(Washington, D.C., May 15, 2023)—B’nai B’rith President Seth J. Riklin and CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin have issued the following statement:
B’nai B’rith strongly condemns the holding of a “high-level event” at the United Nations to mark the “Nakba” (or “catastrophe” in Arabic), Palestinians’ term for the creation of the State of Israel in 1948.
B’nai B’rith organized a public petition against this U.N. event and wrote letters to member states urging them not to attend and to deny legitimacy to Palestinian attempts to impose “Nakba Day” upon the U.N. Indeed, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas—the only high-level speaker to fly in for the program—indicated in his remarks that he does not want this first-ever “Nakba” event at the U.N. to be a one-time event: he asked the U.N. to establish May 15 as an “International Day to Commemorate the Palestinian Plight.” This would be in addition to the U.N.’s “International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People” each November, the only such day at the world body for a specific people.
While U.N. officials and many diplomats talk of a two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, those who gathered at U.N. Headquarters to hear Abbas speak were witness to the Palestinian leader’s barrage of historical falsehoods and use of inflammatory rhetoric, making clear that the Palestinian leadership is as uninterested in the compromises necessary for a two-state solution now as 75 years ago.
Abbas’ speech descended into open anti-Semitism when he compared Israel to the Nazis, claiming that Israel “lies like Goebbels.” He also called on states to suspend Israeli membership in the U.N. until it implements General Assembly resolution 194 (which Palestinians argue entitles them to a “right of return” to Israel itself, thereby ending the Jewish state by demographic means). He continued to offensively lay exclusive claim to Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, the holiest place in Judaism, and “Al Buraq,” the Western Wall, the holiest adjoining spot where Jews may pray. The Palestinian Authority is based in Ramallah, but Abbas said during his speech that he wants to go back to live in his birthplace: Safed, within Israel itself.
Israel was not Abbas’ only target, however. He also insinuated that the United Kingdom (by issuing the Balfour Declaration that endorsed Jewish statehood) and the United States (by cooperating in the effort to establish a homeland for the Jewish people) wanted to get rid of their Jews so they can “benefit from their presence in Palestine.”
Abbas showed that he continues to be an obstacle to a peaceful resolution of the conflict. The crowd in the hall responded in kind, including shouts of the slogan, “from the [Jordan] River to the [Mediterranean] Sea, Palestine will be free,” calling for the complete elimination of Israel.
We condemn the U.N. for giving a stage to those defaming and mourning the creation of the world’s only Jewish state, in the Jewish people’s sole ancestral homeland.