- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 4, 2008

NEW YORK | A paraphrased quote from Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” may cost a prominent Jewish charity its 36-year recognition by the United Nations.

A coalition of developing nations on Tuesday night threatened to strip the World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ) of its U.N. accreditation after the group’s Geneva representative warned that “something is rotten” in the U.N. Human Rights Council (HRC).

At a recent session of the council, convened to discuss Israel’s purported violations of the rights of the Palestinian people, WUPJ human rights representative David G. Littman tried to read aloud the paragraph of the Hamas charter refusing to recognize the state of Israel.

Romanian Ambassador Doru Costea, president of the HRC, repeatedly cut him off, telling Mr. Littman to address the subject: Israel’s violation of Palestinian rights. With his time at the podium running out, an exasperated Mr. Littman ad libbed from Hamlet: “There is a general malaise in the air, a feeling that something is rotten in the state of this council.”

After an outcry from the 118-member Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), the WUPJ circulated a written apology to “those who felt offended” by the remarks.

Tuesday night, NAM leader Cuba, joined by Qatar and Egypt, complained that the apology was unacceptable and therefore WUPJ should be stripped of its credentials.

“We are truly dissatisfied,” the Cuban representative said. “We do not see this organization’s intention to offer a sincere apology. We see a clear violation of [HRC rules and] believe this committee should take a stand.”

The representative of Qatar added: “He said there was a rotten smell in the council. … The apology was not sincere, open or formal. This is unacceptable. This is unjustified and politically motivated.”

The credentials committee on nongovernmental organizations could vote Wednesday morning to revoke WUPJ’s U.N. accreditation for all meetings related to economic and social issues for the offense. WUPJ, which has been recognized by the United Nations for 36 years, is active on issues including those relating to women, children, health, social justice and Israel. The Jerusalem-based organization is an umbrella group representing 1,200 reform, liberal, progressive and reconstructionist congregations in 42 countries.

None of the representatives speaking against the WUPJ mentioned it by name, referring only to “the organization.”

“We don’t really know what will happen today,” WUPJ President Rabbi Uri Regev told The Washington Times. “This is almost unprecedented.”

None of the diplomats who spoke for or against the WUPJ on Tuesday defended the merits of Mr. Littman’s attempted remarks — that Hamas, by advocating the destruction of the Jewish state, was effectively advocating genocide.

“I must profess, I don’t have a strong opinion on this,” said Brian Young, an adviser at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, who asked the committee to delay a vote so all the facts could be gathered. He said that the WUPJ apology appeared to be sincere, and warned against silencing accredited nongovernmental organizations.

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