With All Due Cynicism: The UN and Anti-Semitism

This isn’t the type of post I like to write. I generally try to stick to more academic issues and avoid writing about Israel’s situation in the world, if only because others are far better at it than I am.

But sometimes absurdity simply cries out for an answer. I speak, of course, of the UN holding a meeting to decry anti-Semitism. This is the same UN that has consistently allowed its name and instruments to be used for the demonization of Israel; the same UN that has, via its repeated votes to demonize Israel, put its official seal of approval on the notion that a people comprising less than 1% of the global population is responsible for 98% of the world’s ills. It’s the same UN that served as the name behind—if not the sponsor of—the infamous “anti-racism conference” which devolved into an anti-Semitic rally in Durban, South Africa, in 2001.

And it’s the same UN that has institutionalized a long-range program of genocide by perpetuating the Palestinian-Arab refugee problem unto the tenth generation, preventing the absorption of these refugees in any Arab state, and instead keeping them in squalor and ignorance, to be used as a demographic weapon against Israel (never mind the fact that all other refugees, including a similar number of Jews from Arab lands, have been allowed to resettle and move on.)

In short, this is the same UN that has been the instigator, the venue, and the imprimatur for much of the world’s anti-Semitism. Let’s not forget that it was the UN that voted as recently as 1975 that the age-old devotion of Jews to their ancient homeland was “racism”! Although the resolution was later repealed, the organization’s institutional reputation has never recovered.

At the risk of being accused of undue cynicism, I have to wonder if it isn’t anti-Semitism that worries the UN, but only unofficial anti-Semitism—anti-Semitism that does not originate inside the august committees of the UN, that does not bear the UN stamp of approval. Only official anti-Semitism is permissible. When anti-Semitism is used by corrupt dictatorships to redirect the ire of their own people, it is OK. When it’s used to keep the poor of a country in poverty, it’s OK. But when it takes to the streets of Europe, then it is not OK. When it threatens to drive Europe’s Jews to leave, it’s not OK.

Why? Surely not because Europe loves its Jews! I think the events of 70 years ago have disabused us of that naive notion, if a thousand years of pogroms had not done so already. No, the problem is that there are only two places in the world for the Jews of Europe to seek safety, and one of those places is Israel. Could it be that what really worries the great moralists of the UN is not that a mass flight of Jews will impoverish Europe, but that they will enrich Israel? So it has been in the past: Jewish refugees from persecution invariably bring blessing upon the country that takes them in and gives them a home. This was already an established historical fact in 1492 when the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire welcomed the Jews who were expelled from Spain.

Undue cynicism, did I say? No. Sadly, where the UN is concerned, cynicism is entirely appropriate.

About the Author
Yael Shahar has spent most of her career working in counter-terrorism and intelligence, with brief forays into teaching physics and astronomy. She now divides her time between writing, off-road trekking, and learning Talmud with anyone who will sit still long enough. She is the author of Returning, a haunting exploration of Jewish memory, betrayal, and redemption.
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