As Jews around the world and in Israel prepared to commemorate the Holocaust this month, a disturbing narrative was being broadcast at the United Nations.
Speaking to the press, Palestinian Ambassador Riyad Mansour invoked the resistance fighters of the Warsaw Uprising, equating the Israeli government to the genocidal Nazi regime.
The deafening silence of the UN Secretary General, the European Union, and US Ambassador Samantha Power, among others, evidently served to encourage the proliferation of more hateful statements, when, days later, Venezuela’s U.N.’s Ambassador Rafael Ramirez suggested that Security Council members ask themselves whether Israel was planning a “Final Solution” against the Palestinian people.
After criticism by a few U.N. member states, Ambassador Ramirez released an apology for his libelous statements on May 11th that further inflamed tensions by invoking the ages-old meme of a “lobby” (code for Jewish lobby) that was “manipulating” his remarks.
Those Security Council members who did not publicly condemn these odious comparisons of Israel to the Nazi regime might want to recall that Kofi Annan, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon’s enlightened predecessor, said that “the Holocaust of the Jews” was “unique” in history— unique, because the Nazis sought to exterminate all Jews from the face of the Earth. We Jews did not have the option of making peace with our enemies. We were slaughtered simply because we were Jews. In stark contrast, Israelis do not seek to destroy the Palestinians based on their religion, race or character. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a war over land and conflicts over real estate can, and should, be solved through compromise rather than incitement.
We Jews had no ambassador to plead our case as one third of the world’s Jews were systematically annihilated by those who refused to recognize our right to live, let alone in a sovereign state.
While the Nazis exterminated 6 million innocent Jews, including 1 million Jewish children, during the Holocaust, since the occupation, in Gaza alone, the population has increased 600 percent.
Conflating Gaza and the West Bank with the Nazi occupation of Warsaw and comparing the Israelis to Nazis, is a cynical manipulation of history that trivializes Jewish suffering and delegitimizes a UN member state. Such hate-filled invective has no place in an institution founded on the ashes of the Holocaust and funded by U.S. tax dollars.
Subsequent to Ambassador Mansour’s remarks, UN member states might want to ask themselves the following:
Were the Jews of the Warsaw Ghetto offered peace proposals by the Nazis as the Palestinians have been time and time again by successive Israeli Prime Ministers?
Did the Nazis unilaterally withdraw from any territories so Jews could achieve statehood as was done for the Palestinians in Gaza and proposed in the West Bank?
Did Jewish resistance fighters use their children and schools as human shields, as Palestinians do with impunity?
Comparing recent Palestinian knife, gun and car-ramming terror attacks against Israeli civilians to the Jews who resisted the Nazis’ “final solution” (which included transporting what remained of the Warsaw Ghetto population to Treblinka extermination camp) is an abuse of the UN platform and should be condemned in the strongest possible terms by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.
A U.N. that prides itself on teaching “the lessons of the Holocaust”—and a Secretary General who visited Auschwitz—should know, and do, better
Arab attacks on Jews predate any occupation and it is the Hamas charter that reads like a modern-day Mein Kampf. Hamas declares repeatedly in its broadcasts, that “Jews and Christians should be exterminated to the last one of them.”
Both the U.S. State Department and The European Parliamentary Working Group on Anti-Semitism include “Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis” in their definitions of anti-Semitism. As such, Ambassador Mansour’s press conference has no place being disseminated on the UN website and should be immediately removed.
At the January 22, 2015 historic meeting of the General Assembly, convened to address the rise in Antisemitism worldwide, more than 40 U.N. member states jointly called for the UN to hold a follow-up conference on anti-Semitism as part of the “unlearning intolerance” series started in 2004. To date, the Department of Public Information has failed to schedule the conference.
Rather than affording a platform for those who would defile the Holocaust, the UN would do well to recall the words of the Prophet Isaiah, who proclaimed (5:20):
“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.”
Rabbi Potasnik is Executive Director of the New York Board of Rabbis. He is a son of Holocaust survivors.