Israel irked by diplomat's tacit Nazi remark

Associated Press

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Israel's U.N. ambassador on Monday denounced a U.N. agency head for tacitly comparing the Jewish state to Nazi Germany and has demanded her suspension.

Israeli Ambassador Ron Prosor castigated Rima Khalaf, the head of the Arab-oriented Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia, and called on the Secretary-General to suspend her.

In a speech in late February, Khalaf referred to "Israel's adamancy that it is a Jewish State, which violates the rights of both the Muslim and Christian indigenous populations and revives the concept of state ethnic and religious purity, which caused egregious human suffering during the 20th century."

U.N. diplomats generally refer to massive "human suffering during the 20th century" as a way of referring to the Holocaust without having to name Hitler in every speech, or gratuitously slur Germany, a major U.N. member state, every time the issue comes up.

Khalaf, who is Jordanian, 'did not name Nazi Germany or make a specific comparison. The Holocaust would be one obvious inference from her speech, though there were many ethnic and religious purges, massacres and wars in the 20th century.

She clearly had issues with Israel, as she also said in her Feb. 25 speech in Tunis, "Foreign interference comes in various forms, such as violations of Arab rights and dignity, but its worst manifestation is the Israeli occupation of Palestine, the Syrian Golan Heights and Lebanese territories, in flagrant breach of international conventions and resolutions."

Khalaf was introducing a report on development in Western Asia, and said: "The authors of the report claim that the damage caused by Israeli policies is not limited to occupation activities, but they believe that aggressive Israeli policies, including its support for discord aimed at establishing Arab sectarian mini-States and its nuclear program that is not subject to international monitoring, pose a continuous threat to the security of Arab citizens in the region as a whole."

Prosor called on Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to suspend her and said, "It is unacceptable that inflammatory anti-Israel messages continue to be produced under the banner of the United Nations and using U.N. resources. By demonizing Israel, Ms. Khalaf is advancing a personal agenda rather than furthering the cause of peace or advancing regional Arab development.  Senior U.N. officials should lead by example and demonstrate tolerance rather than prejudice."

View Comments (1126)