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Moynihan, Pickering Denounce U.N. on Anniversary of Zionism Resolution

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Sen. Patrick Moynihan, former ambassador to the United Nations, remembers that day 15 years ago when this “obscene resolution,” the one equating Zionism with racism, passed the U.N. General Assembly while he watched in dismay and indignation.

“It was a slander and a falsehood,” he said, echoing the words of current U.S. Ambassador Thomas Pickering, who spoke minutes before. “It is, unless we can stand in its way, the most crippling blow yet dealt in the irreversible decline of the concern with human rights as we know it.”

Speaking at a news conference Thursday sponsored by the American Jewish Committee and held at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, Moynihan railed against those who would delay trying to have the resolution repealed.

“I don’t know why we don’t press it,” he said. “You don’t say ahead of time that we don’t want to lose, so we aren’t going to even see if we can win.”

A few weeks ago, the U.N. Caucus of Jewish Nongovernmental Organizations, led by B’nai B’rith International, petitioned the General Assembly to repeal the resolution, saying “the time has come for the U.N. to cleanse itself of this grotesque libel.”

The democratization of Eastern Europe has brought changes conducive to a change in voting among the countries that, for the most part, supported the resolution in 1975.

REVERSING ITS POSITION

The Soviet Union has indicated it might vote against the resolution in a second round, while the president of Czechoslovakia, Vaclav Havel, told officials during a trip to Israel that his government had reversed its position.

But both Israeli and U.S. officials have stressed they are not in favor of bringing the resolution to a second vote this year because its repeal is not yet assured, especially in light of the Gulf crisis and the recent Security Council resolutions condemning Israel.

“We must be careful not to bring a vote prematurely because any lost vote would be a reaffirmation,” said Pickering. “There is a consensus that the time now is not right.”

Pickering said the United States was actively campaigning on this issue, and was telling Arab countries — all of which voted in favor of the resolution — that to revoke the resolution would aid the Middle East peace process by sending a signal of reconciliation.

“The U.S. has always stated its position clearly and forcefully many, many times,” he said. “It was a falsehood, anti-Semitic and a slander of mammoth proportion.”

Moynihan and others speaking at the conference said the resolution was the start of a degrading period in the history of the United Nations, one that gave legitimacy to anti-Semitism while stripping the United Nations of much of its moral authority to act in the Middle East.

The new Israeli ambassador to the United Nations, Yoram Aridor, referring to the anti-Semitic policies of Nazi Germany that led to the death of 6 million Jews, said: “Anti-Semitism can’t be divided from anti-Zionism, and anti- ? ? ? breast of Jewish people.”

Aridor, who often intersperses his public remarks with quotations from books, reminded listeners of the words of popular Israeli author Amos Oz, explaining that if anything was learned from the Holocaust, it was that words can be potent weapons.

“Generations before the birth of Hitler, mass murderers already knew that you must first corrupt the words before you can corrupt those who use the words, so that they may be capable of murder in the guise of purification. . .We must treat words like hand grenades,” said Aridor, quoting from Oz.

Nov. 10 marks the 15th anniversary of the passage of U.N. Resolution 3379, which was adopted by a vote of 72-35 with 32 abstentions. Countries voting in favor included the Soviet Union and its satellite states, along with many of the non-aligned states.

AJCommittee issued a special publication for the event, “Anti-Zionism: The Sophisticated Anti-Semitism,” and officials called on people to continue fighting against the resolution.

“There may be tactical questions about the best time to hold a vote to repeal 3379,” said Sholom Comay, president of the AJC, in a statement released to the press. “But there is never a wrong time to speak out against anti-Semitism and bigotry.”

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