ANTI-SEMITISM: A FIGHT FOR THE UN?
“The fight against anti-Semitism is a fight for all of us.”
– Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon, January 22, 2015
UN Watch, Lisa Bertel, December 23 2016
In January 2015, the UN General Assembly held its first-ever informal meeting on anti-Semitism. The sharp spike in anti-Semitism and anti-Semitic violence around the world, particularly vivid in the attack on the Kosher supermarket in Paris the same month, led Israel and 37 other nations to request the meeting. In a video message, Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon welcomed the meeting, emphasizing that the United Nations has “a duty to speak out against anti-Semitism” if it “wants to be true to its founding aims and ideals.” The message was recently reiterated on the forum on global anti-Semitism on September 7, 2016, a follow-up meeting to the 2015 gathering.
WHAT HAS BEEN DONE?
What has the United Nations done ever since the Secretary-General announced the fight against anti-Semitism as a core value of the UN? In this study, I assess the UN’s actions on anti-Semitism by looking into the various documents issued by its human rights machinery. Of particular importance are the Human Rights Council, the UN’s main intergovernmental body dedicated to human rights issues, and the treaty bodies, committees of independent experts who monitor the implementation of human rights treaties. They represent the UN’s tools to monitor, address and act against human rights violations, including anti-Semitism. UN resolutions are also a crucial indicator.
Our research presents us with 71 different official UN documents, published since January 2015 on the organization’s online database for UN documents. The documents come from a variety of sources and include reports, resolutions, recommendations, etc. NGO statements are excluded from our pool. We searched for the keyword “anti-Semitism” or “anti-Semitic” in its different ways of spelling. These terms appear in the documents in varying frequency: in some, they appear only once, in others in a side note, or are discussed over several paragraphs. The following overview shows what sort of documents are issued by different UN mechanisms. A substantial assessment will follow thereafter.
- 42% of the documents come from the Human Rights Council. Most of them are issued by the council’s state-driven review mechanism called “Universal Periodic Review” (19 documents). The Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance provides 7 documents.
- 41% are issued by different treaty bodies, committees of independent experts who monitor the implementation of human rights treaties. The vast majority of reports comes from the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, and the Human Rights Committee, which is dedicated to civil and political rights.
- 8% are resolutions of the General Assembly.
- 8% are reports of the Secretary-General.
Sixty-eight percent of the documents are country-specific, meaning that they present reports or remarks that are concerned with one member state in particular. Most of them are related to either the aforementioned treaty bodies or to the Universal Periodic Review, a process in which the human rights record of each member state is scrutinized.
When and which state is being examined depends on the cycle and the treaty or mechanism under which the review takes place. Remarkably, the country-specific documents which address anti-Semitism concern almost exclusively European and other Western countries such as the Netherlands, Sweden, Poland, USA and Ireland, with only a few exceptions (Argentina, Colombia, Lebanon and Russia).
Even though Europe has recently seen a revival of this oldest hatred, with an increase in anti-Semitic attacks and chants of anti-Jewish slogans on the street, it is nowadays the Middle East and North Africa, where anti-Semitic attitudes and open hatred is strongest.
This is not to imply that the UN should drop its focus on European anti-Semitism, yet it is astonishing that the countries where such attitudes are most widespread are spared from scrutiny, criticism and recommendations for counteracting the hate.
The attention on Western countries cannot be pinned to the cyclical progression of the review. States like Turkey, Syria, Kuwait or Iraq were also addressed in the same period, and could have been given the chance for scrutiny, but have not been subjected to criticism on their anti-Semitic records.
That the documents are issued by the United Nations does not mean that one of its institutions or mechanisms raised the topic of anti-Semitism. In fact, 42 documents of the 71 contain information on anti-Semitism that is either provided by a member state, a non-governmental organization, a national human rights institution or an international organization such as the Council of Europe. Hence, material that has been provided by external actors led to the mentioning of anti-Semitism in 59% of the cases.
