Has the UN Finally Recognized Anti-Semitism?

By Alyssa A. Lappen
FrontPageMagazine.com | June 30, 2004

Will international policy makers truly address resurgent anti-Semitism after a landmark June 21 United Nations symposium on the subject? The early signs are not encouraging.

However, the conference’s opening day rhetoric was soothing, something too often absent from UN rhetoric about Israel and the Jewish people. In opening remarks, Secretary General Kofi Annan acknowledged the unique nature of this “hatred, intolerance and persecution,” and the UN’s past failure to address it.

He noted that he UN General Assembly in 1948 adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and recognized barbarities that “outraged the conscience of mankind.” The day before, it codified the international Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. But “a human rights agenda that fails to address anti-Semitism denies its own history,” Annan admitted.

While welcome, Annan’s strong words drew, at best, guarded hope from most of the other 17 illustrious speakers: Since September 2000, as hatred and terrorism against Israel and the Jews have intensified throughout the world, the UN remained largely silent, its agents often lending its support. In October 2000, UN forces videotaped UN vehicles used by Hezbollah terrorists to violate Israel’s borders, murder three Israeli soldiers and steal their bodies. The “anti-racism” conference in Durban a year later prompted William F. Buckley to recall his 1973 observation that the UN General Assembly had evolved “into the most concentrated font of anti-Semitism in the world.” In 2002, UN special envoy Terje Roed-Larsen condemned Israel for perpetrating a Jenin massacre that had never actually occurred.
For more than 50 years, UN Relief and Works Agency administrators ignored abuses, hatred and terror fomented in their camps, said Malcolm Hoenlein of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish organizations. Last month, Israeli television aired footage of UNRWA ambulances transporting armed Arab Palestinian terrorists

On Monday, protestors previously forced to contest UN intolerance and inaction by chaining themselves to the fence outside its New York headquarters were grateful for the opportunity to speak inside a UN conference hall. But Joseph Potasnik, President of the New York Board of Rabbis, rebuked the UN in recalling the Talmudic discussion of moral choices when two desert travelers have only enough water for one to survive.

The one who drinks, he observed, must assume responsibility to carry on for the one left to die in the wilderness. A repentant UN would humiliate Holocaust deniers with a memorial in its headquarters to 6 million Jewish civilians—and one for 1,000 Israeli victims felled by genocidal Islamic terror since September 2000. But only the dismissal of terrorist nations like Libya, Syria and Sudan from the Human Rights Commission, he said, would reassure skeptics. Otherwise, “the inmates are running the asylum,” Rabbi Potasnik said.

Non-Jewish speakers likewise expressed impatience with international policy. “Each and every one of us has an obligation to work against hatred and intolerance in every form,” said Sister Ruth Loutt of St. Dominic of Amityville. “But when it comes to the ancient sin of anti-Semitism, we have a particularly grave responsibility.” Princeton University New Testament professor James Charlesworth concurred: anti-Semitism foreshadows the demise of humans, he said, with respect for the Jewish foundation of every Christian creed and an admonition that anti-Semitism is Christianity’s greatest heresy.

“Zionism is not racism,” declared William Sutter, executive director of The Friends of Israel. “It is the Jewish liberation from oppression and fear.” He urged the UN to enlist evangelical Christians to help fight the ancient evil of anti-Semitism.

Laban Seyoum, a young Christian Orthodox Ethiopian, echoed his sentiments with quiet eloquence, moments before Under-Secretary General Shashi Tharoon urged patience in the day’s closing summation. “I find it shocking that in the twenty-first century we still have to deal with anti-Semitism,” said Seyoum. “It’s a disgrace to humanity. We must stop it.”

Seyoum’s support for the Jewish people has made him a pariah in his college class, he later confided privately. He considers this inconsequential, however, as prejudice against the Jewish people mounts worldwide.

Few speakers now believe UN words can now blunt the malign effects of verbal and visual missiles that for years have poured from government-sponsored newspapers, radio and television broadcasts in the 57 Muslim nations of the Middle East and Asia. Islamic preachers of hatred, from Gaza and Egypt to Pakistan, Malaysia and Indonesia “exhort their followers to blow up Jews,” said Anne Bayefsky, a senior fellow at Hudson Institute and an adjunct professor at Columbia University Law School. Bayefsky rebuked Annan for his weak reactions to two Jerusalem suicide bombings that killed 19 civilians this year and wounded 110. “Refusing to name the perpetrators,” she warned “is a green light to strike again.”

