Ahmadinejad speaks in NY.
(photo credit: Associated Press)
Recent WikiLeaks cables reveal that diplomats at the UN are haunted by a thorny
question: How much UN-driven anti-Semitism is too much? The original UN was
built on the ashes of the Jewish people and owes its human rights foundations to
the victims of the Holocaust. At today’s UN, we have now learned,
diplomats hunker down near the General Assembly hall “listening outside with
headphones on” trying to figure out the extent of the hate-speech that those on
the inside should endure before walking out.
The particular subject of
the WikiLeaks cable from US officials in Stockholm was a September 2009 assembly
speech by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Sweden held the EU’s rotating
presidency, and it fell upon Swedish diplomats to decide when Ahmadinejad had
crossed pre-arranged “red lines.” As it turned out, some EU members walked out
of the speech, while Sweden stayed put. According to the cable, the Swedes were
upset by the “embarrassing lack of EU coordination” – not by the bigotry
broadcast over the UN global megaphone.
What had the Europeans confused
would seem to be Jewish conspiracy theory 101. Ahmadinejad had used his UN
platform to describe Jews as “a small minority [who] dominate the politics,
economy and culture of major parts of the world by its complicated networks, and
establish a new form of slavery... to attain its racist ambitions.” Yet this
roused a mere 11 of the UN’s 192 members from their seats, including the
US. Israel had chosen not to attend.
Five months earlier in April
2009, Ahmadinejad had mounted another UN-provided stage in Geneva and began by
denying the Holocaust, claiming that the “Zionist regime” had been created
“under the pretext of Jewish sufferings.” At this “antiracism” gathering (dubbed
“Durban 2”) he continued: “The word Zionism personifies racism that falsely
resorts to religion and abuses religious sentiments to hide their hatred and
ugly faces.” This time UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay and UN
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon remained glued to their chairs. Nine states,
including the US and Israel, had decided to boycott beforehand, while the
remaining EU states and a few others belatedly got up and left.
September 2010 Ahmadinejad used his UN invitation to New York to suggest that
9/11 was an inside job – “segments within the US government orchestrated the
attack” for the sake of “the Zionist regime.” On this occasion seven countries,
including the US, headed for the doors. Israel had previously figured out it was
not worth going.
PLAYING MUSICAL chairs is not the only response to
UN-based anti- Semitism. The vast majority listen attentively and many
applaud. Sometimes no one moves at all. On June 8, 2010, the Syrian
representative lectured the UN Human Rights Council: “Israel... is a state that
is built on hatred... Let me quote a song that a group of children on a school
bus in Israel sing merrily as they go to school and I quote ‘With my teeth I
will rip your flesh. With my mouth I will suck your blood.’”
administration, which chose to join this council, had a representative present,
and neither he nor any other council member budged. UN officials, who routinely
interrupt anything they deem insulting to Muslim states, said
Years of UN-driven anti-Semitism have clearly deadened the nerve
endings of democracies. On November 29 and 30, 2010 the UN General Assembly
sponsored its annual UN Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People followed
by the usual anti- Israel agenda items.
From center stage in New York via
Libya and Syria came the following: “Zionism, in reality, is the worst form of
racism”; “The cancerous settlement in all the Palestinian territories”; “Israel
shows and rears its ugly face”; “The word Israel has become synonymous with
words such as aggression, killing, racism, terrorism.”
voiced their opposition to “Judaization” – UN vocabulary for the crime of any
Jew on any Arab territory. They bellowed about Israeli “butchering,”
“apartheid,” “ethnic cleansing,” “genocide,” “racism,” “brutality,” “crimes
against humanity,” “torture,” “killing in cold blood” and “barbarism.” Guilt
started “over 60 years ago” – that is, with Israel’s creation.
not have been difficult for listeners to discern that the fabrication of a
cancerous Jewish state with its bloodthirsty ugly Jewish occupants was
anti-Semitism. But not a single country moved. No UN gavel interrupted the
speakers. Just the diplomatic niceties of thanking and bowing before Mr.
President and Mr. Ambassador, and excellencies and distinguished
By the end of a year of double-standards, discrimination and
hate-mongering 80 percent of all 2010 General Assembly resolutions criticizing
specific countries for human rights violations were directed at the Jewish
state. Only six of the remaining 191 UN member states faced human rights
criticism at all, one of which was the US. And now half of the country-specific
condemnatory resolutions and decisions ever adopted by the UN Human Rights
Council target Israel.
THIS YEAR will be worse, as UN headquarters
prepares to host the first summit of “heads of state and government” on racism
in September. “Durban 3,” named after its notorious 2001 namesake that
took place in Durban, South Africa, is aimed at “mobilizing political
will...for the full and effective implementation of the Durban
Declaration.” This declaration charges Israel with racism and names no
In contrast to Durban 1 and 2 which were attended by very
few world leaders, Durban 3 is intended to be the golden ticket for Ahmadinejad
and company to promote Zionism is racism. From a New York podium, a few days
after the 10th anniversary of 9/11, they will also instruct Americans about
tolerance. Though Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper has refused to
attend, Obama is still undecided.
In June 1979 Pope John Paul II made a
nine-day pilgrimage to Poland, documented in a moving recent film Nine Days that
Changed the World. With the power of faith and moral conviction he appealed to
millions for change, turning the Soviet empire inside out. What a contrast to
the European Union representatives of today hiding in UN halls with their
earphones, and the Obama administration confounded about whether to come or
Where are the world leaders of our time who are prepared to challenge
and repudiate with the power of faith and moral conviction a UN empire that is a
shell of Eleanor Roosevelt’s vision and inimical to our dearest values? The
writer is the director of the Touro Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust
and a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute.