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U.N. Commission Votes to Urge Member States to Combat Anti-semitism

March 17, 1966
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The United Nations Commission on Human Rights adopted today a clause in a draft Convention on the elimination of religious intolerance, calling upon all states to “combat prejudices such as anti-Semitism and other manifestations, which lead to religious intolerance. “

The vote was 12-4, with four abstentions. The Soviet bloc in the Commission-consisting of the USSR, Poland and the Ukraine-which had fought bitterly against any proposals calling for the specific mention of anti-Semitism, abstained from voting when it came to a final ballot.

This is the first time a major U. N. Convention is to mention anti-Semitism. The USSR fought not only such specific reference to anti-Semitism but, for six years, has been using many parliamentary maneuvers to keep the entire draft Conventions on religious freedoms from adoption by the United Nations.

The clause adopted today had been introduced by Narciso Irureta, of Chile, after the move to mention anti-Semitism by name had been initiated yesterday in the current session of the Commission by Israel’s representative on the U.N. body. He is Associate Israeli Supreme Court Justice Haim H. Cohn. When Justice Cohn introduced the move to call for the combating of anti-Semitism, he was supported staunchly by the United States delegate, Morris B. Abram, and opposed as firmly by the USSR representative, Evgeny Nasinosky. After Mr. Irureta presented his own formulation in an amendment today. Justice Cohn withdrew his version, and accepted the Chilean clause.

The Soviet bloc’s abstentions surprised members of the Commission since, just prior to the voting on the Chilean clause, a USSR effort to eliminate the word anti-Semitism-had been badly beaten. Mr. Nasinovsky had proposed that, instead of mentioning anti-Semitism, the clause should call upon adherents to the Convention to combat “prejudices in respect of the Christian, Moslem, Buddhist, Hindu, Judaic and other religions.” Mr. Nasinovsky’s proposal received only three votes-his own and those of the Ukraine and Poland. Twelve voted against the Soviet amendment while six members abstained.

The members who voted in favor of the Chilean amendment mentioning anti-Semitism were: Israel, the United States, Britain, France, Argentina, Austria, Chile, Costa Rica, Dahomey, Italy, the Netherlands and Sweden. Those who voted against the clause were India, Iraq, the Philippine Islands and Jamaica.

The Israeli proposal to include anti-Semitism in the draft of the Convention as a manifestation that has to be combated by all nations was backed by Jewish organizations that enjoy nongovernmental status at the United Nations, giving them the right to participate in the deliberations of the Human Rights Commission. A memorandum “strongly” urging that “the international instruments include an article specifically condemning anti-Semitism and placing it beyond the pale of civilized society” had been presented to the Commission by the Coordinating Board of Jewish Organizations. Speaking in favor of explicit mention of anti-Semitism at today’s session was Dr. Isaac Lewin, representing the World Agudath Israel.

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