CST Blog

Hatred at the heart of the campus wars

3 November 2015

CST's Dave Rich has an article about antisemitism and anti-Zionism on campus in the Jewish Chronicle. The article begins:

Given the concerns that we hear today about antisemitism and anti-Zionism on university campuses, it is worth remembering that there was a time when Jewish student societies were banned outright in some students' unions. This happened when many of the parents of today's Jewish student generation were themselves students, and many of its lessons about antisemitism, anti-Zionism and Jewish identity are as relevant now as they were then. The story begins 40 years ago this month, when one of Israel's greatest political figures, Chaim Herzog, addressed the United Nations to respond to the UN's notorious resolution that "Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination."

Herzog felt that he was speaking not just for Israel, but on behalf of the entire Jewish people. "I stand here not as a supplicant", he told the UN General Assembly. "I stand here before you as the representative of a strong and flourishing people". Herzog condemned the resolution as "an antisemitic attack of the foulest type", noting that it had been adopted on the anniversary of the Nazi pogrom of Kristallnacht, and dismissed it as having no "moral or legal value."

He concluded by saying that "for us, the Jewish people, this is no more than a piece of paper, and we shall treat it as such" and, then, with a theatrical flourish, he ripped up a copy of the resolution and left the podium.

Unfortunately for Herzog and Israel, the resolution carried great moral value for many others. The ''Zionism equals racism'' slogan has become the core mobilising idea of modern, left-wing anti-Zionism, despite the resolution's subsequent revocation in 1991.

The resolution was the culmination of a two-year campaign by a coalition of Communist and Arab states. The original aim had been for Israel's UN membership to be suspended (as had happened to South Africa in 1974) but this met strong resistance from the United States and West European countries. In a deft move, Israel's opponents sought instead to have Zionism defined as a form of racism, alongside apartheid and colonialism.

The United States’ Ambassador to the UN, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, grasped the danger of this new approach. In the anti-colonial UN, he later wrote: “Only regimes based on racism and racial discrimination were held to be unacceptable”.

The resolution effectively meant that Israel itself, and the Jewish national movement that built it, were illegitimate. Expulsion from the UN might have been a more lenient sentence.

You can read the rest of the article here.

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