Zionism=Racism – A Historical Perspective by Dina Porat .
Zionism=Racism – A Historical Perspective.
The notorious equation “Zionism=racism” was voted on and approved, on the 10th of November
the United Nation General Assembly (resolution no.3379). It was revoked on December 16, 1991 (Resolution no.46/48) by the same assembly. Despite the Revocation, it was about to reappear in the drafts prepared for the U.N. world conference in
It is the aim of this paper to examine these decisions in the general context of the attitudes of the U.N. and its institutes to the Jewish people and the State of Israel over the years from 1945 to 2001, that is from the end of World War II to the
Following World War II, the Holocaust, and the 12 years of the Third Reich, one could have expected
the international forums, including the U.N. ones, to address racism and anti-Semitism intensively, at the center of their deliberations. Over 50 million people were lost in the course of the war, and thrice that number ended up wounded or crippled, so that the need to create legal and institutional barriers against similar future occurrences seemed urgent. Indeed, on the 29th of November 1947 the U.N. General Assembly voted for the establishment of a Jewish state in the
One could argue that these charters, the declaration and following conventions concern all member nations of the U.N., and the countries could not be specified in texts of a general nature, no matter how long and painful their suffering had been. The following could illustrate that the problem is a deeper one, and it concerns the status of Jewish suffering a few years after the war was over: Eleanor Roosevelt was asked to write the introduction to the first English edition of Anne Frank’s diary, published in
During the 50ties it seemed that the international community was satisfied with its early decisions, so that once the need to address racism arose, it was done in each country separately. Let us emphasize that debate, legislation or other forms of addressing racism, and all the more so anti-Semitism as one its major forms, were rare, and remained so until the 90ties, a decade that will be referred to later. Still ,worth mentioning are 1965 establishment of the ICERD (International Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination), amended at 1981; the 1967 UNESCO manifest ( the only one to mention anti-Semitism until the 90ties); and the 1973 U.N. declaration against the Apartheid in South-Africa.
Political opponents of Zionism claimed, especially from 1948 and onwards that anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism are different concepts characterized by different ideas, especially since the old Jews and the new Israeli are separate entities. Yet in fact the treatment of the Zionist movement and the Jewish people by the various political opponents, and sometimes even of the entities that were behind the conventions and declarations, was not only similar – it often disguised anti-Semitism as anti-Zionism, claiming anti-Zionism is but a form of criticism, and therefore justified. Such a development occurred in the U.N., as follows.
Until 1948 the Arab states depicted Zionism as an agent of “both Imperialism and Bolshevism” (despite the obvious contradiction between the two), and after 1948, with the tightening of ties between the Soviet Union and the Arab states – as “an imperialist conspiracy” against the unity in the Arab world. Indeed, the Soviet Union was the first to attack Zionism in its own territory as well as in the East-European countries practically subdued by her, in a series of mock-trials held in
At the end of the 50ties a wave of anti-Semitic acts, Swastika smearing and vandalism swept the world,
On March 1964 The U.N. Commission on Human Rights was drafting an international agreement intended to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination. The
A parallel and opposite process took place at the same time elsewhere – in the
formerly the Apostolic Nuncio in
and taken part in the rescue efforts carried out from Istanbul, thus understanding the Jewish plight, he managed to have – though after his death – the Second Ecumenical Council of 1965 decide upon absolving the Jewish people from its alleged responsibility for Jesus’ crucification, and the Jews being God’s first chosen people. Many generations would elapse before these decisions really sink into Christian mentality, but a courageous Pope took this first crucial step, and it has been carried on further by the present one.
The 1967 stunning defeat of the Arab countries that attacked Israel with ample support of the Soviet Union enhanced their attacks on Zionism: having realized that their advocation to destroy Israel does not work in their favor, they focused their efforts on depicting the Zionist movement and Israel in the most negative terms, first and foremost as racist. The Six Days War encouraged national feelings among Soviet Jews, and the Soviet regime reacted, much as the Arabs, by increasing the attacks on Zionism, allegedly an accomplice of the Nazi regime – in other words, as racist as a national movement can get. The Soviet tactic following 1967 used
support of the P.L.O (Palestine Liberation Organization) as a means to further their influence in the
Joint efforts of the Arab states and the
embargo as a weapon, they led to the first UNGA resolution connecting
The November 1975 resolution, determining “that Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination, was voted for by 72 countries, 35 opposed it and 32 abstained. Tough it was not a unanimous vote, and though it could have perhaps been avoided had other tactics been used in the weeks that preceded it –
the national movement of the Jewish people, and their singling out and isolation as the pariah among the nations; it also brought about a revival of anti-Semitism and as if gave it renewed justification. Last but certainly not least on the list of damages was a growing estrangement between Jews abroad and Israel, because identifying with her meant loosing grace with the surrounding society.