In several documents, the topic is not raised with a critical or alarming intent. In 19 of them, “anti-Semitism” was only mentioned in the context of praising the effort and commitment of state institutions and mechanisms to combat this modern scourge, or to commend steps taken. One report on Germany even laments the country’s supposed readiness to fight anti-Semitism in comparison to its weaker efforts against anti-Muslim racism.
WHAT THE RESOLUTIONS TELL US ABOUT ANTI-SEMITISM AND THE UNITED NATIONS
We counted six UN resolutions which include anti-Semitism. One of them is a draft resolution, the other five are resolutions issued and adopted by the General Assembly. Two of them are on “Freedom of religion or belief”; another two on “Combating glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and other practices that contribute to fueling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance”; and finally there is one entitled “A global call for concrete action for the total elimination of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance and the comprehensive implementation of and follow-up to the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action.”
These resolutions stand out for their redundancy. The resolutions on freedom of religion and the one on Nazism each adopt identical wording in consecutive years. They emphasize “deep concern” and recognize the rise in anti-Semitic violence among other forms of intolerance.
The annual repetitive phrasing of the resolutions is common in UN texts. The resolutions are revealing when it comes to the UN’s understanding and conceptualization of anti-Semitism. By repeatedly placing the term among the constellation “Islamophobia, anti-Semitism and Christianophobia and prejudices against persons of other religions or beliefs,” the resolutions suggest anti-Semitism to be a form of religious prejudice. Even the resolution on racism remains unclear when stating to combat “xenophobia, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism and incitement to national or ethnic and religious hatred” as its goal.
In order to effectively and comprehensively fight anti-Semitism, it is necessary to start off by understanding what anti-Semitism actually is. Even though anti-Semitic attacks often target religious institutions such as synagogues or people who openly display religious symbols such as the kippah, its motivation is generally not to be found in a dismissal of the Jewish religion or Jewish practices. After all, Hitler did not persecute and execute European Jewry because he disapproved of their belief in a different god, but because he imagined them to be a race with the power and intention to destroy Germany and the world.
What anti-Semitic individuals or organized groups attack is an imagined evil, a projected conspiratorial and global power embodied in “the Jews” and, more recently, the Israeli state. Hence, when Ban Ki-moon, in his introductory statement to the high level forum on global anti-Semitism in September 2016, proudly announces that “violence against people because of their religious identity or beliefs is an assault on the core values of the United Nations,” we might at best detect confusion in his understanding of anti-Semitism. At worst, we have to conclude that the United Nations has an utter disinterest in this phenomenon, and is therefore neither able nor willing to take up the fight against anti-Semitism.
If the United Nations fails to understand classical anti-Semitism, how can it address its new forms, in which the image of Israel resembles very much the classical anti-Semitic image of “the Jews”?
The UN today is an important catalyst of this new anti-Semitism. The world body continuously delegitimizes and demonizes Israel, for instance by its notorious 1975 resolution equating Zionism to racism, and through repeatedly singling out and condemning Israel while being silent on human rights violations by other states or, worse, by rewarding those violators with seats in its prestigious forums.
Ban Ki-moon’s words on combating anti-Semitism will remain empty and ineffective if the UN resists a serious engagement with the meaning and scope of all forms of anti-Semitism. Unless the UN reflects upon its very role in boosting anti-Semitism through its work, it will remain part of the problem, and cannot become part of the solution.
Amongst the list of documents, there are only a few exceptions which, beyond listing anti-Semitism among other forms of discrimination, dedicate a paragraph or more to it. The strongest one is the report of the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. The Special Rapporteur recognizes the anti-Semitic character of Holocaust denial in the section on “Countering Holocaust denial and the distortion of history.” He points out the dangers deriving from such a distortion, and emphasizes that it is not merely a phenomenon of the extreme right, by concretely mentioning the Holocaust cartoon competition in Iran and endeavors of Holocaust relativization in Eastern European universities. He recommends educational as well as legislative measures to counter Holocaust denial. Such extensive and explanatory paragraphs are generally rare among the UN documents, and can serve as a positive example of how the topic can be given attention. If this Special Rapporteur was able to seriously address the issue, why don’t others do so too?
