The courageous Anne Bayefsky of Columbia University at the UN conference on Confronting Anti-Semitism: Education for Tolerance and Understanding. From Opinion Journal, with thanks to all who sent it to me:
I appreciate the opportunity to speak to you at this first U.N. conference on anti-Semitism, which is being convened six decades after the organization’s creation. …
This meeting occurs at a point when the relationship between Jews and the United Nations is at an all-time low. The U.N. took root in the ashes of the Jewish people, and according to its charter was to flower on the strength of a commitment to tolerance and equality for all men and women and of nations large and small. Today, however, the U.N. provides a platform for those who cast the victims of the Nazis as the Nazi counterparts of the 21st century. The U.N. has become the leading global purveyor of anti-Semitism–intolerance and inequality against the Jewish people and its state.
Not only have many of the U.N. members most responsible for this state of affairs rendered their own countries Judenrein, they have succeeded in almost entirely expunging concern about Jew-hatred from the U.N. docket. From 1965, when anti-Semitism was deliberately excluded from a treaty on racial discrimination, to last fall, when a proposal for a General Assembly resolution on anti-Semitism was withdrawn after Ireland capitulated to Arab and Muslim opposition, mention of anti-Semitism has continually ground the wheels of U.N.-led multilateralism to a halt.
There has never been a U.N. resolution specifically on anti-Semitism or a single report to a U.N. body dedicated to discrimination against Jews, in contrast to annual resolutions and reports focusing on the defamation of Islam and discrimination against Muslims and Arabs. Instead there was Durban–the 2001 U.N. World Conference “Against Racism,” which was a breeding ground and global soapbox for anti-Semites. When it was over U.N. officials and member states turned the Durban Declaration into the centerpiece of the U.N.’s antiracism agenda–allowing Durban follow-up resolutions to become a continuing battlefield over U.N. concern with anti-Semitism. …
The record of the Secretariat is more of the same. In November 2003, Secretary-General Kofi Annan issued a report on Israel’s security fence, detailing the purported harm to Palestinians without describing one terrorist act against Israelis which preceded the fence’s construction. Recently, the secretary-general strongly condemned Israel for destroying homes in southern Gaza without mentioning the arms-smuggling tunnels operating beneath them. When Israel successfully targeted Hamas terrorist Abdel Aziz Rantissi with no civilian casualties, the secretary-general denounced Israel for an “extrajudicial” killing. But when faced with the 2004 report of the U.N. special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions detailing the murder of more than 3,000 Brazilian civilians shot at close range by police, Mr. Annan chose silence. That’s discrimination. …
Start putting a name to the terrorists that kill Jews because they are Jews.
Start condemning human-rights violators wherever they dwell–even if they live in Riyadh or Damascus.
Stop condemning the Jewish people for fighting back against their killers.
And the next time someone asks you or your colleagues to stand for a moment of silence to honor those who would destroy the state of Israel, say no.
Only then will the message be heard from these chambers that the U.N. will not tolerate anti-Semitism or its consequences against Jews and the Jewish people, whether its victims live in Tehran, Paris or Jerusalem.