The Knesset commemorated the historic speech given by then ambassador to the United Nations Chaim Herzog on November 10, 1975, in which he denounced General Assembly Resolution 3379 that declared Zionism a form of racism.
That day coincided with the 37th anniversary Kristallnacht, or the Night of Shattered Glass, in Germany. The resolution was adopted by a 72-35 vote with 32 abstentions and remained in place until it was revoked in 1991, by which time Herzog was Israel’s sixth president.
Knesset Speaker Yuli-Yoel Edelstein opened the special plenary session by saying that even after all the time that has passed, ”the UN is once again proving its deep detachment from what is happening in our region [and presents] its biased approach to the conflict here.”
”Today, 24 years after the UN annulled the miserable resolution which compared Zionism to racism, the UN is leading, in practice, a clear anti-Israel approach, which at times is no less severe than that decision regarding Zionism. In many ways, nothing has changed after 40 years. Israel is still slandered and boycotted all across the world, and nonsense and incitement indirectly or directly encourage the hatred and the attacks against [Israel],” Edelstein told the plenum.
”Today, as in the past, we do not plan on remaining silent about the dissemination of lies which slander the Jewish nation and the State of Israel. If we are destined to remain in the minority position, we will never stop fighting for our justice, our rights and our morality, in the spirit of the determination and courage that were displayed by Chaim Herzog on the UN stage.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in his speech that Resolution 3379 marked an ”unprecedented moral nadir” for the UN, which ”provided a platform for the libel of racism, turning into an organization that perpetuates the lines of division between states.”
”Not only does it not help in finding solutions, it has deepened the conflicts and stood on the side of tyranny against democracy,” he said.
The prime minister said the Zionism is racism resolution was a ”watershed moment” in the history of anti-Semitism, in that previously, hatred of Jews arose in one country or another, but this was the first time an international body was used to that end.”
In the 40 years since Herzog’s speech, Netanyahu stated, ”the impression of deep polarity that was inherent in that day has not been dulled” The PM argued that, though the resolution was canceled in 1991, ”the trend of hostility to Israel in UN institutions continues to this day. The pattern of automatic votes against Israel continues. There are factors in the UN who seek to condemn us at every opportunity.”
Opposition leader Isaac Herzog (Zionist Camp) told the plenum that his father’s speech defended Israel’s values as a democracy.
”Forty years later,” he said, ”the State of Israel is fighting for its existence and international standing. To this day, there are still some around the world who seek to destroy us and our spectacular project…To this day, our enemies doubt the justice of our existence and our natural and historic right to self-determination.”
”They didn’t know what BDS was then, but it was the same,” Herzog remarked. ”Israel is dealing with terrorism and orchestrated international delegitimization.”
He stated that the efforts to fight terrorism cannot allow Israel to change its character and its Jewish and democratic values.
”There are values that cannot be disputed, no matter what attack we are under. We must remember each day what are the values on which the State of Israel was established and by which it acts,” Herzog said, and read from the Declaration of Independence, calling it ”not only our founding document, but our defensive shield.”
Herzog spoke out against a populist and violent discourse, saying it is ”making us sometimes forget that left and right, religious and secular, we are all Israelis. We all love this country the same amount, we all defend it together and are willing to give our lives for it.
”As my father, may he rest in peace, said in that speech 40 years ago, words that are reinforced today: ‘We will stand as a united front against those who seek to destroy us, and remind all those who seek to boycott us, isolate us and destroy us, that we will not stand idly by in the face of those heinous attempts`.”
At the end of his speech, Chaim Herzog tore up the resolution on the podium before the UN General Assembly.
”For us, the Jewish people, this is no more than a piece of paper and we shall treat it as such,” he said.
The decision, he told the gathering, was ”conceived in the desire to deflect the Middle East from its moves toward peace and born of a deep pervading feeling of anti-Semitism”
”It is sobering to consider to what level this body has been dragged down if we are obliged today to contemplate an attack on Zionism. For this attack constitutes not only an anti-Israeli attack of the foulest type, but also an assault in the United Nations on Judaism,” Herzog stated.
”The resolution against Zionism was originally one condemning racism and colonialism, a subject on which we could have achieved consensus,” he added. ”However, instead of permitting this to happen, a group of countries, drunk with the feeling of power inherent in the automatic majority and without regard to the importance of achieving a consensus on this issue, railroaded the UN in a contemptuous maneuver by the use of the automatic majority into bracketing Zionism with the subject under discussion.”
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