Journalists rarely write about what is goes on in the offices of the United Nations in New York and elsewhere in the world. Rarely are the United Nations affairs discussed in public. This giant and luxurious bureaucracy surrounds itself with a veil of mystery. This Institution remains unknown to the public, and it continues to keep a veil of privacy over what goes on in their offices. A list of prohibitions control its staff. Nobody is allowed to talk, or to give any information about this institution. The United Nations press office teams, operate under these prohibitions and protocols, which are similar to the military censorship laws which I experienced in the office of the military occupation censorship in Beit Agron in Israel.
When I attended a training course in the practice of journalism at the UN Press Office in New York, under former Secretary General Kofi Annan, doing useless journalistic work and receiving a high salary from them, I understood what it means to be a journalist working at the luxurious UN offices. With this and that, I am not against the UN, but I would like to ask some questions related to the UN solidarity events with Palestinian people which I attended in Vienna on December 1 2009. “Click on pictures to make them bigger”.
* Why did the United Nations office in New York ban the President of the International Progress Organization (IPO) from participating in the “Annual Observance of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People” in Vienna after this NGO had been participating in the event with a representative for the last 29 years here in Vienna?
* Are there logical reasons behind the dismissal of IPO? Is it due to the conflict between the NGOs, or is it because the representative of this NGO used references to international laws and treaties in his speech of last year, in which he denounced the war crimes of Israel, and its continuous violations of human rights and the international laws and accords?
* Are zionists and other pro-Israel conspirators inside the UN controlling which politicians are allowed to give speeches and forcing or censoring the contents of their presentations during the United Nations solidarity events and sessions of solidarity with the Palestinian People?
* Is the solidarity with the Palestinians at the UN a meaningless political show?
* How does the United Nations explain the withdrawal of Antonio Maria Costa, the UNOV General-Director, minutes after the start of the solidarity event with the Palestinian people, even before listening to representatives of Palestine, the League of Arab States, the Non-Aligned Movement, and others during this supposed solidarity event with us Palestinians? * Is this a new joke of solidarity or is it a deliberate show of disregard to the event and the attendance, or is it part of the farce taking place in the offices of the United Nations in the absence of press and journalists?
On December 1 2009, I participated in the “Annual Observance of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People”, an event which was held at the office of United Nations in Vienna. I went to the UN event with a good will as a Palestinian and a journalist who had been forced to leave her homeland by the zionists occupation in August 2002. Since I arrived in the hall where the event was held, the small number of participants in the event called my attention. Last year there had been a larger number of representatives taking part. I saw many empty places, with the names of Arab and other countries, and many empty places without names. There were no journalists representing the media in the hall. The presence of NGO’s could be counted with the fingers of one hand!!
What is wrong? I asked myself, then prepared my camera and took my right place.
The event was lead by H.E Mr. Mohd Arshad Bin Manzoor Hussain, Permanent Representative of Malaysia to the United Nations, who opened this official part of the solidarity event. A statement of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon was read by Mr. Antonio Maria Costa, Director-General of the United Nations office in Vienna, and then Dr. Friedrich Stift, representative of Austria as the host country, read a brief. Mr. Costa left the event immediately after this brief, before the representatives of Palestine, Arab countries or NGOs could deliver their statements.
Signs of resentment and discontent were clear on the faces of participants in the event. The statement of the Non-Aligned Movement was read by Ms. Norma Goicochea Estenoz, permanent representative of Cuba, on behalf of the permanent representative of Egypt and the representative of the Chairman of NAM. I saw signs of discontent seemed clear on the face of the Cuban ambassador with the departure of Ambassador Antonio Costa, and his not listening to the speech.
The departure of Mr. Antonio Maria Costa from the solidarity event, immediately after reading the speech of Ban Ki-moon, and the speech of Dr. Friedrich Stift was a clear gesture of disregard towards all the attendees, speakers, the event, and the solidarity with the Palestinian people.
The act of Mr. Antonio Maria Costa was not acceptable to the attendants. The issue of Palestine, and this solidarity event, are not a show in the theater, or a crooked press release from the press office of the UN.
