UNITED NATIONS (Oct. 18)
Almost 15 years after the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution equating Zionism with racism, the first official step toward its repeal was taken by Jewish non-governmental agencies affiliated with the United Nations.
A petition submitted Wednesday to Assembly President Guido de Marco, Malta’s foreign minister, says the controversial resolution “maligned the Jewish people by equating its liberation movement, Zionism, with racism and racial discrimination.”
The petition, which will be sent on to member states to call for the resolution’s repeal in the General Assembly, says “the time has come for the U.N. to cleanse itself of this grotesque libel.”
But Israeli officials said they would not want it taken to a vote until a comfortable majority was assured in the General Assembly. Several nations that abstained or voted in favor of the resolution in 1975 have indicated their original vote no longer holds true, and thus the resolution might be able to pass with a slim majority.
“We would like to repeal it as soon as possible but we are now trying to prepare the ground. Until we are sure we have a majority, we shouldn’t risk another defeat in the General Assembly,” said Aaron Yakov, an official at the Israeli mission to the United Nations.
Harris Schoenberg, director of U.N. Affairs for B’nai B’rith International and chairman of the Jewish U.N. caucus, said Wednesday’s petition was timed to coincide with the 15th anniversary of the adoption of the resolution by the third committee of the United Nations. The final vote took place Nov. 10, 1975, in the General Assembly.
“I think people realize now a terrible mistake was done and it’s time to repeal it within the context of the United Nations as part of the United Nation’s move toward being a place of greater cooperation rather than confrontation,” said Schoenberg.
For years, Jewish and Israeli groups have wanted the United Nations to repeal the “Zionism equals racism,” but the movement took on greater strength last December when Vice President Dan Quayle announced the start of a specific campaign for its repeal.
However, the Gulf crisis and the United Nation’s focus on forcing Iraq to withdraw from Kuwait, which it invaded Aug. 2, makes chances of any repeal this session doubtful, Jewish leaders said.
“But I can tell you that the U.N. Secretary-General told us that within the limits of his position, he would be as helpful as possible on this issue,” said Elan Steinberg, executive director of the World Jewish Congress.