The sharpest condemnation of an Arab leader probably ever heard at the United Nations was delivered in the General Assembly here today by Mrs. Golda Meir, Israel’s Foreign Minister, when she attacked Ahmad Shukairy of Saudi Arabia and his Government in reply to Mr. Shukairy’s diatribe against Israel voiced yesterday,
Without mentioning Shukairy’s name, but referring to him as “the gentleman from Saudi Arabia,” Mrs. Meir accused him of having been a collaborator of a Hitler associate, of uttering outright lies and of representing a country which not only condoned but practiced slavery.
In her address, Mrs. Meir also took an open stand against Mongi Slim of Tunisia, President of the Assembly, who had permitted Mr. Shukairy to use the Assembly rostrum for a speech which Israel had already termed “vicious and obscene.” Mr. Slim yesterday had failed to use his Presidential prerogative to halt Mr. Shukairy. Assembly presidents have in the past stopped delegates–including Mr. Shukairy himself and even Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev–when they had gone beyond bounds.
Opening her remarks, Mrs. Meir told the Assembly: “It is with a feeling of abhorrence at the statement made here yesterday by the delegates of Saudi Arabia, and surprise that this vicious speech, with its racial incitement, its direct personal offense, and its outright falsehoods, was allowed to continue unchecked, that I come to this rostrum to make some comments.”
Pointing out that Mr. Shukairy had equated Israel with Nazism, Mrs. Meir said: “Such an equation can be made only by someone who is either totally ignorant of what Nazism was or by someone who is indifferent to it.” She cited the fact that Mr. Shukairy as a member of the Arab Higher Committee during the Second World War was “a close associate of the Committee’s leader, the notorious ex-Mufti of Jerusalem.” The ex-Mufti, she said, had “spent the war years in Germany and collaborated with the Nazi leaders in connection with their extermination program of the Jews.”
Mrs. Meir challenged Mr. Shukairy to point to any statement ever made by him in condemnation of Hitler during the war. “When did the delegate from Saudi Arabia,” she asked, “begin to denounce Hitler and Nazism–when they were occupying one European country after another? Or only after Hitler was defeated?”
ARAB BENEFITS IN ISRAEL CITED; ENJOY MORE FREEDOM THAN IN ARAB LANDS
Mrs. Meir quoted from Arab newspapers in Jordan, Damascus and Beirut, published within the last year, writing in praise of Eichmann and regretting that Eichmann had been unable to “finish the job of exterminating the rest of the Jews in the world.” The Arab leaders, she said, “in their blind hatred toward Israel and the entire Jewish people, do not stop feeding this poison to their own people, including the youngest.”
The Israel Foreign Minister clearly made an effort to straighten the record in regard to the major Israel-Arab disputes for the benefit of 40 new African and Asian states whose representatives here have been much too busy fighting for their own freedom in recent years to keep track of the Israel-Arab developments.
Mrs. Meir went briefly into the history of Israeli-Arab disputes and warfare from the time the Assembly voted Palestine partition in November 1947 to the attacks against Israel launched by seven Arab states within minutes after Israel had proclaimed its independence in 1948. She recalled that it was the Arabs themselves who created the refugee problem by telling the Arabs in Palestine to leave, promising them they would be able to return “after total victory against Jews within a few weeks.”
The Israel Foreign Minister once again challenged the Arab leaders to refute Israel’s assertions that the 235,000 Arabs in Israel enjoy more freedoms and greater economic and social advantages than the Arabs in the Arab states. Since Mr. Shukairy had proposed yesterday that the United Nations establish a commission to investigate the situation of the Arab population of Israel, Mrs. Meir told the Assembly: “I believe that a rather more urgent investigation would be appropriate in regard to the question of slavery in Saudi Arabia.”
Mrs. Meir pointed to a General Assembly protocol adopted in 1953 outlawing slavery and to another, supplementary convention on slavery adopted in 1956 by a conference convened by the United Nations Economic and Social Council. To this day, she pointed out, Saudi Arabia has not signed either the 1953 or the 1956 instruments.
On the other hand she called attention to the fact that to this very day there is a law in Saudi Arabia for “regulating” slavery and quoted a clause from this law reading “it is not permitted to engage in the traffic of slaves as an agent or broker except with an official license issued by the competent authority.”
Mrs. Meir called Shukairy’s assertions that Israel seeks to expand its territory at the expense of the Arabs as totally “baseless.” She also termed as “baseless” the story of “an alleged attempt to assassinate Dag Hammarskjold during a visit to Jerusalem.” She concluded by saying that, in spite of the “venom and hatred” evident in the speech of the delegate from Saudi Arabia, Israel would continue to call for peace with its neighbors.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.