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U.N.’s Ban Ki-moon meets with Jewish leaders

(JTA) — Leaders of several Jewish organizations met with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to express concerns about recent actions and comments made by U.N. officials.

Wednesday’s meeting at the United Nations in New York included representatives from several major Jewish organizations, including the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, the Anti-Defamation League, B’nai B’rith and the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

According to participants in the meeting, the organizational leaders raised several issues, including the recently announced U.N. Human Rights Council investigation into Israel’s conduct in the fighting in Gaza, which the communal leaders argued had been framed in a biased fashion against Israel, and the appointment of Canadian legal academic William Schabas to the probe given his past criticisms of Israel and its leaders.

The Jewish leaders also objected to critical statements made about Israel by officials with the U.N. Relief and Works Agency and expressed concern about UNRWA facilities in Gaza being used to store rockets. They also objected to Moon’s recent statement accusing Israeli of committing a “criminal act” in shelling a U.N. school.

According to the participants, Moon listened respectfully and took notes but offered no endorsement of their objections and promised no specific action.

“The secretary-general reiterated that he fully understands Israel’s legitimate security concerns but also stressed the need to show restraint in their actions in Gaza so as to avoid civilian casualties,” said U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric, according to a report by The Associated Press.

“It’s always important when someone like the secretary-general is willing to listen, to meet and to take the time to hear critique,” said Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League. “Even when people say you’re wrong, if they’ve listened and heard you — and there’s no question in my mind that the secretary-general listened — it will have an impact in the future.”

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