yad vashem star 88.
(photo credit: )
On January 27 more than 1,000 Jews came to the United Nations General Assembly to mark the UN's first annual "International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust." Only a month earlier, the same hall had been filled with UN member states repeatedly demonizing the Jewish state. What is going on?
One answer might be: the secretary-general bought himself and his organization some goodwill at very little cost; Israel's Foreign Ministry had a plus instead of the usual minus; the na ve and neglected victims of anti-Semitism enjoyed warm feelings of recognition on a global scale.
This answer is suggested by the tug-of-war behind the drafting of the UN resolution establishing Holocaust Remembrance Day, which left out the words "anti-Semitism" and "Israel." It only managed to include the word "Jewish" in the preamble, without specifying the number of Jews who perished "along with countless members of other minorities." At the same time, the idea of a resolution dedicated to anti-Semitism - which would have been the first ever in the General Assembly's 60-year history - was yet again a non-starter.
There is, however, another way of looking at the UN's Holocaust event. Elderly Holocaust survivors with terrible personal stories and the courage to tell them, surrounded by dedicated educators from Yad Vashem and elsewhere, brought their dignity and strength like lifelines to an organization adrift from its original moorings. Israeli Ambassador Danny Gillerman said he had received hundreds of messages from survivors and their families who were comforted by the thought of enlightenment on a global scale.
Related events at UN headquarters also brought profound emotion. With a large photograph of Daniel Pearl in the background, his father Judea recounted how he had lost both his son and his grandparents. Daniel's last words were "My father is Jewish, my mother is Jewish, I am Jewish," before being brutally murdered by terrorists professing to be good Muslims. His grandparents had been murdered in Auschwitz 60 years before.
The Jewish people today are a remnant population. All Jews are survivors, in a sense, but some with the most direct experience of genocide no doubt lightened their load by sharing the burden of remembering with others. New spirits also might have been touched by ceremonies held to mark Holocaust Remembrance Day in other places, such as Germany and Kenya.
But this benefit bore a cost: a wedge driven between Jews and the Jewish state. The UN remains the leading global purveyor of anti-Semitism directed at Israel today. Jews who died 60 years ago are easier to mourn than those murdered as citizens of Israel, particularly when justifications for the latter are driven by UN fallacies.
According to the UN, Israel is the world's top human rights violator. Only last December the General Assembly adopted 19 resolutions critical of Israel's human rights record, and 12 resolutions critical of human rights in the other 190 UN states combined. A draft General Assembly resolution focusing on the Sudan, where almost 200,000 have been killed in the past three years and two million more displaced, was defeated.
Thirty percent of all resolutions of the UN Human Rights Commission critical of specific states over four decades have been directed at Israel alone. But there has never been a single resolution condemning human rights violations in places like China, Saudi Arabia or Zimbabwe. Such demonization is not an abstraction. Combined with the inability of the UN to define terrorism, it is lethal.
THE STRIKING contrast between the events of December and January were no doubt apparent to General Assembly President Jan Eliasson, who did not manage to mention the words "Jew," "anti-Semitism," or "Israel" in his Holocaust Remembrance Day speech. He referred instead to "the sites where the lives of millions of people were extinguished on political, religious or ethnic grounds."
But at least he showed up - or more precisely had the Acting General Assembly President deliver a speech in his name. Representatives of most of the UN member states were nowhere to be found in the largely Jewish audience.
The visitor to the Yad Vashem museum moves from the darkness of the Holocaust memorial to the sun on the Jerusalem hillside. The message is clear without a word being spoken. Not so at the UN.
THE TRUTH is that the attempted genocide of the Jewish people has continued for the past 57 years. Since the day of Israel's birth, originally sanctioned by the United Nations, its Jewish inhabitants have faced the constant threat of annihilation. Wars threatening Israel with extinction occurred in 1948, 1956, 1967 and 1973, and prolonged assaults from terrorists and their state sponsors have characterized the decades since, until today.
The 20,000 Israeli dead over this time are the proportional equivalent to 700,000 American victims. Citizens of a Jewish state have endured 57 years of mandatory military service for every young man and woman, with men forced to continue reserve duty into middle age in order to protect their families and their future.
In this war against the self-determination of the Jewish people, the UN is an accomplice. It is the UN that strives to distinguish anti-Semitism against individual Jews from discrimination, incitement and rejection of the Jewish state. As the repository for universal equality rights and the principle of non-discrimination, the UN failure to understand and denounce all forms of anti-Semitism matters.
Instead of recognizing Jew-hatred, the UN foments it. Instead of championing Jewish self-determination, the UN leads the global movement to undermine it. UN conferences, Web sites and publications regularly include comparisons of Israel to Nazi Germany or apartheid South Africa.
Israel is a second-class citizen at the UN, as the only country not fully admitted to any one of the UN's five strategic regional groups.
Instead of supporting Israel's right of self-defense against its mortal enemies, the UN constantly attempts to tie Israeli hands. Defensive actions, from a non-violent security fence to the killing of unlawful combatants, are routinely denounced by the secretary-general as illegal.
Instead of identifying the terrorist enemy of civilized society, the UN gives him sustenance. To this day the UN has no definition of terrorism. On the contrary, it nurtures the fiction that Israeli occupation is the root cause of the Arab-Israeli conflict, and demonizes the terrorists' Jewish target.
In the Holocaust, the Jewish family lost so many that most of an entire generation suffered direct personal loss. Any means by which the few remaining direct survivors can cope with the horrors they endured deserves respect. But the attempted genocide against Israeli Jews - "Zionocide" - is a current reality. No decent person can afford to ignore it, even if the UN does.
Instituting a Holocaust remembrance event without demanding that the UN stop encouraging Zionocide provides a cruel smokescreen for UN-based anti-Semitism. Such anti-Semitism is thriving, regardless of the UN's sudden awakening from a prolonged amnesia about Jewish deaths six decades ago.
The writer is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, a professor at Touro Law School, and editor of www.EyeOnTheUN.org.