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No mention of Israel in UN General Assembly head’s Passover message

Dennis Francis called the holiday a “season of rebirth and renewal, the triumph of hope and faith.”

Dennis Francis, president of the 78th session of the General Assembly, briefs reporters on the conclusion of U.N. General Assembly Sustainability Week on April 19, 2024. Credit: Rick Bajornas/U.N. Photo.
Dennis Francis, president of the 78th session of the General Assembly, briefs reporters on the conclusion of U.N. General Assembly Sustainability Week on April 19, 2024. Credit: Rick Bajornas/U.N. Photo.

One of the central passages in the Passover liturgy is “Next year in Jerusalem.”

That Zionist hope went unsaid during a Passover greeting that Dennis Francis, president of the U.N. General Assembly, issued earlier this week.

Francis, who is also the U.N. ambassador for Trinidad and Tobago, universalized the holiday rather than addressing its deep ties to the Jewish homeland.

“Passover is a season of rebirth and renewal, the triumph of hope and faith. It is also a time of reflection and remembrance,” he said. “The call of Passover is one of unyielding resolve to look beyond the current moment and work decisively, together, for a more peaceful tomorrow.”

He also called for a “successful observance of Passover.”

Francis’s country has consistently voted against Israel over the last decade and a half at the United Nations. Under his leadership, the General Assembly has assailed Israel, passing resolutions labeling the Jewish state an occupier—in the very land that the Passover story described them entering and being given by God.

Dennis Francis
Dennis Francis, president of the 78th session of the General Assembly, walks down from the dais to deliver a closing message during the meeting of the U.N. General Assembly on global stocktaking of sustainable energy for all on April 19, 2024. Credit: Rick Bajornas/U.N. Photo.

Earlier this year, the General Assembly, which represents all 193 U.N. member states, asked the International Court of Justice—the principal U.N. judicial arm based in The Hague—to consider what legal consequences Israel should face for its “occupation” of what the assembly calls Palestinian territory, including the Temple Mount and the Jewish Quarter in Jerusalem. (The Temple Mount contains the holiest site in Judaism.)

Francis was one of a handful of U.N. figures who supported Israel initially after Hamas’s Oct. 7 terror attack. He called for the terror organization to free the hostages, a key to ending the war.

“It’s absolutely necessary that all the hostages be released at once,” he said in late November. “Because this is the core. This is the core of the current situation.”

Notably, his country abstained on a 2017 General Assembly resolution declaring America’s resolution of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital to be invalid.

But at a time of surging antisemitism, Francis’s Passover message was a universal one, when other leaders, including U.S. President Joe Biden, referred to Oct. 7 and Jew-hatred in their Passover messages.

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