New York – The ZOA has praised the US Ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, for courageously following up the issue of Israel-bashing within the United Nations system, sending a sharply-worded letter to the UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan threatening to cut funding to the United Nations if it continues to promote anti-Israel events. Ambassador Bolton, whose appointment as UN Ambassador by the Bush Administration was strongly supported by the ZOA, wrote his letter on January 3 in response to a November 29 event celebrating an annual International Day of Solidarity With the Palestinian People, in which a map was displayed from which Israel was erased.
Bolton has said that there was reason to believe the map had been produced and paid for by the UN. The Palestinian observer at the United Nations, Riad Mansour, defended the use of the map, saying, That map has been there for tens of years. Bolton, in his keynote address to the ZOA National Dinner last month, pointed to Israel-bashing in other UN bodies, such as the U N Development Program (UNDP) that had produced mugs and t-shirts with the statement, Today Gaza, Tomorrow Jerusalem and announced that he would be looking further into that incident. The organizer of the Solidarity event was the Division for Palestinian Rights, which in the 2004-2005 UN budget received $5,449,600. Other UN bodies mounting anti-Israel campaigns include the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories ($254,500); the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, ($60,800), and the Information Activities on the Question of Palestine ($566,000).
The Solidarity event was attended by high UN officials, including Secretary-General Annan and the presidents of the Security Council and General Assembly, and Secretary- General Annan was photographed standing in front of the map at the function. A UN spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, said that Mr. Annan was grateful to Mr. Bolton and others who have alerted him to the map, and that he much hopes that the U.N. body that organized the annual event will consider not displaying the map in the future. The ZOA was appalled that Mr. Dujarric said that Secretary-General Annan had done no more than ask the event organizers to consider no longer using the map, as opposed to unequivocally condemning this map and indicating that he and the UN would not tolerate its continued use in the future.
At that event, the map displayed, wrote Ambassador Bolton, erases the state of Israel Given that we now have a world leader [Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad] pursuing nuclear weapons who is calling for the state of Israel to be wiped off the map, the issue has even greater salience … Who is the high-level official within the secretariat who approved use of the map for the event? Does the United Nations intend to use the map in future UN-sponsored functions and events? In light of prohibition under US law to fund events such as this one, do you consider it appropriate for the United Nations to advertise and promote the event on its general Web site and other venues, which do in fact benefit from US funds? (New York Sun, January 13).
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, The ZOA commends Ambassador Bolton for his forthright stand on justice for Israel within the UN. For too long, the democratic world has tolerated the vicious institutional enmity against Israel in the world body. We are gratified that Ambassador Bolton, as he foreshadowed in his keynote address to the ZOA National Dinner in December, has pursued the issue at the highest levels within the UN and is seeking answers to disturbing questions about the efforts to demonize Israel at the UN carried on by UN committees, 22% of whose budget is funded by the American taxpayer. It is entirely appropriate that the UN, which is under world-wide scrutiny for the oil-for-food scandal and in need of institutional reform, should be held to account and US dues withheld if change is not forthcoming.
We are also shocked at the response on the map incident from the UN spokesman, Stephane Dujarric. What would Kofi Annans spokesman say if an Israeli diplomat invited the Secretary-General to a function in a hall displaying a map of the Middle East on which Jordan did not appear, but with Israel appearing within todays parameters but also in place of Jordan? Would Kofi Annan have accepted that or would he have walked out? Would he have permitted his spokesman to say later that he was asking the Israelis merely to consider removing the map in the future? He should have been able to say that the Secretary-General opposes its use and will not attend events at which it is displayed, but failed to do so.
Ambassador Bolton is proving by his conduct since becoming UN Ambassador that he was an inspired choice for this important posting and the Bush Administration deserves great credit for his appointment. Ambassador Bolton represents the best hope of bringing a measure of justice for Israel and promoting serious institutional reform in the UN.