I think that Mr. Antonio Maria Costa would have stayed a whole day and night without a murmur if the solidarity event had been with the “State of Israel”, this zionist institution which has obviously subverted and occupied the offices of the United Nations in the same way as they are occupying Palestine.
The issue of Palestine does not deserve the disdain and disregard ostentatiously put to display by Mr. Costa, and which is shown by all United Nations organizations, whose representatives obviously could not care less about the continued and grave violation of many Security Council and General Assembly resolutions, the continuous violation of the international law, of international humanitarian laws and accords, by the zionist Israeli occupation.
Yesterday, Prof. Dr. Hans Koechler, President of the International Progress Organization (IPO), an international NGO associated with the United Nations Department of Public Information, sent me an e-mail in which he said that it is the responsibility of the Arab member states of the United Nations to find out why the UN administration has decided not to inform or invite the media as well as international non-governmental organizations. The E-mail of Mr. Koechler is quoted below.
Vienna, 3 December 2009
Dear Ms. Salam,
We have received your news releases re. this year’s event on the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.
It is worthy to note that this year, for the first time since the year 1980 (!), the United Nations Office did not send either an invitation or notification about the event. We actually thought that the event had been cancelled or that the tradition of Palestine Day commemoration might have been discontinued by the UN.
It is the responsibility of the Arab member states of the United Nations to find out why the UN administration has decided not to inform or invite the media as well as international non-governmental organizations.
Since 1980, the International Progress Organization has delivered the speech on behalf of international NGOs accredited at the United Nations at least half a dozen times, at the New York headquarters as well as in Vienna. It requires an explanation why the UN administration suddenly has fallen silent and has cut co-operation with NGOs in this matter.
With best regards
In reply to Prof. Dr. Hans Kochler, it should be noted that I called Mr. Lothar Mikulla, an associate information officer at United Nations Information Service (UNIS) on17 November 2009, about quarter to 12, to ask him why he did not answer to my e-mail about the “Annual Observance of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People” dated November 15, 2009 which I sent to his office on that day at 2:34:50 PM. I told Mr. Lothar that many readers asked about this event, the date, and how they could take part in the event of solidarity with Palestinians. I asked him why the United Nations had not posted this information on their website as usual, in 2008 and the years before.
In 2008, the UNIS published an invitation to this event on their website. The invitation was seen and read at the UN web on November 6 2008.
I asked Mr. Mikulla if the United Nations solidarity event with the Palestinian People had been turned into a secret in this year 2009. I asked him if the United Nations forbids the Palestinians themselves, pro-Palestinian persons, interested people and NGOs in Vienna from the participation in this solidarity event with the Palestinian people, and whether their activities take place only between the UN team and specific politicians who are not in any way linked to Palestine and to the Palestinian cause.
I also told him that I would report about their “solidarity” event and post my reports to the UN head-quarter in New York. Mr. Mikulla was not happy to hear my questions. He was polite and a bit more friendly after I told him that I am a journalist, but he had no specific answers. He stated that the exact day of the event was delayed from Nov. 29 2009 to Dec. 1 2009 and that the Embassy of Palestine is in charge of distributing the invitations to the solidarity event of this year. Mr. Mikulla did not answer my questions, and he stayed evasive throughout the conversation. He said that he didn’t have answers and that he would answer to my e-mail when “the persons who are in charge of the event in the United Nations” gave him further information about that. I have received nothing from him or anybody else until today.
From: inquiries <inquiries [at] un [dot] org>
To: K Salam <kawther_salam [at] yahoo [dot] com>
Sent: Sun, December 6, 2009 6:43:58 PM
Subject: Thank you for your inquiry.Greetings from the Public Inquiries Team.
Thank you for taking the time to contact us.
Thank you for your message which has been received at United Nations Headquarters in New York.
Public Inquiries Team
Department of Public Information
I called the Palestinian Ambassador, Dr. Zuheir Elwazer, and I asked him more questions. He stated that the event had been delayed until Dec. 1 2009, because 29 December was on a weekend, and 28 December is Eid Al-Adha. He said that the Palestinian Embassy had distributed 350 invitation, but that the NGOs were to be invited by the United Nations.
