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The United Nations General Assembly: Key Issues for 2011

Posted: September 19, 2011

On September 21, heads of state, foreign ministers and other representatives will meet at the United Nations for the General Debate of the 66th General Assembly.

The headlines of the week will likely involve the machinations surrounding the
Palestinian bid to seek membership in the United Nations.

As usual,
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will be speaking from the General Assembly podium (on September 22) and his address will likely again include incendiary anti-Semitic, anti-West, anti-Israel declarations.

Also on September 22, the United Nations will hold a commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the infamous Durban Conference, the 2001 U.N. World Conference Against Racism, which was marred by anti-Semitism and extreme anti-Israel sentiment. A number of countries, including the United States, Canada, Israel, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Australia, Austria, the Czech Republic, and the United Kingdom, have said they will not participate.

ADL will be meeting with numerous international dignitaries over the course of the week to raise issues of concern about these and other matters vitally important to our work.

Israel-Palestinian Relations:

  • The international community must reject Palestinian plans to seek recognition of a unilaterally declared state at the United Nations, urge the Palestinian Authority to separate itself from Hamas, and demand that they resume direct negotiations with Israel.
  • The international community must demand the release of Sgt. Gilad Shalit, who has been held captive by Hamas since June 2006.
  • The international community must continue its policy of isolating Hamas until it has met the basic conditions of renouncing violence, accepting Israel's right to exist and the existing agreements between Israel and the PLO.


  • The international community must do all it can to ensure that Iran does not develop nuclear weapons capability. Nuclear weapons in the hands of this increasingly radical and reckless regime would lead to a dangerous geo-strategic shift in the Middle East potentially leading to a nuclear arms race in the region.
  • The international community must enact additional sanctions that impact Iran's ability to sell oil.
  • Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has used the platform of the U.N. to make incendiary anti-Semitic and extreme anti-Israel proclamations. Responsible member countries of the United Nations must make clear these statements are not acceptable. We encourage responsible countries to exit the General Assembly before the Iranian President speaks, and to investigate what possible action the U.N. might take if Mr. Ahmadinejad again uses the podium to spout hate and threats.

Anti-Israel Bias at the U.N.:

  • Responsible members of the General Assembly must end the annual anti-Israel ritual in which twenty-plus redundant and incendiary anti-Israel resolutions are passed blindly, year after year, and dismantle the "Palestinian infrastructure" within the United Nations focused specifically on an anti-Israel agenda. Responsible members of the Human Rights Council (HRC) must work to remove the Israel-specific agenda item from the permanent agenda.
  • Members of the HRC must also move expeditiously to review the mandate of the Special Rapporteur "on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967," which is inherently biased against Israel. In its current form, the Special Rapporteur's mandate is focused solely on Israeli activities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The current office-holder, Richard Falk, is a notorious critic of Israel, who has compared Israeli treatment of Palestinians to the Nazis treatment of Jews during the Holocaust. 
  • Israel must be allowed to join the Western European and Others Group (WEOG) in Geneva.  


  • ADL is concerned by continued anti-Semitic hate violence in Europe, Latin America and elsewhere and the presence of blatant anti-Semitism in anti-Israel discourse and demonstrations.  Attacks on Jews and Jewish institutions must be condemned and perpetrators prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.  Combating anti-Semitism should be a national priority.  Governments must send a strong signal that there is no acceptable justification for anti-Semitic speech or action even if it is cloaked in criticism of Israel. 
  • ADL continues to closely monitor manifestations of anti-Semitism in the Arab and Muslim world.   Real and sustained progress in Arab-Israeli peace efforts will only be possible when Jews and Judaism, Israel and Israelis, are not demonized using age-old anti-Semitic themes and images.   
  • We urge governments to implement meaningful laws and policies to monitor, address and prevent hate crime and to support the continued focus of the OSCE on combating anti-Semitism and broader efforts against hate crime that targets all groups.
  • Governments must promote effective Holocaust remembrance and education and fight back against the perversions of memory.  The use of Nazi imagery to depict the Jewish state revitalizes anti-Semitic myths that have plagued the Jewish people. We urge the international community to support proactive, meaningful Holocaust remembrance and education that will address modern day anti-Semitism.  Expand these efforts at home and support the work of the International Task Force, the OSCE and United Nations efforts internationally.   
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