In a seemingly never-ending war of narratives, the Palestinians got center stage on Monday at the United Nations, though Israel was victorious in dwindling the audience down.
May 15 marked the first official U.N. “Nakba Day,” per a resolution that the U.N. General Assembly passed in December.
In Arabic, the word means “disaster” or “catastrophe,” in relation to the establishment of modern-day Israel on May 14, 1948.
The ceremonies took place Monday morning at the United Nations, despite the history of the alleged “catastrophe” including Palestinian Arab refusal of the 1947 U.N. plan to partition British Mandate Palestine into separate Jewish and Arab states, and violation of the U.N. charter, when Arab armies sought to destroy an established state in 1948.
Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas assailed the United States and the United Kingdom in his speech, claiming that the two bear responsibility for the current Palestinian condition by establishing Israel for their own political goals, victimizing the Palestinian people “These countries wanted to get rid of their Jews and benefit from their presence in (British Mandatory) Palestine,” Abbas said.
Abbas insisted that the United Nations suspend Israel if it does not grant Palestinians a state and demanded the so-called “right of return” for millions of refugees’ descendants.
He claimed falsely that Israel agreed to this provision in 1947 in order to be accepted as a U.N. member state.
The United States and United Kingdom announced last week that they would not participate in Monday’s events, drawing Abbas’ ire.
Israel’s U.N. mission and Foreign Ministry campaigned to convince other member states to forgo attending, which appeared to pay dividends.
Some 32 countries reportedly steered clear, including Ukraine, 10 European Union member states, three African nations and Canada.
Gilad Erdan, Israeli ambassador to the United Nations, sent a letter to colleagues on Sunday urging them not to take part in “Nakba Day” ceremonies.
“The thought that an international organization could mark the establishment of one of its member states as a catastrophe or disaster is both appalling and repulsive,” he wrote.
Erdan warned that attending one-sided initiatives such as a “Nakba Day” event “gives a green light to the Palestinians to continue exploiting international organs to promote their libelous narrative.” It also contributes to Jew-hatred, he said.
“Shameful that the United Nations is for the first time marking a country’s birthday—the 75th birthday of (the) world’s only Jewish state, Israel, endorsed by the U.N. in 1947—by calling it a ‘catastrophe,’” B’nai B’rith International tweeted on Monday. “Palestinian ‘Nakba’ Day pushes an odious narrative that promotes more conflict, not peace.”
Bulgaria, Czechia, Greece, Guatemala, Italy and Peru were reportedly among the others boycotting Monday’s event.
The General Assembly will host an event on the evening of May 15, featuring Palestinian singer Sanaa Moussa, the New York Arabic Orchestra and various exhibits and testimonials.
Palestinian supporters also held a rally outside United Nations headquarters on Monday morning.
The EndJewHatred movement is also scheduled to hold a rally outside the United Nations at 5 p.m. on Monday to protest the global body’s “blatant and constant Jew-hatred,” it tweeted.
Previously, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders hosted an anti-Israel event, Nakba Day event, on Capitol Hill where he came under fire from others including Anti-Defamation League. Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) canceled the due to its antisemitic stance.
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