Jerusalem Event Counters UN Celebration of Palestinian Nakba Campaign against Israel
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JERUSALEM, Israel – On May 15th, the United Nations hosted an event marking the "Nakba," an Arabic word meaning catastrophe. Palestinians use that term to describe what happened to them when the State of Israel was born in 1948. Recently, another meeting held in Jerusalem showed a very different view of history.
The event at the United Nations' New York headquarters included ambassadors from dozens of nations, and featured Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
During his remarks, Abbas compared Israel to Nazi propaganda chief Josef Goebbels and declared the Nakba is ongoing.
“It (the catastrophe) did not stop after that date (1948)," Abbas told the gathering. "Israel, the occupying power, continues its occupation and its aggression against the Palestinian people and continues to deny this Nakba and rejects international resolutions regarding the return of Palestinian refugees to their homeland, to their cities and villages, of which they were displaced by aggression and terror."
Arsen Ostrovsky, CEO of the International Legal Forum, responded to Abbas's remarks, telling CBN News, "You know, the U.N. right now, as we are celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Jewish state, at the U.N., they are holding an event marking the catastrophe of the Jewish state's rebirth. This is absurd. The only catastrophe is that the Palestinian leadership, 75 years later, continue to seek the Jewish state's annihilation and refuse to make peace. That is the real catastophe."
Ostrovsky criticized the Palestinian Authority's public calls for the elimination of Israel. He joined a gathering in Jerusalem called "Declaration Day."
Dr. Elana Heideman is the executive director of Israel Forever, the group that sponsored the gathering.
She told CBN News, “Declaration Day, on May 15th, 1948 was a day that had been celebrated and honored all over the world by Jews and non-Jews as well, especially the Christian Zionist community that had been so wide at the time.”
Ostrovsky explained, “This is a day when we celebrate the Jewish people's return to our ancestral homeland. After 2,000 years, we've been exiled. We've suffered through persecution, pogroms, the Holocaust, but throughout time, we have never lost hope to return to Zion, to Jerusalem, to our eternal homeland, Israel, and this is a day to celebrate and to rejoice.”
May 15th, 1948. marked the official end of the British Mandate in Palestine. Since May 15th fell on a sabbath that year, Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion announced the state's existence on Friday afternoon, May 14th. Since then, Israel's Knesset marks the day on the Hebrew calendar, which changes year to year. However Heideman and Israel Forever want to reestablish May 15th as a declaration day for the rest of the world.
“So, what we wanted to ensure is that Declaration Day is a day where we are able to reaffirm Israel's legitimate existence in international law and in the welcome as amongst the family of nations," she explained. "The rest of the world will have an opportunity to recognize this historical milestone, especially considering that the international community affirmed Israel's existence on that very day, starting with President Truman, 11 minutes after the declaration was made.”
Heideman wants to present an alternative to the U.N.'s Nakba Day.
“So it's very important that we established these types of events, not only this year, but every year. So that Nabka and the idea of our existence as catastrophe doesn't become a rhetoric that is so easily adopted into what especially the political world understands, and the diplomatic world understands," she said.
A number of ambassadors attended the Jerusalem event, including Ambassador Ava A. Arevelo de Moscoso of Guatemala, the second country after the U.S. to recognize the Jewish state in 1948.
“For me, it's a pleasure, it's an honor to be here in this wonderful country because all time, the people in Guatemala learn, we learn to love this country because for us it's, it's the country of God," she said.
Azerbaijan's Ambassador to Israel, Mukhtar Mammadov, spoke on behalf of his mostly-Muslim nation. “Not coincidentally, Azerbaijan opened its embassy in Israel on the 75th year, in the independence of Israel. We believe it's an important milestone in our political relations, bilateral relations with Israel. This will give us new opportunities into widening, developing our relations in various fields. We consider Israel as our strategic partners and want to have cooperation by all means of this word,” Mammadov said.
While it can be a struggle to present Israel's case to the U.N., Heideman believes it's worth the effort.
"Luckily, at the United Nations, we also see some change happening, with some of the U.N. ambassadors being more understanding of Israel's history and truth; but it's a slow process, so every little attempt that we make is an important one," she said.
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