The 90ties witnessed a change of atmosphere: the downfall of the
Another decade started, in which the social and economic developments placed the issue of racism at the center stage, but this time not as a result of political maneuvers.
The process of globalization, namely the growing control that mega-companies and banks gained over the markets, the turning of the sophisticated parts of the world into a net, a “global village”, and the re-definition of nations in the former huge eastern block and in the re-united Germany – all caused waves of impoverished immigrants, flooding from the “poor south” – Far Asia, Africa and Latin America, into the “rich north” – north America, and western and central Europe. Their manual work is sorely needed, so that the educated locals could turn to the high-tec flourishing industries,
and where the population is aging. But their presence,
alien to the local cultures and social fabrics, makes for a growing problem. Indeed, the extreme right came back into the scene, violently reacting to what they regarded as an assault on the homogeneity of their homelands. The most striking example is the “Summer of Rostock”, when immigrants were burnt alive by German extreme right hooligans. New definitions and legislation were called for, to clarify and regulate relations between the newcomers and the countries that allowed their entrance.
The UN gathered a large-scale international conference in
Indeed, legislation against racism intensified during the 90ties, in an attempt to deter the extreme right from further violence, realizing the growing danger they constitute to democracies and to the public order. Further efforts were needed in order to limit the increase of hate-propaganda in the internet, whose importance as a vehicle of dissemination became crucial in the 90ties. Legislation against anti-Semitism increased as well, partly because Jewish organizations, encouraged by the change in atmosphere, intensified activity, and partly because east-European countries, just out of the Soviet yoke, were already anxious to join rich western organizations. In order for them to be accepted, they had to prove progress on the human rights front, that now included anti-Semitism under the inspection of UN members, the European Union and other international bodies. By 1995
specific laws against anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial, or mentioned them in others, mainly meant against racism. At the end of 1993 the Holy See signed a basic agreement with the state of
Since the 1993 UN Vienna conference was a failure, and other legislation or definitions of racism were slow to advance; and since the immigrants and foreign workers problems increased as their numbers swelled, 1997 was declared by the UN
the year of “struggle against racism”. This year, despite generous budgets showered on the NGO’s and on a long line of committees and commissions, ended in another failure, and in a decision to gather a world conference in
All in all, the Moslem growing presence in
The lack of proper legislation and definitions of racism, the complicated presence of
immigrants of all colors and origins, and the human rights issue turning into a “civil religion”, all blurred the concept of racism and it was widened to include all evil under the sun. Palestinian propaganda was not late in harnessing the blurred concept for their political struggle, and branded
signed a petition to this effect; conferences held in
When the conference ended the final draft of declarations and plans for action did not include any of the planned allegations; Israel was not banned or denounced; the Holocaust was written in the text with a capital H’, in a special clause recommending that it should never be forgotten; anti-Semitism was mentioned several times, alongside Islamophobia, as a despicable phenomenon; concern was expressed for the future of the Palestinians, and hopes for peaceful co-existence with Israel. It was an outstanding diplomatic victory, though it should be taken into consideration that the third world countries, realizing that the Middle Eastern issue was about to rob them of a long-planned conference on genuine racism and on compensations, were ready to back Israel as of the middle of the deliberations. The Arab world admitted that
did not need a formal resolution in order to catch up – these will not be erased for a long time.
Right now, at the
summer of 2003, following almost three years of severe increase in anti-Semitism in all its forms, another equation is on the agenda – Zionism=Nazism. It had already been used by Soviet propaganda and by extreme leftist, yet nowadays, as the atmosphere of the &0ties has made a comeback, it infiltrated into the discourse of mainstream organs of media, academia and politics, even among Jews and Israelis. And it is much more insulting, for being compared to Nazis means indeed being as racist as one can get.
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