Dr. Elwazer stated that the participation of IPO had been excluded by the UN office in New York, who intervened via phone so that the speech for the NGOs should be held by Mr. Fritz Edlinger instead. He added: “according to what Mr. Fritz Edlinger said, the NGO office at the UN in New York called and invited him the give the speech of the NGOs at the solidarity event for Palestine. Mr. Edlinger himself received his invitation very late from the UN office in Vienna. We were obliged to call the UN office to remind them to send Mr. Edlinger the invitation, we left them a message on the answering machine. Mr. Edlinger received the invitation only 24 hours before the event”.
Other people also said that they received the invitation to the solidarity event from the Palestinian Embassy very late. Among them was somebody who expressed his anger, he said “the Embassy should know that we are not jobless so that we can participate in the event without organizing our appointments. At least we should receive the invitation two weeks before the event”.
During the Palestine solidarity event itself, Mr. Fritz Edlinger gave an a wonderful interesting and emotional speech based on the facts on the ground in Palestine. His speech moved everybody. Edlinger is well known among the Palestinian and Arab communities in Vienna, he is seen as very pro-Palestine and he does more than the Palestinian themselves for the Palestinian cause. Note: I will publish the speech of Mr. Edlinger as soon as possible.
Prof. Dr. Hans Koechler is also an excellent speaker on the Palestine issue. He understands the international laws, accords and treaties, furthermore he knows what is going on in the kitchen of UN, in the EU, and with other political groups related to Palestine. The speeches and opinions of Prof. Dr. Koechler are very special and based on international laws. He exposed the scandalous violations of the international laws and double standards of the European politicians and the UN with their silence about the violations of Israel of all laws and peace agreements which have been signed under the observance of the international community, which continue supporting the genocide and the crimes of Israel in Palestine.
During the previous UN solidarity event with Palestinians held on Nov. 27 2008, Prof. Dr. Koechler gave an excellent speech, which made the representatives of some countries unhappy, especially those who support Israel and who participated in the solidarity event to whine that the Palestinian resistance uses stones and describes them as “terrorists”. The strong speech of Prof. Dr. Koechler, in which he exposed the western politicians and the Israeli war crimes in Gaza and the West Bank, shocked the puppets of Israel present at the event and made them very angry. This must be the reason behind banning Prof. Dr. Koechler from the solidarity event of this year. The friends of Israel in the headquarter of the UN have influence over everybody. Read the speech of Prof. Dr. Hans Koechler, which ended his participation at the UN solidarity event with Palestinians.
The approaches of Mr. Koechler and Mr. Edlinger to the Palestinian issue are very different. While Mr. Edlinger has an emotional and personal approach to the issue, Mr. Koechler sees it more from the point of view of laws and treaties, of the framework of international law. Both approaches to our issue are valid and must be recognized and respected, and we Palestinians are certainly grateful to all persons and organizations of all religions and nationalities who have selflessly engaged in our defense.
That the UN would exclude the IPO from the Palestine Solidarity event of this year, apparently because of the protest of the zionists, can only be qualified as unacceptable behavior.
How can the UN, which supposedly has a peace mission, engage in discrimination between supporters of a just peace for Palestinians?
The UN has already done enough damage through its irresponsible handling of the issue over decades, and the exclusion of an NGO from a UN event just because perpetrators do not like to be reminded of laws sanctioning their crimes is certainly not what one would expect from an organization which supposedly serves as a forum for all nations and supposedly holds up certain laws and treaties regarding how nations are supposed to behave.
Following the Issue of “Annual Observance of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People” of 2008 at the UN in Vienna, I found that Gabriela Shalev, who received her post as Israel ambassador to the UN on 3 September 2008, sent a protest against the speeches of the participants and the Petition for Palestine which I directed to the UN Secretary General and handed at that time to Mr. Costa and other diplomats who participated in the event last year of 2008 in Vienna.