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Jordan Minister Attacks Jewish Religion at U. N.; Rebuked by Israel

November 25, 1959
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The session of the Special Political Committee of the United Nations General Assembly–at which the Arab refugee question is being debated for the third week–was marked today by a clash between Michael Comay, deputy chairman of the Israeli delegation, and Jordan’s Foreign Minister Musa Naser.

Repeating the usual Arab arguments against Israel, the Jordanian representative told the committee that the Jewish people “instead of accepting the supreme responsibility the chosen people of God, have become the spoiled people of a god who apparently and according to their thinking, loves to see them massacre innocent men, women and children in order that they may build over their dead bodies a political state.” Mr. Naser referred to the current Jewish concept of God as a “Zionist God.”

Rising to a point of order. Mr. Comay declared “we will not tolerate attacks against the Jewish religion.” Charles T. O. King of Liberia, chairman of the committee, told the Jordanian foreign minister “we should have tolerance on the floor of the United Nations.”

“I have not attacked religion,” replied Mr. Naser, but those Jews who have strayed away from it.” He went on to accuse Israel of conducting “obviously a religious war against Moslems–with Jews in the front line and Christians in the back line.” When Mr. Naser voiced another accusation against Israel by declaring that it is robbing the Arab refugees of their just claims to property in Israel, Mr. Comay objected again.

The Israeli representative reminded Jordan that “a strictly impartial United Nations Commission dealt with Jewish claims in Palestine in terms that were at least equal to those of the Arabs and proposed the establishment of a separate Jewish State.” The Arabs, continued Mr. Comay, had gone “to war to resist the resolution of the General Assembly,” and cannot now “wash their hands of the problem.”


A call for “concrete and effective” steps toward solution of the refugee problem was voiced by the next speaker, Liu Chieh, representative of Nationalist China. Then R.Q. Quentin-Baxter of New Zealand, took the floor and told the Committee that the problem of the Palestine Arab refugees “can be solved through the active cooperation of the Governments of Israel and the Arab countries.”

Israel’s arguments do not alter the fundamental nature of the 1948 Assembly resolution which offered the refugees “a free choice between repatriation and compensation with resettlement,” Mr. Quentin-Baxter continued. He told the committee that he believed that refugees repatriated to Israel could “resume a normal life in today’s environment” although they would undoubtedly find their former homes in Israel “vastly changed.”

On behalf of Canada, Arthur R. Smith, delegate from the Dominion, told the Committee he hoped that suggestions for the reactivation of the Palestine Conciliation Commission and the possibility of creating a special UN Committee to deal with the Arab refugee problem would receive serious consideration. He said that such suggestions could encourage exploration of other constructive approaches to the refugee problem.

A resolution urging authorization of renewed activities of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for a five-year period was introduced last night by Indonesia and Pakistan during debate on the Palestine Arab refugee problem. The draft resolution introduced by the two Asian countries noted with “deep regret” that neither repatriation nor compensation for the refugees had been effected. It then called for extension of the UNR WA mandate for another five years.

The draft resolution also asked UNRWA and the Palestine Conciliation Commission to “continue consultations in the best interests of their respective tasks” with particular reference to implementation of a section of the 1948 UN resolution. The section calls for repatriation or compensation without offering any alternative solution to the problems of the refugees.

A spokesman for the United States delegation was known to have termed the draft resolution unacceptable because it failed to specify actions which might bring a settlement of the problem.

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