Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s outrageous comments equating Zionism with “crimes against humanity” such as anti-Semitism, fascism and Islamophobia have largely been left unchallenged by leading global leaders.
The world’s tepid response appears to be the lamentable product of a sustained and largely successful delegitimization effort, at least since the UN General Assembly’s infamous 1975 Resolution 3379, which singled out one form of nationalism – the Jewish variety – as “a form of racism and racial discrimination.”
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was present when Erdogan made his remarks last Wednesday in Vienna during the fifth Global Forum of the UN Alliance of Civilizations, a body that according to its website has the objective of stemming the trend of “mutual distrust, fear and polarization prevalent in recent years particularly between the Islamic world and the West.”
Ban refrained from denouncing Erdogan when he made the remarks, nor did he walk out. The next day the secretary-general did say through a spokesman that Erdogan’s statement was “hurtful and divisive.”
But the head of the UN failed to note that his predecessor Kofi Annan recognized the Zionism-is-racism resolution as an expression of anti-Semitism and welcomed its repeal in 1991 after the collapse of the Soviet Union – and of its influence over the UN.
And all that US Secretary of State John Kerry mustered in his criticism of Erdogan was the following response: “We not only disagree with it, we found it objectionable.”
The failure on the part of Ban, Kerry and other world leaders to seriously confront Erdogan appears to be part of the liberal Left’s intellectual bankruptcy and unreliable moral compass.
As Jerusalem Post columnist Gil Troy noted in his new book, Moynihan’s Moment, when the UN passed Resolution 3379 nearly four decades ago, the Left was very different.
Even Israel’s harshest critics such as Noam Chomsky acknowledged in 1975 the “profound hypocrisy” of a UN resolution that equated Zionism alone with racism “given the nature of the states that backed it.”
Autocratic Arab countries and totalitarian Soviet-bloc states had no business singling out Israel for censure, Chomsky rightly argued. When America’s ambassador to the UN, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, eloquently and emotionally declared, “The lie is that Zionism is a form of racism; the overwhelmingly clear truth is that it is not,” he was enthusiastically supported by leading civil rights leaders such as president of the National Urban League Vernon Jordan, Black Panther leader Eldridge Cleaver, labor organizer Cesar Chavez and feminist Betty Friedan.
Unfortunately, if Resolution 3379 were passed by the UN General Assembly today, it is highly unlikely that the new generation of left-wing activists would rally to Israel’s side, not because Israel has changed but because the Left has changed.
Many on the New Left have betrayed their defining ideals, especially regarding human rights. Traditional liberalism spread enlightenment by operating consistently, rationally, and even-handedly regardless of the cultural context. If fundamental civil rights were being trampled, it did not matter who was the perpetrator and who was the victim. It was the principle that mattered. But the New Left that began to develop in the 1960s has different, warped criteria for what constitutes justice.
Suddenly identity is all-important. Who you are determines whether you deserve justice or condemnation.
Tom Doran, a self-described non-Jewish Welsh Zionist who once belonged to the Israel-bashing Left, described the New Left succinctly in a recent essay that appeared in The Jewish Journal. Doran noted that the roots of left-wing geopolitical theory revolve around three questions: “Which side is the United States on? Which side has all the money/weaponry? Which side, overall, has lighter skin? Where all three questions generate the same [positive] answer, that answer is The Enemy.”
And this sea change that has taken place among “liberals” of the Left has had a major impact on perceptions in mainstream politics.
The forces of true liberalism defeated Resolution 3379.
But, as evidenced by Erdogan’s outrageous statements and the lack of outrage in international reactions, the iniquity of the “Zionism is racism” legacy lives on.