The UN on Holocaust Remembrance Day: Where’s the ‘never’ in the ‘never again’?

Thursday, May 5 is Holocaust Remembrance Day or “Yom Hashoah,” an occasion to remember and mourn the unique horror that resulted in the murder of 6 million Jews including one million children – unfathomable numbers that still shock the conscience of humankind.  Except at the United Nations.  Though the UN was built on the ashes of the Jewish people, in our time this organization plays a disturbing role in advancing antisemitism.

Antisemitism works in many ways.  Devotees deny or minimize its very existence. Instead, they appropriate the suffering of their targets and invert the genuine victim and the actual perpetrator. The U.N. of the 21st century does all of this.

On April 27, 2016, the Palestinian’s UN representative Riyadh Mansour, held a press conference at UN headquarters in New York.

He said: “If you throw a stone…if you throw it at a moving car of the army or the terrorist settlers, they send you to jail for 20 years, and yet their representative in the Security Council…he paints them as terrorists. Guess what. All colonizers, all occupiers including those who suppressed the Warsaw uprising labelled those who were resisting them as terrorists.”

Jewish victims of Palestinian rock-throwers have been maimed for life with catastrophic brain injuries or have died as their cars careened out of control.  According to the Palestinian spokesman, however, Israelis are like Nazis and Palestinians are their victims.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has been asked to condemn Mansour’s comments and to remove them from the UN website where they are now broadcast around the world 24/7 – because, for starters, these comments contradict the essence of the U.N. Charter.  But the Secretary-General has refused to do so.

This is not an isolated incident.  UN headquarters – visited by millions of American school children – hosts a Holocaust exhibit and also a Palestinian exhibit that is a model of historical revisionism. The Palestinians have succeeded in having the two exhibits placed side-by-side.

The UN has a webpage called “UN response to acts of terrorism.”  It is continually updated and the current version covers acts from November 2015 to April 2016. The site lists terror attacks that took place in the following states: Afghanistan, Belgium, Burkina Faso, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, France, Indonesia, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Mali, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, and Turkey.  Israel doesn’t make the cut.

At the U.N., modern antisemitism is apparently a victimless crime.

The Holocaust teaches that when evil people come first for the Jews, they do not stop with the Jews.  And indeed, identifying the victims and perpetrators of terrorism at the UN is a deeper problem.

The UN’s Counter-Terrorism Committee, the UN’s lead counter-terrorism vehicle created in the wake of 9/11, has never named a single terrorist, terrorist organization or state sponsor of terrorism.

To this day, the UN has no definition of terrorism because Islamic states insist on a capacious exemption clause for “armed struggle against foreign occupation, aggression, colonialism, and hegemony, aimed at liberation and self-determination.”  Targets legitimized on this rationale go far beyond Israelis.

Aversion to using the word “terrorism” has made countering “violent extremism” the hottest fad.  And right on cue, the Secretary-General’s first-ever “Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism” – presented in January 2016 – begins with the caveat that “violent extremism” is “without clear definition” and its meaning is “the prerogative of Member states.”  

Jews are not the only losers when one’s man violent extremist is another man’s stone-throwing, suicide-bombing pacifist – or another man’s frustrated, underappreciated youth with nothing better to do than stab, rape, pillage or cut off heads.

In full knowledge that hundreds of Israelis have been killed or injured during the Palestinian’s latest “knife intifada,” Ban Ki-moon deliberately poured fuel on the fire. He told the Security Council in January that: “security measures alone will not stop the violence…Palestinian frustration is growing…it is human nature to react…”

Then in April at a conference on violent extremism, Ban Ki-moon said while talking about ISIS and Boko Haram: “we must put prevention first. Evidence shows that security and military responses alone cannot defeat this scourge…[V]iolent extremism flourishes when aspirations for inclusion are frustrated…[and] young people lack prospects…”

All Western democratic states seeking to eradicate the scourge of terrorism driven by bigots are negatively affected by the UN’s denigration of security priorities, the vilification of the necessities of self-defense, and the promulgation of false victimization narratives that undermine efforts to protect civilian lives.  

The U.N. is also holding Holocaust remembrance day events – where talk of modern antisemitism will be assiduously avoided.  

But those who are serious about never again will do the reverse.  Civilized societies came perilously close to Nazi global domination after turning their back on the Jews. The forces of intolerance who seek global domination today cannot be defeated if we turn our back on the people of Israel.

Anne Bayefsky is director of the Touro Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust. Follow her on Twitter @AnneBayefsky.

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