NYBR Delegation Presents Protest Letter at UN Meeting

On Wednesday morning, October 21, 2015, a delegation of twenty Jewish and Christian leaders met with members of Secretary General’s office at the United Nations. They requested this meeting given the language the Secretary General employed in describing “Israel’s use of excessive force” in his response to the escalating violence this week.

A formal letter of protest was presented to express their profound disagreement with his characterization of the situation. The letter stated:

Every member state has legitimate right of self-defense in the face of wanton terrorism. Sadly, the United Nations does not grant this moral right to Israel and consistently sees Palestinians as victims and Israelis as aggressors. This morally bankrupt stance contravenes the human rights principles upon which the United Nations was founded.

Contrary to the wrongful assertions that violence is attributable to “the longstanding occupation” and “the lack of a political horizon,” it is clearly hate speech coupled with incitement which create this bloody climate of conflict.

As Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, Executive Vice President of the New York Board of Rabbis strongly articulated, “ The murder of innocent Israelis must be fully condemned by the Secretary General without equivocation or statements of moral equivalence which fail to distinguish between victim and aggressor. Disputes about land should be resolved at a peace table, not through shootings and stabbings in the streets.”

Furthermore, the letter read:

“We also ask, Mr. Secretary General, that you take note that the attacks are taking place in areas of Bersheva, communities over the Green Line, Jerusalem, Jaffa, Petah Tikva, Afula, Kiryat Gat and Ra'anana, which have no geographical connection to so called land settlements.”

The Secretary General’s staff expressed both an openness to the group’s criticisms of recent statements and were receptive to their discussion of matters of mutual concerns. They indicated their willingness to reexamine recent statements in light of the opinions shared by the group.

Rabbi David-Seth Kirshner, President of the New York Board of Rabbis said that, “I am very proud of the NYBR’s leaders in setting up this important meeting and was refreshed by the receptivity of the Secretary General’s staff to our efforts. We hope that this is the beginning of a process to strengthen the dialogue between the Jewish and Christian communities and the United Nations, and will lead to the safety of Israeli citizens in the streets as well as further legitimizing Israel’s place amongst its brothers and sisters in the Family of Nations.”

Dr. Paul de Vries, President of the New York Divinity School, affirmed, “Christian leaders stood as one with Jewish leaders insisting that public statements asserting moral equivalence of street terrorists with legitimate government need to stop. As long as the United Nations' leaders try to be ‘nice’ to everyone, the will tarnish the UN principles and also multiply the chaos and the killings.”

The group requested that both organizations work collaboratively to strengthen the lines of communications between them. The delegation also asked for a meeting with the Secretary General upon his return to New York.

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