UNITED NATIONS, N.Y. (Oct. 17)
Israeli Foreign Minister Golda Meir today thrust back at a series of anti-Israeli attacks made here by Arab leaders in the last month before the General Assembly. Exercising her right of reply, she told the Assembly, in a fighting speech, that “the time is overdue for this Organization to remind the Arab states of their basic obligations.”
In tones of biting irony, Mrs. Meir apologized to the Assembly for having to take up its time to reply to the Arab attacks. “We should have, of course, known from past experience that nothing angers the representatives of Arab States more than a call for peace,” she explained. “But we promise faithfully not to give up this call until there is peace in the Middle East. We know it will come, it must come, and we are convinced that it is for the good of all concerned that it should come soon. The sooner the better.”
Mrs. Meir accused the Arab spokesmen in the General Assembly of having produced “a series of most fantastic accusations that distort both the ancient and the modern history of our area and our people” because their position in refusing to negotiate with Israel was untenable. She then took up the Arab accusations against Israel one-by-one and replied to them.
Mrs. Meir first turned her attention to charges of “nazism” leveled against Israel by the Saudi Arabian and Lebanese delegates last week. She replied by asking them what their attitude had been towards Haj Amin el-Hussein, one-time Mufti of Jerusalem, when he went to Germany during World War II and worked with Hitler. She reminded the Assembly of Hitler’s racial policies, particularly that “Negroes were not even to be considered human,” and asked: “These Arab representatives who now appear here as crusaders for the equality of all peoples, what did they have to say about this racial doctrine at that time?”
In reply to Arab complaints that Israel had refused to obey United Nations resolutions, she commented: “But what was the answer of the Arab League to the United Nations resolution of 1947? They not only rejected it, but they went to war to defeat it.” This “historical error” of the Arab intervention in Palestine, she pointed out. “left behind it a bitter legacy, including the creation of the Arab refugee problem.” The Arab States themselves, she declared, quoting Arab sources, were responsible for the flight of the Arab population.
To the accusations of “expansionist aims.” Mrs. Meir replied briefly, demolishing the “fairy tales about maps and textbooks.” “None of the foreign diplomats in Israel, and the thousands of foreign visitors who come to the Knesset, she said, “had ever seen the map of Israel’s expansionist program which the Lebanese delegate said hung there, for one simple reason–it does not exist and never has existed.”
REFUTES CHARGES OF DISCRIMINATION AGAINST ARABS, REJECTS ‘COLONIALISM’
Mrs. Meir disposed of charges about the condition of Israeli Arabs by affirming that all Israeli Arabs “enjoy the same political rights as do the Israeli Jews.” No Arab state, she said, “can point to the achievement of a standard of living for the masses of its population that may be compared favorably to the standard of living of the Israeli Arabs.”
Mrs. Meir was most effective in refuting Arab warnings against Israel’s alleged “colonialism.” She told the Assembly: “We are proud of our relations with these new states.” The Arabs know their charges are nonsense, she said, “and what is more important–the Africans themselves know it is nonsense. The leaders of the African countries are not to be frightened by meaningless slogans.”
In the entire United Nations, the Israeli Foreign Minister declared, there was only one instance where member-states declared openly that another member-state had no right to exist and should be put out of existence. “This is the position loudly proclaimed by the Arab States against Israel,” she noted.
“Is this in keeping with the Charter of the United Nations?” she asked. “Is this in keeping with the obligation that each state takes upon itself when it is received into membership of the United Nations? Can this organization overlook such a serious repudiation of the Charter? My delegation sincerely believes that the time is overdue for this organization to remind the Arab states of their basic obligations.”
The Israeli Foreign Minister concluded her address with a fervent appeal for negotiations. “Let us make peace,” she said, “pledge ourselves to non-aggression and have our borders internationally guaranteed. We are prepared. We ask the Arab states to agree. When they do, there will be a genuine prospect of ending a conflict of which the world is weary, and of opening up a new vista of progress for our troubled region.”
Musa Nasir, Foreign Minister of Jordan, again mounted the Assembly rostrum today “to correct some of the misrepresentations” he attributed to Mrs. Meir. Rejecting the offer of peace negotiations, he reiterated all the old charges against Israel’s “aggressions,” and added some fresh allegations about Israel’s purported “persecution” of Arabs living in the Jewish State.