JERUSALEM (Nov. 14)
The 29th of November, as most Zionists know, marks the date when the United Nations General Assembly voted to establish the State of Israel in 1947. This year, however, Nov. 29 has gained two additional meanings. In December 1977, a four-member UN committee declared it “International Day of Solidarity With the Palestinian People,” as a means of promoting the “legitimate rights of the Palestinian people and furthering the Palestinian cause throughout the world.”
As a counter-effort last month, the newly-established information department of the World Zionist Organization proclaimed the same date “Peace Day” in an attempt to increase world Jewry’s awareness of the manner in which the UN efforts are circumventing both the original meaning of Nov. 29 and the real Zionist yearning for peace.
“Few people seem to understand the urgency or seriousness of the matter,” contends the department’s director, Yohanan Manor. “Most people don’t understand that the PLO is still pressing for the destruction of Israel. It wants to turn the wheels of time backward. This is the reason it chose November 29 as Palestine Day.”
Manor adds that since the UN General Assembly equated Zionism with racism in 1975, representatives of the Arab states and the PLO have been systematically attempting to gain greater legitimacy for their claims through all available international channels. “Only the recent decision to mark November 29 as Palestine Day has pushed people into understanding the real significance of this process,” he says.
‘PEACE IS THE WAY OF ZIONISM’
The WZO has launched an international information campaign under the slogan, “Peace is the Way of Zionism,” to try and present Israel in its proper light. The department is centering its efforts on the two focal points of peace and Zionism in a long line of activities planned throughout the world.
“We don’t want to promote a clash with the UN efforts for Palestine Day head on,” says Manor. “Rather, we want to utilize the subject of November 29 as a means of stressing the diplomatic processes, which, in the end result, represent recognition of the Zionist movement. Together with this, we will expose the motivation which established Palestine Day for what it is.”
The department is busy preparing different types of international material to be distributed to Jewish communities throughout the world. This includes a special eight-page newspaper supplement to be printed in 70,000 copies in English, Spanish, and French which will contain articles on peace and Zionism. Contributors to this supplement include Oxford historian, Martin Gilbert, U.S. Senator Daniel Moynihan (D.NY) and tentatively, former President Ford and former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.
In addition, guideline material will be sent to over 2000 Jewish communities, encouraging them to conduct those activities they feel most appropriate for their community. The department has suggested background lectures on peace and Zionism, rallies or peace marches, Middle East folklore evenings, symposiums on the functional aspects of peace in the Middle East or cross-congregational interfaith gatherings to pray for peace in the Mideast. A mass rally is also planned for the area of the UN headquarters in New York City on Nov. 29.
WORLDWIDE MAJOR EVENTS PLANNED
Manor emphasizes that the activities implemented by each community will be decided upon by the community alone, and that the department will provide enough background material on Zionism, peace, the original UN partition resolution and the recent UN committee decision on Palestine Day to assist in the Planning of activities.
“Unfortunately, we weren’t able to start planning this campaign earlier because the department came into being only very recently,” Manor concedes. “But it is better to do as much as we can within the allotted time period than do nothing at all. And in these conditions, I have no doubt that the campaign will be effective.” While the UN is devoting some $800,000 to the celebration of Palestine Day, the WZO has approximately only IL 700,000-800,000 ($35,000-$40,000) at its disposal which can be directed at the event, plus any resources the communities feel they can supplement on their own.
At present, everything is running at a very hectic pace in the frantic effort to ensure that all background and informational material reaches the Jewish communities before Nov. 29. In addition to New York, other major events planned by the different communities include a festive evening in Paris to celebrate the coming of peace, celebrations in Venezuela, Belgium and Denmark, and a mass press event in fron of the UN international headquarters in Geneva on Nov. 29.