Participants in the U.N. World Conference Against Racism are attempting to
resurrect the "Zionism is racism" charge against the State of Israel.
This offensive notion, which U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has denounced as
a "low point" in relations with Israel, is a concept based on hatred
and misunderstanding. Although rejected by the U.N. General Assembly in 1991,
efforts to resurrect the unfounded racism canards continue to this day.
The Anti-Defamation League is issuing a Call to Conscience for all
- Reject the misuse of the U.N. Conference to advance anti-Jewish hate and
The proposed declaration refers to "the Zionist movement
which is based on racial superiority," and brands "Zionist practices
against Semitism" as a form of racism.
Divisive and offensive efforts to criticize Israel and to
resurrect the old, discredited "Zionism = racism" language have no
place in the fight against racism and threaten to undermine the important work
of this conference. Furthermore, the concept of "Zionism – the national
self-determination movement of the Jewish people – as racism" was
repudiated by the United Nations in 1991. Indeed, Secretary-General Kofi Annan
has described resolution 3379 as the "low point" in United Nations
history whose negative effect on the organization is felt even today.
- Oppose assaults on Israel’s legitimacy
The proposed declaration singles out Israel for unique
criticism as "a foreign occupation founded on settlements, its laws based
on racial discrimination…, whose policies "constitute a serious violation
of international human rights and humanitarian law, a new kind of apartheid, a
crime against humanity and a serious threat to international peace and
The document labels Israel as a racist state -- challenging the right of the Jewish people to a homeland.
Regardless of differences about how to approach a solution to the Arab Israeli
conflict, simple branding of Israel’s existence as a form of
"racism" is misplaced and counterproductive to the cause of both
Middle East peace and the fight against racism.
- Unite against genocide without trivializing the Holocaust
Ironically, mention of the Holocaust has become a
controversial matter in the proposed declaration. The term has been downgraded
by spelling it with a lower-case "h" and pluralizing it as "holocaust(s)".
This trivializes the Holocaust and the memory of its victims. Just as terms like
genocide are used to describe specific events, the Holocaust was a unique
example of anti-Semitism leading to a state-engineered extermination of an
The U.N. conference should recognize the atrocities
perpetrated and the suffering inflicted on all victims of racism, racial
discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance without diminishing and
denying the uniqueness of the Holocaust.
- Fight to preserve the integrity and mission of the U.N. Conference
References to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have no place
in a conference on race. Furthermore, singling out Israel for attack and
politicizing the U.N. Conference undermines its humanitarian mission, and
deprives the most vulnerable victims of racism of an important opportunity. It
would be tragic to squander the hope and promise of progress for the sake of a
one-sided debate on just one of the world’s many political conflicts.
This conference can potentially provide an important
opportunity to move beyond the past and toward a shared vision of equality and
justice. This goal must not be diverted or influenced by external political
agendas or situations specific to one country, either in a negative or positive
manner. ADL has appealed to foreign ministers and President
George W. Bush, urging them to engage vigorously to promote a positive
agenda and reject hate rhetoric.
- Let Israelis and Palestinians negotiate between themselves
Middle East peace will not be moved forward by using the U.N.
Conference to criticize one side or another. Regardless of deeply held views on
all sides, a negotiated solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is beyond
the purview of the conference. Linking this conference to any political conflict
undermines the moral mission and could hamper negotiations on the ground.