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Koch and UN Embroiled in a Fight

February 12, 1982
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A United Nations spokesman said today that a statement made yesterday by a UN official criticizing Mayor Edward Koch for his proposal to alter the inscription on the Isaiah Wall across from the UN, was “unauthorized” and that disciplinary action will be taken against him. The spokesman added, however, that Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar, has decided to put off a luncheon appointment with the mayor, in an apparent expression of displeasure over Koch’s criticism of the world organization.

Incensed over the anti-Israeli resolution adopted by the General Assembly last Friday, which called for the total isolation of Israel for its annexation of the Golan Heights, Koch said that he has been “reading the Bible,” in search for an acceptable phrase to be added to the Isaiah Wall,”that would indicate the “hypocrisy, immorality and cowardice” of the UN.

Last night, a UN official, Hans Janitscheck, said in on interview on WNBC-TV that Koch “can say what he likes, but if he puts it on the wall across the street (from the UN), that is going too far … if the mayor of New York and the people of New York want us out of New York, we would have to consider it very seriously.”

Koch, responding to the criticism of the UN official, retorted last night: “The UN should decide for itself whether it’s comfortable here. The UN is hypocritical and cowardly, and I would not be concerned if, in fact, it moved from the city.” He added: “If the UN would leave New York, nobody would hear of it again.”

Koch disclosed earlier this week that Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, Yehuda Blum, called him last Friday, after the Assembly adopted its harsh anti-Israel resolution, and asked him who owns the Isaiah Wall. “I said the city owns it, ” Koch recalled, adding: “But I told him we would not remove the statement of Isaiah. I said I would simply add a statement which would reflect moral indignation and outrage at the hypocrisy of the UN.”

The present inscription on the Isaiah Wall, quotes from Isaiah 2:4 which reads: “They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning tools; nation shall not lift up sword against nation. Neither shall they learn war any more.”

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