I set out to answer what the UN has done on anti-Semitism since Ban Ki-moon’s strong words of dedication to combat it. The answer is, unfortunately, very little. Even though the topic of anti-Semitism is brought up within the UN mechanisms and by the UN institutions in 71 official documents, it lacks systematic attention and assessment. This is the result of an incomplete understanding of the issue at hand, which correlates with an insufficient focus and the buck-passing to external actors such as NGOs and international organizations. Consequently, the UN places the task upon these other actors and member states to raise anti-Semitism as a problem, which explains the shocking imbalance between the West and the rest of the world. An institution dedicated to combat anti-Semitism must urge member states to face this scourge head on, instead of depending on the goodwill of others. The few positive examples of in-depth discussion show that the United Nations has the capacity to approach anti-Semitism seriously.
- Acknowledge the problem by developing an understanding of anti-Semitism: This should be done by adopting the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of anti-Semitism.
- Make anti-Semitism a subject of discussion: Urge member states, UN treaty bodies and special rapporteurs to investigate anti-Semitism in each country, and clearly address it in their reports, under the relevant treaties, mandates and applicable standards.
- Take a stand: Issue a resolution that explains and condemns anti-Semitism, which also urges member states to recognize and act against it.
- Reflect upon your own role: The UN must confront itself with questions of how its resolutions and decisions boost new forms of anti-Semitism, instead of fighting it.
SIMON WIESENTHAL CENTER
Rabbi Marvin Hier, Founder and Dean, April 9, 2017
It was this month, 72 years ago in Berlin, in 1945 that Adolf Hitler wrote his final will in which he predicted it would take a few centuries before anti-Semitism would come back. Of course it took a lot less than a few centuries. But even Hitler could not have predicted that in addition to the familiar slogans of Jew hatred, there would be a much more sophisticated kind of anti-Semitism that would be regularly deployed even in the halls of the United Nations – the very international organization created in order to prevent another Holocaust.
To explain, let me first tell you about a remarkable encounter I had with David Ben-Gurion in the summer of 1971 when I was a rabbi in Vancouver and took
a group of teenagers for their first trip to Israel. We had the special privilege to spend nearly an hour with Ben-Gurion who had retired to his kibbutz in S’De Boker. To this day, I shall never forget what he told our group. He said when you go home I want you to thank your parents and grandparents on my behalf for all they are doing for the State of Israel. Tell them that without their help, without the help of Diaspora Jewry, there would be no State of Israel.
But also tell them that there will come a time in the future where world Jewry and the Diaspora will be dependent on the State of Israel. David Ben-Gurion’s prophetic words have now come true. Today, Israel is the super engine that continues to fuel Diaspora Jewry. Sixty thousand high school and university students from North America alone come every year via Birthright to reconnect with their Jewish identity. Thousands study there and millions visit each year.
That is why I believe strongly that the campaign now being waged to delegitimize Israel by UN agencies around the world is potentially the greatest threat facing world Jewry, because Jews in the Diaspora recognize that without an Israel there will be no Diaspora. So how can we explain that of the 135 resolutions adopted by the UN Human Rights Council in the last decade, more than 50% of them have condemned Israel? How is it possible that of the 97 resolutions introduced in the last four years by the UN General Assembly, 87 of them were against the State of Israel? Can you believe that the Security Council, since 1948, has condemned Israel in 78 resolutions directly attacking Israel – no other nation comes even close.
There is no obsession with Syria where a quarter of a million people have been slaughtered; no 97 resolutions condemning North Korea, which threatens the world with nuclear weapons; nor with Iran, the leading sponsor of terrorism; nor about the destruction and pillage taking place in Iraq, Libya, or Afghanistan. Not even a resolution against Russia’s action in Ukraine, against the treatment of women in Saudi Arabia, no speaking out against Hamas or Hezbollah, the terrorist organizations who seek a war in the Middle East. Yes, only the Jewish State of Israel, the Middle East’s sole democracy, is singled out year after year, insisting that they withdraw to the indefensible June ’67 borders.
