Israel Tells UN to Strike ‘Nakba’ From Lexicon

Israel Tells UN to Strike ‘Nakba’ From Lexicon
Mohammed Mar’i, Arab News

RAMALLAH, West Bank, 17 May 2008 — Israel is demanding that the UN strike the word “Nakba” from its lexicon after an official communique released by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s bureau made specific reference to the word “Nakba.” Nakba, or catastrophe, refers to the tragic events that followed Israel’s inception in 1948.

The Israeli Radio quoted Ban’s spokeswoman as saying in a press conference that the UN secretary-general “phoned Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to stress his support for the Palestinian people on Nakba Day.”

Danny Carmon, Israel’s deputy ambassador to the UN, told the radio that the term “Nakba is a tool of Arab propaganda used to undermine the legitimacy of the establishment of the State of Israel, and it must not be part of the lexicon of the UN.”

The report said that Ban himself was also surprised by the controversy created by his gesture, as he was not aware that the use of the term was unacceptable to Israel and is a part of the Palestinian propaganda against it.

According to the daily Yediot Ahronot, the UN said the word had not been used by any of the world body’s institutions or officials before, and it is estimated that it was purposely ‘planted’ by someone into the spokeswoman’s text. Yediot said that Ban has been supportive of Israel since taking office in 2006, but has recently been pressed by the Arab world to adopt a more balanced approach.

Meanwhile, US President George W. Bush ended his three-day visit to Israel by visiting the Bible Lands Museum and held discussion with a group of Israeli youth leaders. Bush told the group “what’s on my mind is peace. I believe it’s possible. I know it will happen when young people put their minds together.”

According to Israeli media sources, Bush also told them that just as the US changed its treatment of minorities, he hoped that Israeli society could also change the way it treats its minorities.

Israeli President Shimon Peres said that Bush’s visit generated much excitement, like of which Israel hasn’t experienced for many years. “The state of Israel seemed to have forgotten how to get excited,” Peres told Israel Radio at Ben Gurion Airport.

He said it was an exciting week from many perspectives, stressing that the Bush visit and the “Facing Tomorrow” conference, were a successful hasbara (public diplomacy), coup for Israel and demonstrated the country’s recent developments.

Peres went on to say that he was a little surprised by the US president’s Knesset speech on Thursday in which he came out so staunchly in support of Israel. “If any Israeli has any doubt to the value of Bush’s remarks, he should try and listen to them with Arab ears, then he will understand the power of the speech,” said the president.

Peres said Bush’s message to “terrorists” was crystal clear. “The message was that we are not scared of you, we are more than you, we are stronger than you and don’t think you can do whatever you want. The strongest message was that we are 307 million, not two isolated nations of seven million and 300 million.”

During the Knesset address, Bush had said, “Israel’s population may be just over 7 million. But when you confront terror and evil, you are 307 million strong, because America stands with you.”

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