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Zionism Equals Racism (Z=R) Resolution Adopted November 10, 1975

After the U.N. General Assembly (GA) adopted resolution 3379 on November 10, 1975, declaring Zionism a “form of racism and racial discrimination,” Daniel Patrick Moynihan, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., declared “A great evil has been loosed upon the world. The abomination of anti-Semitism has been given international sanction. The General Assembly today grants symbolic amnesty—and more—to the murderers of the six million European Jews.”

“The United States,” he said, “rises to declare, before the General Assembly of the United Nations, and before the world, that it does not acknowledge, it will not abide by, it will never acquiesce in this infamous act.”

Though legally non-binding, the passage of GA resolution 3379 meant the U.N. had denied the legitimacy of the Jewish state, which it had helped to create. On November 29, 1947, the U.N. General Assembly passed Resolution 181, calling for the partition of Palestine into Arab and Jewish states. On May 11, 1949, the GA adopted Resolution 273 to admit the State of Israel as a full and equal member of the U.N.

Historian Jacob Talmon noted that “There was something horribly mean and spiteful in spokesmen of what is, in their language, always named ‘the noble Arab race’ bamboozling representatives of states born yesterday, without even a word in their native tongues to describe the Jew, without the vaguest knowledge or understanding of the peculiar and distant roots and the worldwide aspects of the Jewish problem and the Middle East conflict, without any authentic information on what is going on in present-day Israel.”

“No less repulsive,” he said, “was the plotting with Machiavellian regimes… to brand as racists the most tragic victims of racism for whom actually the very word had been coined, and upon whom it has been practiced most thoroughly…. Not so long ago anti-Semitism and racism were synonymous.”

The racist label is a canard Talmon added. Arabs and Jews in Israel do not have separate seats on public transportation or separate public lavatories. Arabs are admitted to schools and universities, are members of Knesset and are nurses and physicians in Israeli hospitals.

Salam Erekat, Saeb Erekat’s daughter, has been an ophthalmologist at Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem for eight years. Saeb Erekat, the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) chief negotiator, who has called Israel an apartheid state, is being treated at Hadassah hospital, despite the PA’s decision earlier this year to sever relations with Israel.

Until 1984, the Israel embassies did not assess the effect Z=R was having on Israel’s image, noted political scientist Yohanan Manor. When they did, they discovered the damage was undeniable. The Israeli government then launched the campaign to force the U.N. to abrogate the resolution, which took until December 16, 1991.

Support for Repeal of Z=R

Eighty-five countries, a little more than half of the 166 members of the U.N., co-sponsored the repeal, including the Soviet Union and all its former Eastern European communist allies. Cuba, North Korea and Vietnam were the only communist countries to vote against the repeal. No Arab country voted for the repeal. Bahrain, Egypt, Kuwait, Morocco, Oman and Tunisia were absent when the vote was taken, a sign that the measure had split Islamic and non aligned governments.

Vice President Dan Quayle called for the repeal of Z=R in 1988, but the Israeli government feared the cost for U.S. help would be onerous. Journalist Paul Lewis said European and other allies supported the repeal of Z=R to provide President George H.W. Bush leverage over the Israelis. Bush could cajole the pro-Israel lobby in the U.S. during an election year while pressuring Israel to acquiesce to their Arab neighbors. The Bush administration claimed that they endorsed repeal of Z=R not because of the presidential election, but because they finally had enough votes to repeal it.

Lewis reported that many political experts believed that Bush’s timing diverted criticism from his decision to withhold guarantees for Israeli loans for the resettlement of Soviet Jewish refugees in Israel. Bush did not want to be accused of insensitivity toward Israel, especially during this period.

The Damage That Was Done

By the end of 1991, Z=R had caused significant damage to Israel’s image by conferring legitimacy on anti-Semitism. The systematic dehumanization of Zionism in the West was succeeding. Israel was “no longer among the ordinary evil-doers of this world, all of whom at one time or another attack and harm civilian populations, oppress minorities, and institute exclusive immigration laws and monopolistic
religious laws,” wrote Ehud Sprinzak of the Hebrew University.

Israel’s crimes were committed “as part of an entire ideological system” and therefore every Israeli government action was racist and “anti humanistic.” Israel had gone from a legitimate national liberation movement to one that opposed the rightful aspirations of other nations and peoples. As Lewis explained, the U.N. GA provided the stage and a guilt-free path for anti-Semites and anti-Semitism at the U.N.

Anti-Zionism is still alive in the U.N. The U.N. Human Rights Council tenaciously focuses on condemning Israel, which as AIPAC noted “is the only permanent agenda item on the Council’s agenda.”

Being against Zionism, Israel and the U.S. is “often the glue that somehow holds together the heterogeneous coalition against globalism,” opined Yohanan Manor.

It was not by accident that Abba Eban, Israel’s first permanent representative to the U.N., once called the U.N. “the world center for anti-Semitism.”

Alex Grobman is the senior resident scholar at the John C. Danforth Society and a member of the Council of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East. He has an MA and PhD from the Hebrew University. He lives in Jerusalem.

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