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U.S. Abstains from Voting in Unit on Resolution Condemning Totalitarianism, Including Nazism

February 25, 1981
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

— The United States abstained from voting yesterday on a resolution in the United Nations Human Rights Commission condemning racial intolerance, terror and all forms of totalitarianism, including Nazism and apartheid. The American delegate, Richard Shifter, told Commission members that his delegation abstained because the resolution was a “political ploy” and took insufficient notice of anti-Semitism today. It was adopted by a vote of 38-0.

Shifter, a Jewish lawyer active in human rights, said, “We feel secure in the knowledge that our country was always opposed to Nazism and fascism. We never signed any pact with Adolf Hitler or Herr Von Ribbentrop.” He was referring to the Hitler-Stalin pact concluded by Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov and German Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop in 1939, several weeks before the outbreak of World War II.

Shifter insisted that “America is opposed to Nazism and Fascism and we do not need to prove our anti-Nazi commitment by going along with a resolution which we consider misleading.”

Referring obliquely to anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union, he said, “We regret to note that

one of Nazism’s most inhuman features, the fomenting of group hatred, has spread to other political movements. The hideous, hateful caricatures which were once published in Julius Streicher’s ‘Der Sturmer’ can now be seen frequently in officially sanctioned publications of a country other than Germany. We believe this aspect should be dealt with in the Commission.”

Shifter, 58, was born in Vienna and is a practicing attorney in Maryland where he serves on the State Board of Education and is active in Jewish affairs. He is the alternate U.S. delegate to the UN Human Rights Commission.

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