GENEVA (Dec. 2)
– It was billed as a Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People and their aspirations. It had the official blessing of the United Nations. It was lavishly financed by she Arab League, the Arab-Swiss Friendship Association and the Palestine Liberation Organization delegation to the UN here. It was to be a propaganda coop for the Palestinian cause and against Israel.
But it fizzled, due in large measure to the ineptness of the organizers, according to journalists attending the various events. Even the elements compared against it
Palestine Day was declared on official day of celebration by the UN General Assembly in 1977. It is observed on November 29, the anniversary of the UN decision of November 29, 1947 to partition Palestine into Jewish and Arab states. The first thing to go wrong here was the press conference featuring Mayor Bassom Shako of Noblus. Shako lost both his legs in a bomb explosion last June. The crime. widely attributed to Jewish extremists, remains unsolved. But the West Bank Mayor is considered a martyr in Arab and pro-Arab circles.
The world news media was on hand to record his remarks. But Shaka spoke in Arabic and the interpreter hired for the occasion was incompetent and his words were lost to the vast majority of reporters. The overall impression was poor. Journalists left the parts conference angered of having wasted their time Some remarked that the PLO delegation should hove spent its money for a qualified translator rather than on a lavish reception.
ISRAEL JOURNALIST REFUSES PROPAGANDA ROLE
Another event billed on Israeli journalist, Amnon Kopeliuk, as a participant in “Palestine Day.” Kopeliuk accepted the invitation to Geneva, apparently under the impression that he would take port in a round-table discussion of the local university with the West Bonk Arab poetess and journalist, Raymonda Tawil. When Kopeliuk became aware of the propaganda nature of the occasion, he declined to go along with his Arab hosts. At the round-table he spoke only about peace prospects.
At a press conference later, he answered questions about Israel’s internal political situation. His journalist colleagues were impressed by his frankness and his refusal to indulge in propaganda.
An art exhibition, on Arab buffet and Arab folk dances were part of the program of a public hall over the weekend. But Geneva’s notorious wind, the “Bize” was blowing of full strength. It was bitter cold and most of the Swiss preferred to stay home.
The only successful event was the UN meeting held at the Pales Des Notions in the presence of UN officials, diplomats and the Geneva authorities, The usual succession of anti-Israel speeches was delivered by representatives of unaligned notions, the African Unity Group, the International Commission of Jurists, the PLO, the Socialists and, again, Mayor Shako of Nobles. With the highly professional UN translators in attendance, his remarks were understood.
Observers here noted that Arab influence of the UN in Geneva is such that UN employes felt obliged to attend the event, lest they incur the anger of their superiors by staying away.
(A mass demonstration of solidarity with the Palestinian people was held in Utrecht Saturday by the recently formed Association of Palestinians in Holland, the Netherlands Palestine Committee and other pro-Palestine and leftist groups. But the masses failed to materialize. The huge hall was half empty. Peak attendance was estimated of no more than 1700 and most of the time the audience was for smaller as people left, apparently out of boredom. A counter-demonstration outside the hall drew large contingents of police who frequently outnumbered the audience inside. The media paid as much attention to the anti-PLO demonstrators as to the rally itself.)