The simple fact is that it was the famous Abba Eban, Israel’s foreign minister of the dovish Labor party, not Menachem Begin, not Ariel Sharon, not Bibi Netanyahu, who warned the world that an Israeli withdrawal to the June ‘67 borders would in fact mean a return to the Auschwitz borders. Eban’s point was that Israel’s Arab neighbors today live in more than 5 million square miles of land, while the tiny State of Israel, including all the West Bank territories it captured in the 1967 War, started by her Arab neighbors, is no more than 11,200 square miles.
Because of this, Great Britain for the first time issued a stern warning to the UN, “The persistence of bias, particularly the disproportionate volume of resolutions against Israel undermines the Council’s credibility as … an objective international human rights body….” That is why it is imperative that the same voices, across the political spectrum, that are always there to confront racism and bigotry, must add their voices and shine a light on this duplicity and double standard.
The same is true of the Jewish community. We must broaden our agenda and wage the battle against anti-Semitism not only when our cemeteries are being desecrated, but also when see diplomats, year after year, sit around a fancy table in New York and continue to advocate policies that in effect would mean nothing less than shrinking the State of Israel, where seven million of the world’s fourteen million Jews live, into total oblivion. That, too, my friends, must stir our conscience, and that too, must become the cause of freedom loving people everywhere!
ANTI-SEMITISM, BROUGHT TO YOU BY THE UNITED NATIONS
The UN gives a platform to many NGOs
that actively encourage violence against Jews
and the destruction of Israel.
National Review, Anne Bayefsky, September 7, 2016
The United Nations was founded as a global pact among states, but over the decades in the name of transparency and to further the aim of globalization, it has opened its doors to more than 6,150 non-governmental organizations (NGOs). While governments wring their hands over incitement to terror and dangerous uses of social media, they ignore the alarming focal point within arms’ reach: the United Nations. An examination of U.N. NGOs reveals that the U.N. has handed a global megaphone to groups spreading hatred and inciting terror from the world stage. In short, the so-called representatives of “civil society” aren’t so civil after all.
In theory, the U.N. has processes for accreditation that share a common requirement: respect for the purposes and principles of the organization. In order to qualify for accreditation, NGOs must operate in conformity with, or promote, the U.N Charter. They must affirm “faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small.”
In practice, NGOs have been welcomed into the world of international diplomacy and have gained access to international media platforms while they are simultaneously betraying the core U.N mission by advocating terror and intolerance.
Most striking for an organization founded on the ashes of the Holocaust, the U.N. has accredited NGOs that play a central role in promoting modern anti-Semitism and encouraging the destruction of the Jewish state.
The benefits of U.N. accreditation for NGOs are tangible and significant: the ability to sponsor speakers, mount exhibits, and screen films in the same U.N. facilities that house an international press corps; the right to speak at U.N. meetings and have their words translated and broadcast via U.N. webcasts worldwide; the capacity to publish written statements and have them disseminated by the U.N.; the opportunity to attend negotiating sessions and to influence the world’s diplomats. U.N. websites even link directly to selected NGO websites, greatly enhancing their traffic and messaging.
Scattered around the U.N. system are a few disclaimers of responsibility for the content of NGO events and websites. But NGO events on U.N. premises are permitted only after detailed applications and approval by U.N. representatives. NGO website links are selectively posted on U.N. sites by U.N. officials. And NGOs are regularly singled out for coveted speaking gigs by U.N. representatives. U.N. selection and approval procedures, from accreditation on, belie claims that U.N. officials and envoys are ignorant of the purposes and content of the NGOs they choose.
In May 2016, many of the world’s major NGOs complained that the accreditation processes were unfair because applications were being thwarted by certain member states for fear of empowering critics of these states. And, indeed, many of the states running the U.N. accreditation processes — such as China, Cuba, Iran, Russia, and Sudan — inhibit free speech and curtail the freedom of association in their own backyards. At the same time, these nations use their powers on the U.N. NGO Committee to protect themselves in the international arena.
