Some 5,000 demonstrators gathered outside the Permanent Mission of France to the United Nations in New York on Thursday to express their support for Israel ahead of an international conference on Middle East peace set to be held on January 15.
The gathering was sponsored by The North American Coalition for Israel, which is made up of over fifty organizations. Under the banner “Shame on the UN,” public figures, clergy members and victims of terrorist attacks gathered together with members of the Jewish community, demanding that the United Nations “immediately cease its unjust targeting of Israel and focus on real issues such as Syrian Genocide and Global Islamic Terror.”
Event organizer Hillary Markowitz of the Amcha organization, told The Jerusalem Post ahead of the event that the rally had several purposes.
“The UN, [US President Barack] Obama and [US Secretary of State John] Kerry have really been attacking Israel,” she said, slamming the recent UN Security Council resolution against Israel as an “abomination.”
“We are asking the US to stop funding the UN until it does what it’s supposed to do,” she said.
“We will NOT allow the UN and her gang of Israel haters to target Israel unjustifiably,” read a Facebook invitation to the event. “NO MORE Anti-Israel documents or resolutions! The UN’s attempt to revise and erase Jewish history is deplorable. We call on the UN to focus on REAL issues such as Syrian Genocide and Global Islamic Terror instead of vilifying Israel unjustly.”
Markowitz said the choice of location was due to the upcoming parley in Paris “where they will try to force Israel to go back to the pre-67 borders – Jerusalem no longer belongs to Jews and Christians and we are standing out there with our Christian and Jewish brothers to say it’s ridiculous.”
“The conference itself is a preamble to the UN – then they will try to get a resolution,” she said.
Israel has said that it sees the French-led conference as an effort to impose a settlement on it, and that it will not take part.
Markowitz also said, on the heels of Sunday’s terrorist attack in Jerusalem which took the lives of four young Israeli soldiers, that she believes that the aforementioned US, UN and international moves have emboldened the terrorists.
The rally was organized by the organizations StandWithUs, Amcha, Strength to Strength and Fuel for Truth.
Meanwhile in Israel, a group of left-wing public figures and former ambassadors made a show of support for the Paris conference.
Former ambassadors Prof. Eli Barnavi and Ilan Baruch, Prof. Galia Golan and activist Susie Becher presented a petition backing the French initiative, to French Ambassador to Israel Helene Le Gal during a meeting with her at the French Embassy in Tel Aviv.
The petition was signed by some 1200 Israeli activists in the past few days and those who delivered it requested that it be passed on to the French Foreign Ministry and to French President Francois Hollande.
“We are sorry that we have to use this initiative,” said the initiators. “In fact, those who were supposed to come to the French Embassy were the official representatives of the Israeli government, who should have coordinated the details of the participation of the Israeli Foreign Minister in the conference – that is Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“Unfortunately the current Israeli government has decided not only to boycott the conference but to spew baseless hate speech at the French government.”
Hollande invited Netanyahu to meet with him and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Paris the day after the conference, but the Israeli prime minister said he would only come if the conference was dropped.
“We urge the conference to call for the acceptance of Palestine as a full member of the United Nations, thus creating a more balanced basis for Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations,” the petition reads.
“As Israeli citizens, we are confident that UN Security Council Resolution 2334, the remarks made by US Secretary of State John Kerry, and the anticipated resolutions of the Paris Peace Conference will help serve Israel’s existential interests, security and future prosperity.”
Among the signatories are Nobel Prize laureate Daniel Kahneman, former attorney-general Michael Ben-Yair, former minister Yair Saban, five former Israeli ambassadors, hundreds of academics, artists and cultural figures.