Bayefsky demanded that the UN unconditionally condemn anti-Semitism, appoint officials to confront and monitor anti-Semitic attacks, and fund annual reports on the unprecedented terror unleashed against Jewish people and institutions worldwide in September 2000. She further challenged the UN to label as terrorists those who kill Jews because of their ethnicity, to condemn human rights abuses in Riyadh and Damascus, and to stop reprimanding the Jewish people for defending themselves against their would-be killers. Finally, she asked that Annan never again dishonor Israel Independence Day joining a moment of silence for “Al Naqba” or “those who would destroy the state of Israel.”

If Bir Zeit on the Hudson rejects Bayefsky, at the UN her refreshing candor earned a standing ovation.

Hoenlein came closest to defining the central role of Islam behind the rise in anti-Semitic hatred. He asked the UN to establish a special office to monitor and combat Muslim government and institutional sponsors of anti-Semitism and xenophobia.

Even this, were it accomplished, would be a major achievement.

It could hardly tame the beast unleashed by thousands of anti-Semitic websites, where Judeophobes lurk behind anonymous screen names to spew venomous hatred, according to Jacob Levy of Gallup Israel. Nor would it blunt the stereotypes of Jews as conspiratorial moneygrubbers and murderers that have filtered dangerously into mainstream Western media editorials, cartoons and news columns or diminish the increasing hostility and assaults faced by Jewish students on American college campuses, where professors encourage support for the Palestinian “struggle”—including suicide bombers.

But Rene Wadlaw and David Littman, Geneva non-governmental representatives for the Association for World Education, in 1997 detailed UN precedents likely to block progressive ideas like Hoenlein’s. That March, Palestinian Authority ambassador Nabil Ramlawi falsely accused Israel of injecting the AIDS virus into 300 Palestinian children during the 1987-1992 intifada. The Jerusalem Post duly exposed this calumny; U.S. Deputy Permanent Representative to the Economic and Social Council denounced the HIV libel as patently false and malicious. Yet the charge remained on the UN Commission of Human Rights record.

Later in 1997, a UN Special Rapporteur on Racism was accused of blasphemy. On behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, Indonesia’s representative thanked the UN for excising “a blasphemous reference to the Holy Qur’an in the report of the Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance—in consultation with the parties concerned.” In 1994, Sudan had objected to a report on its human rights abuses which “contained abusive, inconsiderate, blasphemous and offensive remarks about the Islamic faith.”

In short, the overarching influence of 57 Muslim nations at the UN has already seriously compromised the body’s ability to uphold even the most basic principals of its own 1948 Declaration of Human Rights; in most instances, Muslim nations argue, these conflict with precepts of Islamic law, or Sharia. And a clear majority of dictatorships among UN member states back them up.

Those harboring illusions might consult a seminal work by Islamic scholar Raphael Israeli, Islamikaze: Manifestations of Islamic Martyrology. “Durban 2001 should remain for ever a warning on the level of hatred and bigotry to which the United Nations today is capable of stooping,” he writes (2003, p. 452).

So malign is the UN agenda that democratic nations should abandon it, he advises, to form a new Alliance of Western and Democratic States (AWADS) with the United States, Canada, Australia and Western Europe at its core. This group might ensure the survival of Western norms and universal human rights in the West at least, by admitting as members only those Muslim nations agreed to maintain liberal democratic, accountable, non-hereditary governments, elected freely and practicing orderly and peaceful transfers of power; free press; free, equal and unassailable property rights for citizens of every creed; free real estate and funds transactions; freedom of the arts, humanities, literature and protection for individual creations; and a strong and independent judiciary with oversight.