But the NGOs busy clamoring for more access to the U.N. are seeking the privileges without the responsibilities. They have no intention of policing themselves. On the contrary, the common mantra among NGOs is that they promote “the voices of the victims” — where victimhood is self-defined, regardless of the legitimacy of the claims. The reality is that U.N. member states are not only delaying or denying accreditation to the right NGOs; they are accrediting the wrong NGOs: the terrorist advocates, the haters, the anti-Semites.
Here is a selection of the output from U.N-accredited NGOs, their websites, their social-media accounts, their written and oral statements at the U.N. — all easily accessible online in 2016.
- Zionism, with its inhumane ethnic, racist principles, with its devilish schemes which generate chaos all over the world, with its dangerous plans to dominate . . . with its beastly octopus which has almost a decisive role in directing the policies of the greatest countries in the world . . . ” — the International Organization for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination
- “The main obstacle to the advancement of Zionism is the heroic daily resistance of the Palestinians, manifested in the recent ‘youth intifada.’ . . . Zionism instrumentalizes the memory of the Holocaust as a tool to legitimize war crimes. . . . We must expose the fallacy of partition and the two-state solution.” — Alternatives, Action, and Communication Network for International Development
- “Never forget or forgive! We will fight until total liberation of #Palestine from the River to the Sea! #Nakba67” — Al-Awda, The Palestine Right to Return Coalition
- I saw how the settlements are spreading everywhere like spores inhabited by pervert vagabonds who came from everywhere around the world to occupy this land.” — Arab Commission for Human Rights
- The most important feeling is when you feel your soul and the souls of the people you love are so cheap, and your suffering and your blood so cheap, and there is only one blood and soul that is holy, which is Israeli Jews, you just lose your mind.” — United Nations Information System on the Question of Palestine (UNISPAL) entry on the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights
- “This year uncovered, for the first time, the practice of extracting human organs from killed Palestinians whose bodies were in the hands of Israeli forces and the sale of these organs.” — The International Organization for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination
- “Zionist ideology is the driving force behind the ongoing Palestinian reality of apartheid.” — BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights
- “To boost Israeli arms sales, Palestinian families have suffered three onslaughts of ‘systematic genocide’ wars in six years.” — Third World Network
The use and abuse of the United Nations to broadcast and support modern anti-Semitism and its lethal consequences is part of a burgeoning global network of incitement to violent extremism. The democratic states that control U.N. purse strings have the power and the duty to stop it
UN GROUND ZERO FOR ANTISEMITISM
AND INCITEMENT ON A GLOBAL SCALE
“The Israeli occupation...
leave[s] [Palestinian] prisoners exposed to deadly diseases
....The Israeli occupation is the world’s only entity
in which doctors torture and blackmail prisoners.”
Jerusalem Post, by Ziva Dahl, September 19, 2016
September has arrived and with it, “show time” at the United Nations – the 71st session of its General Assembly.
Prior to the main event, a forum on antisemitism was held last week, attended by the UN secretary general and the ambassadors of the US, Canada, the EU, Israel and other countries.
This forum’s goal was to draw attention to the worldwide rise of antisemitism which, according to Israeli Ambassador Danny Danon, is “at the highest level of our lifetimes,” and find constructive ways to remedy the problem. Ironically, but not surprisingly, the forum failed to address the elephant in the room – that the UN itself supports and promotes the very antisemitism about which this conference expressed concern.
Unexplored was that the UN provides a global megaphone for antisemitism through its accreditation of many non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that promote Jew-hatred, condone or justify violence and terrorism, and advocate for the destruction of the Jewish state.
A recent report by Anne Bayefsky and Sarah Willig of Human Rights Voices documents the travesty.
The UN accredits more than 6,150 NGOs. To qualify, NGOs must conform to the UN Charter by affirming “faith in fundamental human rights... in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small.”
These NGOs are allowed to sponsor UN programs, speak at UN meetings, submit statements to UN bodies, access international press, post on UN websites and have their messages broadcast globally via UN webcasts. By providing international exposure and legitimacy to NGOs that blatantly violate Charter principles, the UN is complicit in the rise of antisemitism today.
