’rith International where he supports advocacy and programming efforts that advance B’nai B’rith’s goals at the U.N., which include: defending Israel, combating anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, and promoting global human rights and humanitarian concerns. He received a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Minnesota in 2004 and an M.A. in International Relations from the University of Chicago in 2006.