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32. Mr. Gidor (Israel) said that it would be difficult to exaggerate the importance of the Department of Public Information (DPI) as the most experienced and energetic partner of the Committee on Information in promoting the noble goals of the Organization. As it struggled to be heard alongside many competing narratives, it was disseminating ideals in a world increasingly suspicious of ideology, and in a way that convinced the alarmingly cynical international media of the sincerity of the United Nations efforts. The Department of Public Information was to be commended for its initiatives in improving communications, designing and maintaining the highly effective and user-friendly United Nations website, and modernizing the United Nations library system.
33. DPI had also done admirable work in facilitating the unprecedented twenty-eighth special session of the General Assembly to commemorate the sixtieth anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps held in January 2005 and had made an important contribution to the groundbreaking exhibit on the same subject displayed both in New York and Geneva. Israel itself had, for the first time at the United Nations, proposed the inclusion in the agenda of the sixtieth session, under the heading “Promotion of human rights”, of an item entitled “Holocaust remembrance”. It would be submitting a draft resolution in plenary meeting, sponsored also by Australia, Canada, the Russian Federation and the United States. It would call, inter alia, for an annual United Nations day to commemorate the memories of the victims of the Holocaust, rejecting any form of Holocaust denial, and condemning religious intolerance. Israel considered it to be not merely a statement but an educational initiative, with potential universal application, designed to promote global understanding and mutual tolerance. If the United Nations could assume a greater role in promoting such initiatives, rather than merely providing a forum for international bickering, it would live up to the original ideals of its founding fathers.
34. United Nations mechanisms, including the Department of Public Information, were not immune to cynical exploitation. Despite the improved political climate in the Middle East and the cumulative Israeli gestures of goodwill, for instance, and the efforts of its Under-Secretary-General to introduce more objectivity and even-handedness, his was the only Member State still unfairly singled out for criticism by the Department in various seminars and publications. In Israel’s view, the time had come to abolish the Department’s special information programme on the question of Palestine and to put the Department’s resources to better use by channelling them towards the goal of peace in the Middle East. It was disheartening that the Department did not have one Israeli employee on its staff, an exclusion that militated against a full understanding of the issues in the region. With the image of the United Nations in the Middle East region at a low point, the United Nations should avoid being the purveyor of anachronistic and unhelpful agendas and give an honest, objective presentation of information.
35. An honest portrayal of the truth depended on free information, and all too often regimes in the Middle East and elsewhere exploited the political situation to suppress their press. The Fourth Committee, supported by the Department of Public of Information, should have no qualms about advocating a free press and condemning oppressive controls. Let Israel illustrate the type of transparency that States could emulate. His Government upheld the principle of free information and its citizens consumed information eagerly, with the Internet — widely used by the 74 per cent of Israeli households with a computer — playing a crucial role in cementing the access to information.
36. Not all Governments, however, used information to further the interests of their own subjects or the ideals of harmony on which the United Nations was founded. The Department and the international community must struggle against the use of Government-supported media and educational establishments to incite to hatred, the fuel that powered terrorism.
37. Israel supported the Department’s mandate wholeheartedly and urged it to rise to the enormous challenges that lay ahead.
38. Mr. Alzayani (Bahrain) ...
39. The Department’s information activities on the question of Palestine, to which Bahrain attached particular importance, would continue in the interest of achieving a just solution to the question.
The meeting rose at 12.20 p.m.
This record is subject to correction. Corrections should be sent under the signature of a member of the delegation concerned within one week of the date of publication to the Chief of the Official Records Editing Section, room DC2-750, 2 United Nations Plaza, and incorporated in a copy of the record.
Corrections will be issued after the end of the session, in a separate corrigendum for each Committee.