The Bayefsky-Willig report cites numerous detailed examples of UN-accredited NGO hate mongering which incites antisemitism. Here is but a small representative sample: “Gas chambers are not needed...little girls riddled with bullets, infants beheaded by shell fire; a little massacre here, a little starvation there.... Israel has given itself the right to erase the Palestinian presence...to commit genocide.” (Women for Palestine)
“Zionism is a colonialist, racist, ideology of conquest, oppression, subjugation and control.” (Near East Cultural and Educational Foundation of Canada) “Our world is now faced with... a new type of Nazism...Zionism, with its inhumane ethnic, racist principles... devilish schemes which generate chaos all over the world... the [Israeli] practice of extracting human organs from killed Palestinians...and the sale of these organs.” (International Organization for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination)
“The Al-Quds Intifadah [Palestinian knifings of Israeli civilians in Jerusalem] is the legitimate expression of the Palestinian people’s will to resist continued subjugation and humiliation by the occupying power.” (International Progress Organization)
“Today the Gaza Strip... has become a concentration camp whose occupants are victims of the crimes committed by their jailers.” (American Association of Jurists to the UN Human Rights Council)
“The policies of incremental ethnic cleansing that Israel calls ‘Judaization’ are proceeding apace.” (Habitat International Coalition) “Since its imposition in 1948 in Palestine, the Israeli state has... killed, injured, imprisoned and tortured, and used Palestinian children as human shields.” (Al-Awda, The Palestine Right To Return Coalition)
“The Israeli occupation...leave[s] [Palestinian] prisoners exposed to deadly diseases....The Israeli occupation is the world’s only entity in which doctors torture and blackmail prisoners.” (Khiam Rehabilitation Center)
Many UN-accredited NGOs wipe Israel off their maps, depicting “Palestine” as all of Israel plus Gaza, Judea and Samaria.
Since the UN accredits these NGOs through a formal process, it can’t claim that it’s ignorant of their anti-Semitic activities and messaging. The truth is there in plain sight for anyone who wants to see it.
According to the US State Department, antisemitism today includes demonizing Israel, delegitimizing its right to exist in it historical homeland and holding Israel to a higher standard than any other state.
Propagating “blood libels” against Israelis and working to destroy this UN member state are clearly anti-Semitic and violate the UN Charter. If there is genuine concern about the rise of antisemitism, then concrete actions must be taken to stop UN NGOs from abusing their powerful global platform to incite hatred.
America and other Western democracies have turned a willfully blind eye to this loathsome reality and continue to subsidize global Jew-hatred via their funding of the UN, an institution created in the aftermath of World War II and the Holocaust that has utterly failed to live up to its promise.
As Ayn Rand wrote, “The hardest thing to explain is the glaringly evident which everybody has decided not to see.”
UN CHIEF IN JERUSALEM:
‘CALLS FOR ISRAEL’S DESTRUCTION
‘IS MODERN ANTI-SEMITISM’
In meeting with President Rivlin,
Antonio Guterres says international body
will treat Jewish state with 'impartiality'
Times of Israel, Alexander Fulbright, 28 August 2017
United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres talks to the press after his visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial museum in Jerusalem on August 28, 2017. (AFP Photo/Menahem Kahana)
United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres talks to the press after his visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial museum in Jerusalem on August 28, 2017. (AFP Photo/Menahem Kahana)
United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres said Monday that calling for Israel’s destruction is a “form of modern anti-Semitism” and said he would treat Israel with “impartiality” amid vocal complaints by Israeli officials that the world body is biased against the Jewish state.
“I do believe that in particular when you mention those who call for the destruction of the State of Israel that that is a form of modern anti-Semitism,” Guterres told President Reuven Rivlin at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem.
“But you also understand that I sometimes disagree with positions of the Government of Israel or any other government, and that is absolutely normal in a society where many of your citizens have exactly the same expressions of opinions,” he added.
