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'U.N. ignores its purpose' in fight against anti-Semitism, says Israeli envoy

Erdan addresses U.N. Holocaust Remembrance ceremony just before report of terror attack

Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan speaks during UN Holocaust Memorial Ceremony at the UN General Assembly Hall in New York, Jan. 27, 2023. (Photo: Lev Radin/Sipa USA)

Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Gilad Erdan addressed the U.N. Holocaust Remembrance ceremony on Friday night, shortly before the first reports of the shooting attack in Jerusalem, which cost seven Jewish lives, were released. 

Speaking to the gathered dignitaries, Erdan reminded them that the violence starts with words. 

“The Holocaust began with words, words that quickly mutated into unspeakable violence. And now, only 78 years after the liberation of Auschwitz, these same words of baseless hatred are once again spreading across the globe like wildfire,” he said. 

Erdan contrasted the situation today with the days of the Holocaust, saying, “Today, thank God, unlike during the horrors of the Holocaust, there is a Jewish state, a place for every Jew to call home.” 

He also called on the U.N. body to remember why the organization was founded. 

“The U.N. was founded upon the ashes of the Holocaust. It was established to ensure such darkness never befell humanity again. It is a living monument to the horrors suffered by the Jewish people all those decades ago,” he said. “As such, it is the U.N.’s responsibility to lead the world in combating hatred.” 

The international body fails in this responsibility, the ambassador charged. 

“Today, when it comes to fighting anti-Semitism, sadly, the U.N. ignores its purpose,” he said, blasting the bias among many member states. 

“There’s a politicized – we all know it – and an institutionalized bias among member states. This bias is the source of the disproportionate number of anti-Israel resolutions. It is also the force behind the inherent distortions, such as the Human Rights Council’s anti-Semitic agenda ‘Item 7,’ mandating Israel-bashing at every council session,” he said. 

On a near-annual basis, the U.N. General Assembly condemns Israel more than all other countries combined. Israel is also the only country with a mandated agenda item at every session of the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva. 

However, the attacks against Israel go beyond mere criticism of a nation, Erdan said. 

“Singling out the one and only Jewish state, yes, it is anti-Semitism. And on Holocaust Remembrance Day, it is our duty to call out this heinous double standard,” Erdan said to applause.  

Erdan also condemned UNRWA, a U.N. organization uniquely dedicated to the issue of Palestinian refugees and their descendants, for the “blatant anti-Semitism and Nazi glorification” among its employees.

“What has the U.N. done to combat this bigotry?” he asked. “Despicable actions take place here that no amount of Holocaust outrage can atone for.”

The ambassador highlighted two U.N. employees who had no disciplinary action taken against them for making anti-Semitic statements: Miloon Kothari and Francesca Albanese. 

Erdan said that other U.N. agencies distort casualty figures in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by minimizing Israeli deaths, while accepting Palestinian figures without question. 

Reported Palestinian casualty numbers often conflate civilian and terrorist casualties.

Erdan previously addressed this issue of mischaracterizing casualty numbers.

The ambassador also chastised the U.N. for not adopting the widely accepted International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance Working Definition of Antisemitism. 

The non-legally binding definition states: “Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.” 

The IHRA provides examples to help in the determination of particular cases. 

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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