The United Nations marked the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II with a resolution commemorating the “untold sorrows and ravages to mankind” wrought by the war, and “those who fought against dictatorship, oppression, racism and aggression.”
The resolution, sponsored by Russia and adopted by a consensus of the General Assembly on Wednesday, noted the “tens of millions of those who perished in their towns and villages, on the battlefields and in the death camps in a genocide.”
But the statement omitted any specific reference to the Holocaust, despite persistent efforts by Israel to include it, according to Israel’s U.N. Ambassador Gad Yaacobi.
“This resolution does not mention the Holocaust, but I must,” he said in a short but dramatic statement to the General Assembly immediately prior to the resolution’s adoption. The ambassador said he must make specific reference to the Holocaust “for the six million whose voices have been forever silenced. For the Jewish people. For the state of Israel. And for future generations.”
Nevertheless, Israel did not oppose the resolution “because we understood that in order for it to be approved by consensus, as the Russians wanted it, everything in the text had to be universal,” said one Israeli diplomat. No “horrors” and be “singled out” without triggering political conflict, he said.
In his remarks before the General Assembly, Yaacobi made specific reference to the impact of the Holocaust on his own family – more than 50 members of his family perished – and on the Jewish people and the State of Israel.
“For the State of Israel, the Second World War cannot be remembered without remembering the Holocaust,” Yaacobi said.
“During their 12-year reign of terror, the Nazis directed special fury against the Jewish people,” he said. “The Jews of Europe were dehumanized and eventually destroyed.”
The U.S. ambassador for special political affairs, Karl F. Inderfurth, was among about a dozen other diplomats who delivered speeches on the resolution.
He paid homage to “the victims of racial and ethnic hatred, in particular those who perished in death camps and the Holocaust.”
“We shall never forget their suffering; we commemorate their memory,” Inderfurth said.
In his speech, Yaacobi also paid tribute to “the bravery and the heroism of the Jewish people” who resisted the Nazis underground and fought against them in national armies.
“The lessons of the Second World War are eternal,” he said. “The evils of racism, the dangers of surrendering to despotism, the bankruptcy of appeasement and the strength of statesmanship and courage.”
Yaacobi ended with a call for the United Nations to work for tolerance and respect and fight the “poverty and hopelessness that creates fundamentalism and hatred.”
The ambassador last month said non-aligned nations such as Libya, Iran and Iraq, “countries with dark philosophies,” objected to the inclusion of the Holocaust reference in the resolution.
But he was sanguine about it. “I despise these countries, so why should I be upset?”
Meanwhile, he praised the Russian initiative and said the Russians made several changes in the text the Israelis had requested.
The resolution was issued in advance of next week’s special session of the General Assembly to mark the 50th anniversary of the United Nations.
“After many ideological barriers have fallen and the `Cold War’ has ended, there is a new prospect for a more peaceful world and a system of genuine global security with the United Nations as a central element,” the resolution said.