“We will always be very frank in the dialogue with the State of Israel in trying to find ways for peace to be possible in this region, but we will always be very committed to make sure anti-Semitism doesn’t prevail and that equality in the treatment of all states is fully respected.”
Guterres, who was greeted upon his arrival Sunday with complaints from Israeli officials of the UN’s “anti-Israel bias,” said under his leadership the international body will treat Israel with “impartiality,” as he said it does with every country.
“I want to express to you, Mr. President, that you can be fully confident that in my role as Secretary General, and in relation to the functions of the secretariat that I am supposed to meet, I am very keen in stressing the values of the Charter, and the very important value of the Charter, impartiality,” he told Rivlin.
“And impartiality means treating all states equally, and I am totally committed to that in my action and in everything I can do for the organization I lead.”
The secretary general also mentioned his trip to the Yad Vashem Memorial Holocaust museum earlier Monday and mentioned his home country Portugal’s own history of anti-Semitism in the 16th century.
“Yad Vashem is there to remind us that we need to be in the first line in fighting against antisemitism, but first of all fighting against all other forms of bigotry, be it racism, xenophobia, even anti-Muslim hatred, to promote understanding and to promote dialogue,” he said.
In his remarks at Yad Vashem, Guterres said he was “shocked” by the anti-Semitic and Nazi chants at the violent white supremacist rally earlier this month in Charlottesville, Virginia, and also warned that anti-Semitism is “alive and well.”
“I was shocked a few [days] ago to listen to the chant of a group of neo Nazis in developed country in the world chanting ‘blood and soil’ – [a] slogan of the Nazis. That is a dramatic demonstration that it is our duty to do everything possible and as Secretary General of the United Nations I fully assume that commitment to do everything possible to fight anti-Semitism in all its expressions,” he said.
“As I said I’m truly committed to fight anti-Semitism, as to fight racism, xenophobia, anti-Muslim hatred and all other forms of bigotry that unfortunately we are not yet able to make our world free of.”
In his remarks, Rivlin called on Guterres “to work to end the discrimination against Israel” at the UN, while also thanking him for “brave leadership” on the issue.
“This targeting of Israel, this singling out of the world’s only Jewish state, and even actions and statements that threaten to destroy Israel are unacceptable, and should come at a price. No member state in the UN should be allowed to behave like that,” the president said.
“We appreciate your brave leadership regarding the discrimination against Israel. We hope that working together, we can create a more productive partnership between Israel and the UN, for the sake of our region, and for the sake of all humanity.”
Guterres arrived in Israel Sunday evening for a three-day visit that will include meetings with senior Israeli officials in Jerusalem and Palestinian officials in the West Bank, as well as a stop in the Gaza Strip, where the UN runs a major Palestinian aid program.
Stephane Dujarric, the spokesperson for the UN chief, said that the purpose of his trip was “to engage directly with Israeli and Palestinian people and their leaders” about “finding a long overdue peaceful resolution to the conflict.”
Guterres is set to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu later Monday.
On Sunday, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely announced that Israel will discuss two key issues with the UN head during the visit: ending “anti-Israel bias” at the 193-nation organization, and changing the mandate of its peacekeeping mission in Lebanon, known as UNIFIL.
“We are seeking a dramatic change in the way the UN treats Israel. It’s time to place the issue squarely on the table and address it head-on,” Hotovely said, threatening funding cuts for the body if changes were not implemented.
The trip came as the UN Security Council is debating renewing the mandate of UNIFIL’s peacekeepers for another year, with a vote expected on August 30.
The US ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, has blasted the commander of UNIFIL, Irish Maj. Gen. Michael Beary, accusing him of turning a blind eye to Hezbollah weapons smuggling.
Pointing to Haley’s comments, Hotovely said that “if the UN does not drastically change its behavior it will lose both support and funding” from Israel and other countries.
“It’s no longer just us threatening this,” she said. “The US position has changed. Led by Nikki Haley, they have made clear that they will not tolerate bias against us and will no longer be giving an open check.”
Guterres’s spokesman Dujarric has said in the past that the UN secretary general has “full confidence in (UNIFIL’s commander’s) work.”