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International Affairs   
Israel at the UN: Progress Amid A History of Bias
Early Biases
September 2010

Early Biases
Resolutions 242 and 338
The Oslo Years: A Warming Atmosphere
1995-2000: Bias Resurfaces
2000–2004: U.N. Anti-Israel Bias and Anti-Semitism
2005–Present: Positive Developments, But Old Patterns Continue
Human Rights Council
U.N. on Holocaust Denial and Anti-Semitism

It is ironic that the United Nations is often viewed as a forum for the delegitmization of the State of Israel, considering that the international body played a pivotal role in the establishment of the Jewish State.

In fact, the U.N. laid the essential groundwork for the establishment of Israel by passing U.N. Resolution 181 in 1947, which called for the partition of British Mandate Palestine into two states, one Jewish and one Arab. Following Israel's independence in 1948, the Jewish State became an official member of the international body.

Since that time, however, the U.N. has more often than not demonstrated hostility and antagonism toward Israel by disproportionately criticizing Israeli policies, singling out Israel for human rights offenses, and prohibiting Israel from the full participation enjoyed by other members.

Since Israel’s establishment, Arab member states of the U.N. have used the GA as a forum for isolating and chastising Israel. With support from third-world nations, particularly the Non-Aligned Group, and others, the Arab states have had little difficulty passing harsh anti-Israel resolutions through the GA. Even today, the strength of these groups in the world body allows them to continue rebuking Israel. While anti-Israel resolutions are easily passed in the GA, this is not the case in the Security Council, where resolutions are binding in nature, as the United States has consistently used its veto power to prevent the passage of such resolutions.

In the 1970s the Arab bloc used its power to establish several U.N. committees and divisions of the Secretariat which primarily carry out the anti-Israel agenda. Among these are: The Division for Palestinian Rights of the Secretariat; The Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices in the Territories; and The Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.  Today, these bodies continue to be deeply engaged in promoting programs and initiatives that are harshly critical of Israel.

Some U.N. agencies have also exhibited anti-Israel sentiments. For example, between 1974 and 1978 the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) instituted financial sanctions against Israel, passed hundreds of resolutions criticizing Israel‘s activities in the West Bank, and denounced Israel's archeological and restoration efforts in Jerusalem.

Among the most harmful anti-Israel U.N. resolutions was the notorious General Assembly Resolution 3379, equating Zionism with racism, which passed in November 1975 by a vote of 72 to 35. That resolution declared “Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination... [and] is a threat to world peace and security. “The resolution was meant to deny Israel's political legitimacy by attacking the moral basis for its existence. This resolution remained on the books for many years until it was finally repealed in December 1991, following the Madrid Conference, as a goodwill gesture in support of Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts. Former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan called Resolution 3379 the low point in Jewish-U.N. relations.

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