UNITED NATIONS (May. 24)
Four Non-Governmental Organizations yesterday expressed “shock and distress” at a resolution adopted Monday by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights which stated that “grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention committed by Israel in the occupied Arab territories constitute war crimes and an affront to humanity.” This paragraph part of a resolution dealing with the “Violation of Human Rights in the Territories Occupied as a Result of Hostilities in the Middle East,” was passed in a separate vote of 12-8 with 10 abstentions.
The four organizations criticizing this paragraph were: World Jewish Congress, International Council of Jewish Women, Women’s International Zionist Organization, and the Coordinating Board of Jewish Organizations.
In a letter to Karoly Szarka, president of the Economic and Social Council, the groups stated that their constituencies include hundreds of thousands of survivors of the fiendish Nazi campaigns of murder and destruction. The use of the words “war crimes” to describe Israel’s administration of the territories must, the letter stated, “inevitably convey to our constituencies the impression of an attempt to equate, at least by implication, this administration with the cold-blooded, systematic massive pogroms of annihilation of one of the greatest holocaust in recorded human history.”
The signatories of the letter to Szarka stated that their shock and distress “is compounded by the fear that recourse to such emotion-laden connotations may exacerbate bitterness and retard initiatives toward that peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors which we all ardently desire.” The NGOs appealed to the Economic and Social Council “to find a way in dealing with the Commission’s report of indicating its disagreement with the juridically and factually inadmissible applications of the words ‘war crimes’ to the situation in the aforesaid territories.” The signers noted that Israel granted permission to persons from other countries, “including the neighboring Arab states, to visit these territories.”