Few people have the opportunity as a select group of Hebrew Academy of the Five Towns and Rockaway (HAFTR) High School seniors did to visit the United Nations. To bolster the understanding of foreign relations and Israeli politics that students received in their Zionism class, students took a trip to the UN to begin to understand, firsthand, the process whereby issues are discussed and resolutions get proposed.
Upon arriving at the UN, the chaperone and Zionism teacher, Tuvia Book, escorted the class to an awe-inspiring Marc Chagall stained glass window. Chagall was commissioned by the UN to design a stained glass window to be placed to the right of the entrance in the building, but was not given any other constraints. Book explained how the window had so many distinct parts, and did not merely depict one aspect or event. Interestingly, he pointed out that next to every “pro-Jewish” factor in the building, there was something to counterbalance it. Adjacent to Chagall’s stained glass window stood a statue of a UN official who was killed by members of the Jewish underground group Lehi in Jerusalem during the War of Independence.
HAFTR students then proceeded to a private room to be briefed on the procedures and issues that the Israeli delegation at the U.N. tackles. Danielle Brown, one of the delegation staffers and advisor to Ambassador Ron Prosor, described to the students the main concerns of the UN, and how it deals largely with issues that relate to humanitarian problems. She noted how once Israel used to be “bullied” in the UN; Israel has however radically changed its tactics and has gone on the offensive. Challenging allegations of human rights violations in Israel with actual human rights violations in other nations. After the session, students asked questions with regard to the future tactics of Israel in the UN.