United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is scheduled to attend a service on Shabbat at a New York Orthodox synagogue to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day, at the end of a week of sharp tension with Israel over his criticism that Jerusalem interpreted as giving a “tailwind” to terrorism.
Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon will accompany Ban to the Park East Synagogue for the service and an address by the UN secretary-general. The UN chief has infuriated Israel twice over the last 10-days, first in a speech at the monthly Security Council debate on the Middle East last week when he said that “as oppressed peoples have demonstrated throughout the ages, it is human nature to react to occupation, which often serves as a potent incubator of hate and extremism.”
After being sharply criticized by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who said his words gave support for terrorism and were further proof that the UN has lost its moral standing,” Ban – in an unprecedentedly sharp op-ed in The New York Times
– charged, without mentioning Netanyahu by name, that he had twisted his words, and that Israel should not “shoot the messenger” and “lash out” at “every well-intentioned critic.”
Danon, currently in Israel for the annual meeting at the Foreign Ministry of the heads of Israel’s missions abroad, said that Ban’s words were not coincidental or spoken just by chance. “One thing is clear, and that is that there is a problem,” he told the Post
He said that Ban’s comments needed to be seen as part of a stepped up effort by the Palestinians and their supporters in the UN to dial up the international pressure on Israel.
Israel and American Jewish organizations have all made clear to Ban their displeasure with his comments, Danon said.
“He can criticize,” the ambassador said. “But we are not willing to be a second class member state. He needs to condemn the terrorism, period. With an exclamation point. No parenthesis to discuss the causes of terror.”
Danon also took Ban to task for a recent secretary-general’s report on the status of Palestinian women from October 1, 2014, to September 30, 2015, which said during the period in question eight Israelis –“mostly settlers” – were killed by Palestinians. The report, referring to the Har Nof synagogue attack in November 2014, grouped the attackers in with the victims, saying that “five Israeli men and two Palestinian men were also killed in one incident in West Jerusalem.”
This report, Danon said, is a “complete distortion of reality.” First of all, he said, describing the murdered Israelis as “mostly settlers” lessens the crime and gives legitimacy to terrorism, and is just an extension of the tone of Ban’s remarks in the Security Council.
Second, Danon said, the description of what happened at the Har Nof synagogue needed to be erased and replaced with the following: “Two terrorists entered a synagogue and murdered five innocent Israelis in cold blood.”
“The secretary-general forgot the role of the UN, and instead of condemning terrorism, he gives it legitimization,” Danon said.
Malcolm Hoenlein, the executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, told the Post
earlier this week that Ban was “basically not a bad guy.”
The secretary-general of the UN becomes a “captive of the system,” he said, adding that the speech Ban gave at the Security Council was the result of “a speech writer, or someone advising him.” Hoenlein said that “speech writers often have a bigger impact sometimes than the principal.”