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        General Assembly
9 January 1998

Fifty-second session
Agenda items 37 and 110

Letter dated 8 January 1998 from the Permanent Representative of
Israel to the United Nations addressed to the Secretary-General

On 11 March 1997, Nabil Ramlawi, the PLO representative to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in Geneva, charged that the Israeli Government had infected 300 Palestinian children with the HIV virus. To this day, no action has been taken by the United Nations to challenge this modern version of anti-Semitic blood libels that were once rampant in medieval Europe.

Since that time there has been increasing evidence of anti-Semitism emerging as an integral part of the rhetoric of Palestinian Authority officials, and they encourage its use in the Palestinian media. It should be emphasized that this vile propaganda is spread through mainstream Palestinian newspapers, public radio and public television, which operate under the license of the Palestinian Authority and with its backing.

Moreover, newspapers like Al-Hayat Al-Jadida or Al-Ayyam have their main editorial offices in areas under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority. They only began operations after the establishment of the Palestinian Authority, under the Oslo Accords, in 1994. These major Palestinian media are, furthermore, managed by individuals who have had leading positions in the PLO or the Fatah organization, such as Nabil Amru, Akram Haniyyah or Radwan Abu-Ayyash. For example, Nabil Amru, the publisher of Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, previously served as the PLO representative in Moscow and as media adviser to Chairman Yasser Arafat; today, Mr. Amru is also a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council. Six recurrent themes are discernible in the examples that follow:

1. Classic anti-Semitic stereotypes

2. Comparisons of Israel with Nazis

3. Denial of the Holocaust

4. Libellous accusations

5. Delegitimizing Israel and the Jewish people

6. Equating Zionism with racism

This is only a partial list.

As the previous quotations demonstrate, repeated reference is made to "the Protocols of the Elders of Zion", and Palestinian Authority newspapers publish stories about Jewish "plots" and Jewish "fangs". Jews are often depicted as power-hungry and lusting after money, with occasional references to Shakespeare's Shylock and The Merchant of Venice as examples of Jewish greed. Palestinian officials have continued to accuse Israel of injecting Palestinians with the AIDS virus, conducting medical experiments on Palestinian prisoners and selling spoiled food to Palestinians. [T]he Palestinian media and Palestinian officials have engaged in Holocaust denial and accused Jews of inflating the number of victims in order to profit from it.

Under the terms of the Oslo Accords and the Protocol Concerning the Redeployment in Hebron, the Palestinian Authority is obligated to refrain from incitement against Israel and to take measures to prevent others from engaging in it. The Interim Agreement on the West Bank and Gaza Strip (Oslo 2) of 28 September 1995 (article XXII) states that Israel and the Palestinian Authority "shall seek to foster mutual understanding and tolerance and shall accordingly abstain from incitement, including hostile propaganda, against each other and, without derogating from the principle of freedom of expression, shall take legal measures to prevent such incitement by any organizations, groups or individuals within their jurisdiction."

Recognizing that the language of incitement was continuing to be used by leading officials in the Palestinian Authority during 1996, the Israeli Government insisted upon a reaffirmation of this commitment when it completed negotiations over Israel's redeployment in Hebron. In the Note for the Record that accompanied the Hebron Protocol of 17 January 1997, the Palestinians reaffirmed their commitment regarding "preventing incitement and hostile propaganda, as specified in article XXII of the Interim Agreement". It was hoped that this renewed commitment would lead to a change in the tone of Palestinian statements during 1997, but these statements only seemed to worsen.

As a democracy, Israel understands the value of freedom of the press as well as freedom of expression. But when an Israeli extremist, from the periphery of Israeli society, put up sacrilegious posters that were deeply offensive to Islam, a Jerusalem district court just recently showed no reluctance to act firmly and convict that individual of violating Israeli law. The Palestinian Authority has demonstrated its willingness to take action against those with whom it disagrees on far less serious matters than racism and incitement, such as Daoud Kuttab of a Palestinian film production company, Othman Halaq of the pro-Jordanian Al-Nahar newspaper and Maher al-Alami, editor of Al-Quds. Palestinian security services acted against each of these individuals. In the case of Palestinian anti-Semitism, the Palestinian Authority's inaction can only be interpreted as a clear expression of approval.

In many cases, there is widespread ignorance about these trends in the Palestinian Authority. In other cases, this development is greeted with apathy. The silence of the international community in the face of this anti-Semitic hate campaign is intolerable. As a nation that has witnessed how incitement and racism can serve as precursors for physical destruction, Israel condemns this renewed anti-Semitism in the strongest of terms and finds it to represent a major impediment to peace and reconciliation, to which Israel remains committed.

I should be grateful if you would have the text of the present letter circulated as a document of the General Assembly under agenda items 37 and 110.

(Signed) Dore GOLD
Permanent Representative



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