NEW YORK (Dec. 21)
The United Nations was denounced today by Rabbi William Berkowitz, president of the Jewish National Fund, for the vote by the Security Council last Friday evening to condemn Israel for expelling two Palestinian West Bank mayors.
“The United Nations continues to fiddle while the Middle East burns,” he said. “The future of two Arab may on who have openly sided with the terrorist Palestine Liberation Organization and fomented violence that took the lives of six Israeli citizens monopolizes the time and the attention of the Security Council while the Soviet rape of Afghanistan goes into it’s second year and while the mutual slaughter of Iran and Iraq continues unremarked.”
The Security Council’s unanimous vote on the two Arab mayors, Fahd Kawasme of Hebron and Mohammed Milhim of Holhoul, was also denounced by Yehuda Blum, Israel’s Ambassador to the U N. He told the Council that Israel’s judicial system, which has an “enviable reputation,” had ruled on the case and “we cannot accept any attempt to interfere with the judicial process of our country.”
He denounced the Council for hypocrisy in considering the case for the third time this year while ignoring the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the Libyan invasion of Chad, the Iran-Iraq war and the ordeal of the American hostages in Iran.
U.S. GOES ALONG WITH CONDEMNATION
The real bombshell in the vote was that the United States went along with the other Council members to condemn Israel for expelling the two mayors. It was the first time since last March that the U.S. had voted against Israel in the UN, and President Carter himself repudiated that vote after he came under fire from American Jewish organizations. However, after the vote Friday evening, U.S. Ambassador Donald McHenry stated, “Cynics may claim that we would have voted differently before November 4, but I can’t be hostage to cynics.”
Referring to the U.S. vote, Rabbi Alexander Schindler, president of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, said today: “That the U.S. should have joined the UN’s latest display of anti – Israel bias comes as a deep disappointment but no surprise. Let us hope that the incoming Reagan Administration will recognize what President Carter never understood that the U.S. need not pander to the anti-Israel bigotry of the Arab-Soviet-Third World bloc.”
MAYORS CONDUCTING HUNGER STRIKE
As soon as the vote was taken Friday, Kawasme and Milhim announced that they were conducting a hunger strike inside the UN, hoping that this unprecedented action would face-Israel to readmit them. Secretary General Kurt Waldheim gave the two men personal permission to conduct their hunger strikes. The mayors had been expelled originally last May following the terrorist ambush killings of six yeshiva students in Hebron. They appealed against their expulsion and were again expelled earlier this month to Lebanon.
Their hunger strike in the UN building is unprecedented. Other demonstrators have also staged protests on the UN premises but have been removed by guards and turned over to New York City police. But Waldheim gave his personal permission for the sit-in by the two mayors because, according to the Secretary General’s spokesman, “In this case there has just been a unanimous Security Council resolution. It is non the some as coming in from the street.”
Milhim told the Council right after the vote was taken; “We have no homes to go back to and we consider that this building belongs to everybody, especially those who are oppressed, so we have decided to stay.” Neither he nor Kawasme indicated how long they intend to conduct their hunger strike.