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Thursday, November 18, 2004

UN blames Jews for anti-semitism

Your Tax Dollars at Work
The U.N. discovers the cause of anti-Semitism: Jews.

BY ANNE BAYEFSKY

Yesterday the House International Relations Committee revealed that money from the United Nations Oil for Food program, which was supposed to provide humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people, helped pay the families of Palestinian suicide bombers. This shouldn't come as a surprise. The U.N. has a problem with anti-Semitism: It doesn't know what it is.

In order to figure it out, the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights and Unesco invited a group of experts to Barcelona last week. Their mission: to provide the U.N. special rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, Doudou Diéne, with advice on anti-Semitism as well as "Christianophobia and Islamophobia."

From whom did the U.N. get advice? There was Tariq Ramadan of Switzerland's Fribourg University, who was denied entry to the U.S. in August on the basis of a law concerning aliens who have used a "position of prominence within any country to endorse or espouse terrorist activity" or are considered a "public safety risk or a national security threat." But apparently the U.N. thought it was worth listening to the views on racism of someone who said on Sept. 25, 2001, that "[Osama] Bin Laden is perhaps a useful straw man, like Saddam Hussein, whose diabolical representation perhaps serves other geo-strategic, economic or political designs."

Then there was anti-Semitism expert Esther Benbassa from the Sorbonne. She wrote in September 2000, "Today, especially in the United States, Jewish philanthropy is exerted in the name of the perennization of the memory of the Shoah [Holocaust]. The money flows to create pulpits on anti-Semitism and the genocide, to finance museums, and research. As if nothing else were significant or had ever existed."

In her written contribution to the meeting, she artfully refers to "merging the image of the extermination with the might of Israel against the Palestinians, the one image reducing the significance of the other, and the Jew as both victim and executioner." Maybe the U.N. tapped her for her expertise at encouraging anti-Semitism?

Also in Barcelona were two Israelis who sit on the board of the same nongovernmental organization, the Alternative Information Center, a perennial U.N. favorite though it is on the fringes of Israeli society. The Center's co-chairman Michael Warshawski wrote in a 1996 newsletter: "Ethnic cleansing is a basic Zionist principle and policy." Fellow board member and Tel Aviv University professor Yossi Schwartz presented a paper at the center's workshop this past May "with the support of the Basque Government" entitled "Anti-Zionism Not Anti-Semitism." Calling for the elimination of the Jewish state is not new to Mr. Schwartz, who has written--after quoting from Trotsky's "epoch": "The solution of the working class to the national question in Israel/Palestine is not one or two or three capitalist states but a socialist federation of the Middle East."

Some invited Jews canceled their participation in the Barcelona conference, though some did attend, including another Israeli. They were compelled to spend their time taking exception to contributions from experts such as "superimposing the Jewish symbol of the Magen David on the Nazi swastika is not anti-Semitism."

At the end of the meeting a draft report, prepared with the assistance of U.N. staffers, was shared with participants, who now have a few days to confirm the outcome. The report will become a U.N. document, and it will be disseminated around the world. Here are some excerpts from the U.N.'s contribution to combating anti-Semitsm:

In practice, it is often difficult for an anti-Zionist type of expression not to be seen as simultaneously anti-Semitic. Nevertheless, several participants maintain that it is necessary to conserve the distinction between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, whilst defending the right to be anti-Zionist without being branded an anti-Semite and also bearing in mind that most Jews were anti-Zionists before 1935. . . .

The genuine Zionism of many Jews helps to explain the fact that many people wrongly feel that most Jews lend their unconditional support to Israeli policies. That is why we have seen attacks on synagogues, arson attacks on schools, desecration of cemeteries, for reasons that have nothing to do either with religion, or education, or the peaceful rest of the deceased, but that have a great deal to do with a political and a territorial conflict. . . .

In the past, anti-Semitism as a phenomenon was absent from the Arab-Muslim world. Here, the Arab-Israeli conflict plays an essential role, but another important element is the perception of the State of Israel as the "Trojan horse" of the West in the Middle East. Anti-Semitism would therefore be a particular manifestation of the hatred felt for the West, partly for financial reasons. . . .

Recommentations:

. . . The leaders of Jewish communities should also act to distinguish defence of the State of Israel from the fight against anti-Semitism. . . .

Contextualising the memory of the Holocaust with that of other genocides and serious events in contemporary history in order to make sure that at the end of the day everyone can feel the Holocaust as their own tragedy, both Jews and non-Jews.

In other words, according to the U.N. experts' draft report, discrimination against individual Jews is bad, while "anti-Zionism"--the denial to the Jewish people of an equal right to self-determination--is not. Since it is the perception of unconditional Jewish support for Israel that leads people to attack a Jewish cemetery, and anti-Semitism was absent from the Muslim world prior to the Arab-Israeli conflict (the mufti of Jerusalem and his friend Hitler notwithstanding), the way to defeat anti-Semitism is for Jews to cut loose defense of the state of Israel. And by the way, anti-Semitism will diminish if only we stop emphasizing the unique horror of the Holocaust.

It may not be surprising to learn that Mr. Diéne seems to have had pretty fixed ideas about anti-Semitism before the meeting even began. In his October 2004 report to the General Assembly, he wrote: "The cycle of extreme violence triggered by the dynamics of occupation . . . has fuelled profound ethnic antagonism and hatred. . . . The Palestinian population . . . is . . . suffering discrimination. Even if Israel has the right to defend itself . . . a security wall . . . constitutes a jarring symbol of seclusion, erected by a people . . . marked by the rejection of the ghetto. One . . . effect of this conflict is its . . . contribution to the rise of . . . anti-Semitism."

Simply put, Jews are responsible for anti-Semitism. Or, if it weren't for Israel's annoying insistence on defending itself, on the same terms as would be applied to any other state faced with five decades of wars and terrorism aimed at its obliteration, Jews would be better off.

It is interesting to compare the U.N. expert's incisive analysis of the underlying hatred in Sudan. After noting in the same report that two million Sudanese have died and four million have been displaced, he muses that "massacres, allegedly ethnically motivated, are continuing to claim victims in the Darfur region. . . . The Special Rapporteur therefore proposes to give greater priority to this region with a view to conducting . . . an investigation . . . of the ethnic dimension of the conflicts ravaging it."

Another day, another U.N. meeting, another UN report, and another serious step backward in combating anti-Semitism.

And don't forget, another American taxpayer dollar.

Ms. Bayefsky is an international lawyer and a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute.