When, in December 1991, President George H. W. Bush announced the introduction of the resolution to revoke the so-called “Zionism is racism” resolution at the United Nations, he said that the resolution mocked the principles upon which the U.N. was founded. Zionism, he said “is the idea that led to the creation of a home for the Jewish people, to the State of Israel. And to equate Zionism with the intolerable sin of racism is to twist history and forget the terrible plight of Jews in World War II and, indeed, throughout history. To equate Zionism with racism is to reject Israel itself, a member of good standing of the United Nations…This body cannot claim to seek peace and at the same time challenge Israel's right to exist. By repealing this resolution unconditionally, the United Nations will enhance its credibility and serve the cause of peace.”
These words still resonate today. Because, unfortunately, 27 years after the revocation of this infamous resolution, there are entities at the heart of the U.N. system that continue to challenge Israel’s right to exist and to seek its destruction.
On November 30, 2018, 100 and 96 states, respectively, voted at the United Nations General Assembly to renew the funding and mandate authorization of two biased entities that only push the prospects of an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement further away.
One of these entities is the so-called “Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People” (CEIRPP). CEIRPP was created by the General Assembly on November 10, 1975, the same day that the “Zionism is Racism” resolution was approved. But while this resolution was successfully repealed in 1991, CEIRPP remained in place.
Made up of the representatives of 26 countries (including some of the world’s most atrocious regimes), CEIRPP’s main goal is to promote the idea that Israel is an illegitimate entity and a racist regime. And to achieve its destruction, it actively advocates for the so-called “right of return” of the “Palestinian refugees” to the land that is today the State of Israel. And by Palestinian refugees, they not only mean the original people that were displaced as a result of the war that Israel was forced to fight right after its independence, but also their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren along the paternal line.
Fortunately, the U.S. government has recently challenged the notion that there are more than five million Palestinian refugees today, by disputing the characterization of descendants of refugees as refugees. The U.S. has also stopped its funding of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), the U.N. agency that has perpetuated the Palestinian refugee problem by inflating their numbers and by allowing their status to pass from generation to generation (something that doesn’t happen with any other group of refugees in the world). But CEIRPP continues to disseminate its rejectionist agenda throughout the world in the name of the U.N.
The other entity, whose funding and mandate authorization was renewed on November 30, is the Division for Palestinian Rights (or DPR). This entity was created in 1977, at the request of CEIRPP and to assist with its mission. The Palestinians are the only people in the world who have their own division within the U.N. Secretariat, so this entity is a real anomaly.
By supporting CEIRPP and DPR, U.N. member states are endorsing the rejectionist position of the Palestinian leadership and reinforcing the idea that they will be able to end Israel’s existence through the mass migration to Israel of persons of Palestinian ancestry. They are, therefore, discouraging peace negotiations, which would necessarily imply the recognition of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people and the abandonment of the “right of return.”
Generations of Palestinians continue to be indoctrinated in the idea that Israel is an illegitimate entity and that they have an "inalienable" right to return to that land. This is where the main obstacle to peace is. And the responsibility of the U.N. and its members in maintaining this dangerous fantasy is enormous.
Adriana Camisar is B’nai B’rith International's Special Advisor on Latin American Affairs. A native of Argentina, Camisar is an attorney by training and holds a Master’s degree in international affairs from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University.
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