But no UN speaker recognized the hatred of non-Muslims fundamental to classical Islamic law and practice, much less the judicial and sacred traditions of Islamic anti-Semitism dating back to the faith’s founding by its Prophet, Mohammed, who utterly destroyed the Jewish population of Yathrib, plundered their homes, plantations and fields and built from their ruins an army of unprecedented strength in Arabia. [1]

In 629, Mohammed’s army forced the Jews of Khaybar to grant half their date crops to the Muslims, along with titles to their palm trees; He similarly subjugated Jewish farmers in nearby Fadak and Wadi’l-Qura, on Palestine’s border. Mohammed’s repeated assaults on Mu’ta consolidated Islam on Palestine’s borders. He forced conquered Jewish residents of Eilat, Maqna and Adhruh to pay extortionate taxes. They must “accept Islam, or pay the tax, and obey God and His Messenger and the messengers of His Messenger” to guarantee them security “on land and on sea.” Failure to pay would earn his promise to “fight you and take you as captives and slay the elderly.” [2] In 634, a Syriac chronicle describes a battle 12 miles from Gaza, in which Muslims massacred 4,000 poor Palestinian Christian, Jewish, Samaritan and Arab villagers. [3]

The UN’s sole Muslim panelist, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf of the American Sufi Muslim Association, claimed to support the Jewish right to a state in Israel, yet claimed anti-Semitism would die only when Israel resolves its differences with the Palestinians. He denied the Islamic apocalyptic vision, calling upon Muslims worldwide to slaughter Jews (and all “infidels”) to hasten Islam’s victory over all other faiths. And he also falsely attributed benevolence to Umar, the second Caliph, who conquered Jerusalem in 638 after a gruesome two-year siege. Far from inviting the Jewish people to return, Umar’s covenant banished them, promising that “No Jew shall live among them in Jerusalem.” Theophanes chronicled Umar’s pretention and hypocrisy and his demand to see Solomon’s Temple to “return it into a prayer site for his own…blasphemies.”

Indeed, Umar required Christians to pay the extortionate jizya tax to guarantee “safety of their persons and that of their churches and crosses.” [4] Umar exemplified neither Zionism nor human rights.

On June 22, the New York Times highlighted the problem without reporting a single word on the UN conference. One news item features UN World Health Organization fears that Africa is “on the brink of the biggest polio epidemic in recent years,” but ignores the epidemic’s cause — an Arab Muslim genocide targeting black non-Muslims and Muslims. Another under the headline “U.S. Envoy Wants Israel Settlement Freeze” suggests that removing Jewish “settlers” could magically engender peace.

When genocidal terrorists escape responsibility for their crimes, they are invited to sow more destruction. And when Israel’s progress — which flows from economic growth, resourceful agriculture and human settlement — is denigrated simply because its developers are Jewish, this is anti-Semitism. The UN, both in this conference and as a body, is far from a meaningful solution; it is not even clear they have yet comprehended the extent of the problem.
[1] Gil, Moshe, A History of Palestine: 634-1099 (1997 ed), p. 11.
[2] Gil, Moshe, pp. 21-30.
[3] Gil, Moshe, p. 38.
[4] Gil, Moshe, pp. 53-54.

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Alyssa A. Lappen is a U.S.-based investigative journalist. She is the former Managing Editor at the Leeb Group (2012-2017); a former Senior Fellow of the American Center for Democracy (2005-2008); and a former Senior Editor of Institutional Investor (1993-1999), Working Woman (1991-1993) and Corporate Finance (1991). She served six of her 12 years at Forbes (1978-1990) as an Associate Editor. Ms. Lappen was also a staff reporter at The New Haven Register (1975-1977). During a decade as a freelance, her work appeared in Big Peace, Pajamas Media, Front Page Magazine, American Thinker, Right Side News, Family Security Matters, the Washington Times and many other Internet and print journals. Ms. Lappen also contributed to the Terror Finance Blog, among others. She supports the right of journalists worldwide to write without fear or restriction on politics, governments, international affairs, terrorism, terror financing and religious support for terrorism, among other subjects. Ms. Lappen is also an accomplished poet. Her first full-length collection, The Minstrel's Song, was published by Cross-Cultural Communications in April 2015. Her poems have been published in the 2nd 2007 edition of Blood to Remember: American Poets on the Holocaust and both 2007 issues of Wales' award-winning Seventh Quarry: Swansea Poetry Magazine. Dozens of her poems have appeared in print and online literary journals and books. She won the 2000 annual Ruah: A Journal of Spiritual Poetry chapbook award and has received a Harvard Summer Poetry Prize and several honorable mentions.

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