UNITED NATIONS (Jul. 19)
The World Youth Assembly is over but the malady lingers on. More than 600 delegates are returning to their homes and many are returning with feelings of futility, frustration and rage. For nine days a highly organized and strident feet-stomping, hand-clapping and raucous Soviet-Arab-leftist bloc fostered a monotone of prejudice, hostility, hatred and bureaucratic despotism within the Assembly, especially in the “Peace Commission,” that led to expected results. When the Assembly ended Friday an amendment to the “peace” report calling for the creation of “a unitary, democratic state in Palestine” was adopted by a vote of 293-17. Lars Thalen of Sweden, Assembly chairman, then read a proposal to add an amendment calling “upon all parties to conclude without delay a Just and lasting peace in the Middle East, in accordance with the Security Council Resolution 242 of November 1967.” After reading this proposal Mr. Thalen ruled that no vote could be taken on this because it contradicted the one on the democratic state adopted moments earlier. The Soviet-Arab bloc, however, suffered a setback at the closing minutes of the Assembly when an amendment to the “peace” report, introduced by the Israeli delegation and their friends to call upon the Soviet Union to withdraw immediately its troops from Czechoslovakia, was adopted by a vote of 271-115.
The Peace Commission was the most bellicose of the four commissions because the Soviet-Arab-leftist bloc was able to stack it with a disproportionate number of delegates. Each delegation had five members who, theoretically, were supposed to participate in each of the four commissions. But this bloc decided to send most of their delegates to the peace commission and then proceeded to steamroller uncommitted delegates into their fold. The resolution of this commission was formulated by members of this bloc. The “peace” report contained eight denunciations of United States Imperialism, a series of denunciations against “aggressor” Israel, and a number of swipes against Great Britain. West Germany, Japan, France, Spain and Portugal. The 18-member steering committee was also controlled by the Soviet-Arab-leftist bloc. The “peace” report, which was rammed through late Friday night, was challenged by the Israeli delegates and their sympathizers. The five American delegates sat quietly and offered no challenge to its legality. Vasile Nicolcioiv of Rumania, speaking on behalf of the steering committee, submitted the “peace” resolution which included an expression of “solidarity with the struggle of the Palestinian people and demand the immediate withdrawal of Israeli troops from all occupied Arab territories and the recognition of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people to self-determination.”
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Janez Kocijanic of Yugoslavia supported the message, particularly the section on the Palestinian people. He said he agreed with the Israeli delegate that “we are all for peace” but added that if the Israelis were for peace “you should withdraw your forces from Jerusalem” and other occupied territories. He and several other delegates, speaking on the resolution, condemned what they termed a policy of blocs. Jonathan Livny of Israel paid he could agree with much of the resolution but added that a number of elements were missing. He declared that both the Big Powers – the United States and the Soviet Union – should withdraw from the Middle East and permit Israel and the Arab nations to “come to terms.” There would be no peace, Mr. Livny stated, as long as there were Phantoms in the Middle East “and Russian pilots in Egypt.” Mr. Livny also observed that the resolution presented “no constructive idea which would lead us or show us the way to peace.”
Prior to the adoption of the “peace” report in a wild table-pounding session, Ariel Whine of Israel tore up a copy of the report at the rostrum. Dennis Prager of New York, representing International Hillel Youth, took over the rostrum before the adoption and said he would not leave until there was a vote on whether the report had been legally adopted by the Assembly’s commission on peace. Mr. Thalen called the chief of the United Nations security to remove Prager, saying “Please take him away for heaven’s sake.” Mr. Prager was escorted from the rostrum. Jacob Levy of Israel stepped to the rostrum. The chairman said Mr. Levy did not have the floor and asked him to leave. Mr. Levy continued to speak from the rostrum. A drumfire of hand-clapping and shouts of “out” were heard and he left the rostrum. At a press conference Friday morning, the Israeli delegation charged the Arab and Soviet delegates were “more interested In war than In peace.” Mr. Levy said the Israeli’s every effort to meet with Arab delegates to discuss “doing something not to continue the war” had been ignored. Calling this a tragedy because “the young are the first victims of war,” he said, “We are still willing to meet privately, today or next week, without public notice, to discuss the Issues. Continuing, Mr. Levy declared “We are for self-determination, but first, let us learn to live side by side in separate Israeli and Palestinian states with peaceful cultural and people-to-people exchanges.” On Friday afternoon, UN Secretary General U Thant delivered an address to the delegates remarking that “I would like to compliment all of you for your hard work. I think you have been as productive as the diplomats who normally meet here.” One delegate summed up the reaction of many of his co-participants by noting: “This is certainly true and definitely tragic.”