by: Daniel Edelson ~ Ynetnews
Monday, 28 November 2022 | The United Nations [UN] is under fire for continuing to host an exhibition at its headquarters in New York that presents the Palestinian–Israeli conflict in an apparent, one-sided manner.
The Question of Palestine and the United Nations opened in 2020 and has become part of a tour taken by tourists visiting the headquarters. It expands on the UN’s history and some of the major issues facing the world today, including world hunger, weapons of mass destruction, climate change, genocide and more.
The part of the exhibition placed in front of the Security Council Chamber explains the history of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. However, it has no mention of the United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine (which recommended a partition of Mandatory Palestine but was refused by the Palestinians), 1948 Arab–Israeli War and terror attacks which took the lives of thousands of Israelis, including the intifadas [uprisings] and the rocket attacks from Gaza.
The exhibition does include, however, images of Palestinian women faced with armed IDF [Israel Defense Forces] soldiers in the West Bank [Judea and Samaria], Palestinian children in Gaza heading to school with heavily-damaged buildings in the background, a crowded street in a Palestinian refugee camp and dozens of people leaning on the West Bank separation barrier.
The images are presented in tandem with the ruling of the International Court of Justice, saying, “The construction of the wall being built by Israel, the occupying power in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around east[ern] Jerusalem, is against international law.”
Alongside pictures of Palestinian refugees fleeing their homes during the aftermath of the War of Independence, a sign is placed, reading, “The State of Israel was founded in 1948. The Arab state—Palestine—wasn’t founded,” without adding further context or explanations.
A large tourist group stood in front of the exhibition this week and listened to the guide’s explanation. “Why won’t Israel allow the Palestinians to have a state?” A woman asked. The guide shrugged in response.
“Why don’t we get the same representation in the UN headquarters?” A woman from Taiwan asked, referring to the state’s conflict with China. The guide said the reason is likely due to the UN “seeing Palestine as a unique issue.”
The guide added that the exhibition is not a mandatory part of the tour, but that “most guides think it’s important.” According to him, he is careful every time he stops there due to the issue being controversial. “I knew people would remark on the exhibition, so I studied it at home ahead of time, and I’m ready for people’s charged emotions on the subject.”
Another, more seasoned guide said that you can’t pass by the exhibition due to its central location. “It’ll be weird to pass by such a large exhibition without saying something about it.”
The decision to stage the exhibit was taken at the UN General Assembly in 2020, as part of the “information plan on the Palestinian question.” Its location was allegedly chosen due to many discussions on the conflict being held at the Security Council Chamber.
The exhibit is the only one in the headquarters presenting a political conflict, and since it was approved in the General Assembly, it cannot be removed with the same ease as other exhibits, despite countless appeals to do so.
“It irks me too, even as someone who isn’t an Israeli,” an official at the headquarters said. “The only way to scrap the exhibition is via a vote in the General Assembly.”
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) is also mentioned in the exhibit as a body acting for “1.6 million Palestinians, 33% of people in the occupied territories, are food insecure. Most of them lack water, with the worst crisis being in Gaza.”
The exhibition also mentioned Israel’s military operations in Gaza, without any explanations as to why these campaigns were needed in the first place.
Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan said: “Nothing shows the discrimination against Israel in the UN more than this skewed exhibition. Its placement near the Security Council Chamber is done to—allegedly—showcase an issue of worldly importance, despite the fact that many other more worrying issues exist in the world.”
”The exhibit’s placement next to one dedicated to the Holocaust proves it.”
In response to Ynet’s inquiry on the exhibit, the UN said: “The location for the exhibition was chosen due to its connection to the Security Council Chamber, where the issue is often debated on. The decision to present the exhibit was taken by the UN General Assembly as part of an information initiative on the Palestinian question.”
It added: “The exhibit is one of many seen during the tour, which includes exhibitions on the Holocaust and the Declaration of the Rights of Man. The exhibition isn’t mandatory. We receive praise and complaints about the exhibitions, as we do with every other exhibit at the headquarters.
Posted on November 28, 2022
Photo Credit: Ron Cogswell/commons.wikimedia.org
Photo License: Wikimedia
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