The UN ignores tyranny while condemning democratic Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said during a special Knesset session Monday marking the 40th anniversary of former ambassador to the UN Chaim Herzog’s speech decrying Resolution 3379, which declared that “Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination.”
Herzog famously tore up the resolution at the General Assembly podium, calling it “based on falsehood, hatred and arrogance, is devoid of any moral or legal value. For us, the Jewish people, this is nothing more than a piece of paper, and we will treat it as such.”
Netanyahu, who is also a former ambassador to the UN, called Resolution 3379 an “unprecedented moral nadir” for the organization, which “provided the platform for the libel of racism, turning into an organization that perpetuates the lines of division between states.
“Not only did it not help find solutions, it deepened the conflicts and stood on the side of tyranny against democracy,” he said.
The prime minister said the “Zionism is racism” resolution was a watershed moment in the history of anti-Semitism, in that previously, hatred of Jews arose in one country or another, but this was the first time an international institution was used to that end.
In the 40 years since Herzog’s speech, Netanyahu said, “the impression of deep polarity that was inherent on that day has not been dulled.”
Netanyahu posited that, though the resolution was revoked in 1991, “the trend of hostility to Israel in UN institutions continues to this day. The pattern of automatic votes against Israel continues. There are elements in the UN that seek to condemn us at every opportunity.”
In the past year, the General Assembly passed 20 resolutions against Israel and one against Iran, Netanyahu pointed out.
“This twisted reality will not weaken us,” he stated. “Our roots are stronger than any libel and lying incitement.”
Netanyahu expressed optimism that many countries understand the UN’s bias.
“They want to be closer to us and cooperate with us…and I say to their leaders: The time has come for the good relations between us be reflected in the UN arena as well,” he said.
According to Netanyahu, this message has been received and is reflected in important votes, such as an anti-Israel resolution in the International Atomic Energy Agency, which was voted down by a large majority.
“But when it comes to the UN, there is still a long way to go,” he added.
Similarly, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein said, “the UN proves years later that it is deeply disconnected from what is happening in our region and has a one-sided stance about the conflict here.
“Today, 27 years after the UN canceled its miserable decision to compare Zionism to racism, the UN leads a clear anti-Israel line, which sometimes is almost as bad as that decision about Zionism,” Edelstein stated. “In some ways, nothing has changed in 40 years.”
However, Edelstein added that, like then, Israel does not intend to stand silent while the Jewish people and State of Israel are defamed, and will not stop fighting for justice, morality and its rights, as Herzog did.
Opposition leader Isaac Herzog (Zionist Union) said his father’s speech defended Israel’s values as a democracy.
“Forty years later,” he said, “the State of Israel is fighting for its existence and international standing. To this day, there are still some around the world who seek to destroy us and our spectacular project…To this day, our enemies doubt the justice of our existence and our natural and historic right to self-determination.”
“They didn’t know what BDS was then, but it was the same,” Herzog quipped. “Israel is dealing with terrorism and orchestrated international delegitimization.”
The efforts to fight terrorism cannot allow Israel to change its character and its Jewish and democratic values, he added.
“There are values that cannot be disputed, no matter what attack we are under. We must remember each day what are the values on which the State of Israel was established and by which it acts,” Herzog said, calling Israel’s Declaration of Independence “not only our founding document, but our defensive shield.”
Herzog spoke out against populist and violent discourse, saying it is “making us sometimes forget that Left and Right, religious and secular, we are all Israelis. We all love this country the same amount, we all defend it together and are willing to give our lives for it.
“As my father, may he rest in peace, said in that speech 40 years ago, words that are reinforced today: ‘We will stand as a united front against those who seek to destroy us, and remind all those who seek to boycott us, isolate us and destroy us, that we will not stand idly by in the face of those heinous attempts.”