Touro College’s Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust Convenes Panel on Israel and the United Nations

Date: December 08, 2009
Media Contact:

Dana Stern

“Double-Standards are Applied to Israel.”

New York, N.Y. - Touro College’s Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust held a program on the United Nation’s treatment of Israel at the U. N. on Sunday, November 22ndat the Center for Jewish History in Manhattan. The event garnered interest from across New York City and the tri-state area, with attendees ranging from student activists and young professionals, to renowned leaders from the military, government, and journalism sectors.

Entitled “A Paradigm of U.N. Bias Against Israel: International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People,” the program was comprised of a panel of experts who discussed the U.N. and Israel and the evolution of the U.N.’s “International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.” Observed by the U.N. on November 29th, the day marks the moment in 1947 that the General Assembly called for partition of Palestine into a Jewish and Arab state.

“The creation and observance of this Day is one of the worst examples of U.N. bias against Israel,” said panel moderator Anne Bayefsky, director of the Institute, a professor at Touro College and a leading expert in the field of international human rights law. “At the front of the meeting room at U.N. headquarters stand two flags, one of the U. N. and the other Palestinian. The flag of the U.N. member state of Israel isn’t even permitted,” Bayefsky said.

The panel also discussed the root causes for failure to achieve lasting peace in the Middle East, and the ways in which panel members believe that change can occur inside and outside of the U.N.

Ambassador Richard Schifter, a panelist and renowned expert on the U.N. who formerly served as Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs as well as Deputy U.S. Representative to the U.N. Security Council, gave a historic overview of the political alliances and deal-making that he said has fostered the bias over the decades. Ambassador Schifter said “strong bipartisan support in the U.S. House of Representatives is the key to changing anti-Israel voting patterns at the U.N. , which often occur without sufficient oversight or any concern for consequences from the top echelons of governments otherwise friendly to the United States.”

Dr. Charles Asher Small, another panelist who is the founder and director of the Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Anti-Semitism, a research initiative dedicated to the study of Anti-Semitism based at Yale University, told the audience that “the existence of U.N. bias against Israel should alarm Americans across the political spectrum.”

Jonathan Schanzer, the deputy executive director of the Jewish Policy Center, said that the U.N. created and observes a Day of Solidarity with only one side of the Arab-Israeli conflict while remaining silent on the violence between rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah. “So how much are they really in solidarity?,” he asked.

During a question and answer session, audience members focused on what individual Americans can do to bring about change on this issue.