Some relevant parts:
Many assume that UN Resolution 3379, equating Zionism with racism, originated in 1975. In March 1964, however, this analogy appeared in discussions that took place at the UN Sub-Commission on the Prevention of Discrimination and the Protection of Minorities (a part of the Third Committee that dealt with social, humanitarian, and cultural matters).6 During these deliberations, Israel was outmaneuvered and never recovered the ground it lost. Yohanan Manor, former director-general of the Jewish Agency’s Information Department, capably recounted how this happened in his pioneering monograph, To Right a Wrong. Nonetheless, the subject needs to be revisited. What happened in 1964 and 1965 represents an essential piece of the story and therefore merits a careful second look.Here we see a direct, intentional link between the origins of calling Israel racist and unapologetic antisemitism.
In March 1964, the US, which was motivated by the needs of domestic politics, namely the presidential election campaign between Lyndon B. Johnson and Barry Goldwater, proposed that the Third Committee of the UN recognize antisemitism as a form of racism, along with apartheid and Nazism.8 For its part, the Soviet Union was determined to prevent any discussion of the subject, not the least because the Soviets were antisemites. As a matter of official state policy, the Soviet Union used antisemitism to discriminate against, intimidate, and persecute Soviet Jewry. Seeking to remove the subject from the agenda, the representatives of the USSR at the UN warned the US that if the Americans did not drop the matter, they would submit their own amendment condemning Zionism and Nazism. In October 1965, when the final draft of the convention prepared by the Commission on Human Rights again came under discussion in the UN Sub-Commission on the Prevention of Discrimination and the Protection of Minorities, the US and Brazil introduced an amendment to condemn antisemitism. In turn, the Soviet Union called for the condemnation of “antisemitism, Zionism, Nazism, neoNazism, and all forms of the policy and ideology of colonialism, national and race-hatred, and exclusiveness and shall take action as appropriate for the speedy eradication of those misanthropic ideas and practices in the territories subject to their jurisdiction.” At this point, the delegates of Greece and Hungary proposed an amendment that broke the impasse by moving to drop all reference to any 77 Joel Fishman specific kind of discrimination. This proposal was accepted, and effectively the matter was dropped, despite an unsuccessful effort in 1967 to revive the issue.
Dr. Meir Rosenne, who served as consul of Israel in New York from 1961 to 1967, delivered an important address in 1984 at a World Zionist Organization Information Department seminar held at the US State Department. Later, in 1987, Judge Hadassa Ben Itto went on record with a solid interview. These first-person sources are valuable not only because of the facts they contain but also because the individuals who gave them possessed a broad perspective and understood the importance of this episode. Each of these accounts conveys a sense of the contemporary mood. In view of their significance, they are cited at length. Ambassador Rosenne explained:Among my duties at the time was to serve as Israel’s observer in New York at various United Nations deliberations on human rights. In the context of human rights, our chief concern then was the plight of Soviet Jewry— which, I must insist, remains a high priority for us.One of the UN organs—the Sub-Commission on the Prevention of Discrimination and the Protection of Minorities—after weeks of bitter debate and negotiation drafted a “Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.”
That forgotten episode ironically has a serious impact on the subsequent evolution of world opinion and international law regarding Israel and Zionism. This is how it happened.
Early in the discussions [c. March 1965], the Sub-Comission quickly agreed to adopt a special Article condemning apartheid as a form of racism as [were] Nazism and neo-Nazism.
Because the Holocaust was still fresh in the minds of human rights advocates—and also because of an appalling worldwide epidemic of antisemitic incidents in the early 1960s—the American representative [Marietta Peabody Tree] during the debate in the Human Rights Commission proposed the explicit condemnation of antisemitism in this draft UN Convention.
The Soviet representative, staunchly supported by the other East European experts, countered this move by submitting an amendment that would have added the word “Zionism” to the list of forms of racism to be condemned.
This gave rise to a bitter discussion that culminated in a compromise, to wit: References to all specific forms of racism (except apartheid) were to be dropped from the draft.
The very same exercise was repeated later that year [October 1965] in the Third Committee (the Social Committee) of the UN General Assembly.
With this clever tactic, the USSR for the first time injected its own ideology and propaganda on Zionism and Judaism onto a world stage. In this, Moscow won a double victory:
(1) It prevented the explicit definition of antisemitism as a form of racism— and thus succeeded in downgrading the moral, political, and symbolic weight that a condemnation of Jew-hatred would have carried throughout the world.
(2) It established the precedent for linking Zionism with Nazism, which led to the overwhelming adoption by the UN General Assembly, eleven years later, of the resolution that equated Zionism with racism [UNGA Resolution 3379 of November 10, 1975]. It is essential to remember this history and to keep the record straight: In 1975 it was certainly the Arab states that took the initiative with this resolution. But it is the Soviet Union that is the source of this evil doctrine.
Judge Ben Itto also witnessed this episode. ...In a 1987 interview, Ben Itto recounted the facts...The Russians know that they are anti-Semites, and emphatically didn’t want antisemitism specifically pinpointed, “because they too would have to join that club of racists before the world.”
The Russians wanted not even the merest mention of antisemitism, but they wanted to accomplish this goal without having to vote on the issue. So they latched onto the idea as a technical maneuver of insisting that if antisemitism was named as a form of racism, then Zionism must also be listed as a form of racism.
…. Behind the scenes the Russians did not at all seriously argue the proposition that Zionism is racism—“it was almost a joke. They said that they were only suggesting the idea to get the Americans off their antisemitism kick.” Clearly, she says, at first the Russians knew full well that the idea that Zionism is racism is an indefensible proposition.
(h/t Daled Amos)
We have lots of ideas, but we need more resources to be even more effective. Please donate today to help get the message out and to help defend Israel.