JERUSALEM — Allegations of recurring United Nations anti-Israel activity, including accusations that United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres seemed to rationalize Hamas’ murder of 1,400 people — illustrate the world body’s obsession with the Jewish state.
‘Of course, (Guterres) should resign,’ Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, told Fox News Digital. ‘Many aspects of the U.N., like the Human Rights Council and UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency), are either antisemitic or give cover for terrorism or both. The behavior of the secretary-general this week was shameful even by the standards of the U.N.’
Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Gilad Erdan, on Tuesday urged Guterres to resign, ripping into the U.N. secretary-general for ostensibly rationalizing Hamas’ murder of 1,400, including Americans, Oct. 7 in Israel.
Guterres said Hamas’ attacks ‘did not happen in a vacuum,’ and the ‘Palestinian people have been subjected to 56 years of suffocating occupation. This is false. It was the opposite,’ Erdan said, describing Guterres’ words as ‘pure blood libel.’
Guterres responded to the criticism against him by noting in a statement outside the U.N. Security Council, ‘I am shocked by the misrepresentations by some of my statements yesterday in the Security Council. As if … as if I was justifying acts of terror by Hamas. This is false. It was the opposite.’
The U.N. has long faced accusations by critics of antisemitism and anti-Israel hatred.
In 1975, a majority of U.N. member states passed a resolution equating the founding philosophy of the state of Israel — Zionism — with racism. Critics say significant damage has been done by the resolution since, even though member states overturned the antisemitic resolution in 1991. But severe injury had been inflicted on the reputation of the Middle East’s only democratic state, Israel.
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New York’s former Democratic Mayor Ed Koch in 1982 called the world body a ‘cesspool’ for passing an anti-Israel resolution against the Jewish state for annexing the Golan Heights.
The late Israeli Ambassador to the U.N., Abba Eban, famously quipped, ‘If Algeria introduced a (U.N.) resolution declaring that the earth was flat and that Israel had flattened it, it would pass by a vote of 164 to 13 with 26 abstentions.’
Guterres’ move to blame the Jewish state for an alleged ‘occupation’ of the Gaza Strip omitted information regarding Israel’s withdrawal from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip in 2005.
Erdan condemned Guterres, calling on him to resign.
‘His statement that ‘the attacks by Hamas did not happen in a vacuum’ expressed an understanding for terrorism and murder,’ Erdan said. ‘It’s really (unfathomable).’
A spokesman for the secretary-general sent Fox News Digital a statement defending his speech and rejecting criticism.
‘Nothing can justify the deliberate killing, injuring and kidnapping of civilians — or the launching of rockets against civilian targets,’ Guterres said in his statement.
‘Indeed, I spoke of the grievances of the Palestinian people, and in doing so, I also clearly stated, and I quote, ‘But the grievances of the Palestinian people cannot justify the appalling attacks by Hamas.’
‘And then I went on with my intervention referring to all my positions on all aspects of the Middle East crisis. I believe it was necessary to set the record straight, especially out of respect to the victims and to their families.’
When asked if Guterres believes the U.N. should sanction Hamas as a terrorist organization, Guterres’ spokesman declined to comment.
‘The United Nations system — its secretariat from the secretary-general to its high commissioner for human rights, its bodies and agencies from the General Assembly and Human Rights Council to the Security Council — has systematically treated Israel differently than any other state for over half a century,’ Anne Bayefsky, president of Human Rights Voices and director of the Touro Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust, told Fox News Digital.
‘Discriminated against Israel. Demonized Israel. That demonization is not an abstraction. It’s lethal, as should now be excruciatingly obvious,’ she said.
Bayefsky continued, ‘The U.N. has no definition of terrorism because Islamic states claim targeting the Jewish state and its people is not antisemitism. Last week, Navi Pillay, head of a U.N. Commission of Inquiry, presented a U.N. report condemning Israel that put the word terrorism in quotation marks.’
‘She justified ‘armed struggle’ against Israel and backed the secretary-general’s contextualization — rationalization — of Hamas atrocities. She said, ‘The secretary-general made a correct statement … the attack (of Oct. 7) isn’t an isolated incident. It flows from all these violations on both sides.’ This is the face of modern antisemitism — a straight line from discrimination to death.’
‘This is a familiar circle of terrorists opposed to a Jewish state and steeped in antisemitism, expecting and finding the U.N. has their back. The secretary-general is a man who has smashed any pretense of a U.N. moral compass. He is a disgrace and lost any entitlement to head an organization theoretically dedicated to human rights,’ Bayefsky stated.’
Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the associate dean of the LA-based Simon Wiesenthal Center, told Fox News Digital he met last week with a U.N. diplomat in the secretary-general’s office ‘on all these roiling issues. When I saw the secretary-general’s statement, I was shocked and disappointed. My sense is that many seasoned professionals, journalists and, yes, diplomats just don’t get it.’
He continued, ‘They want to treat this as just another round of violence between Hamas and Israel. It isn’t, and the Jewish people will reject any efforts to do just that. Instead of berating Israel, the secretary-general should be telling the viciously one-sided UNHRC COI to wrap up their inquisition.’
The U.N. Human Rights Council commissioned a ‘commission of inquiry’ to investigate mainly Israel’s alleged human rights violations. The COI and its members have been accused of antisemitism by critics.
Former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley in 2018 pulled the plug on U.S. participation in the U.N. Human Rights Council because of its alleged bias against Israel. She said at the time the council ‘has been a protector of human rights abusers and a cesspool of political bias.’
President Biden rejoined the body in 2021.
Haley also denounced the U.N.’s Paris-based UNESCO, which supports various educational and cultural projects around the world and has faced criticism for naming ancient Jewish sites as Palestinian heritage sites and granting full membership to the Palestrian Authority in 2011.
‘UNESCO is among the most corrupt and politically biased U.N. agencies,’ Haley said after the U.S. announced it would quit the agency in 2017.
The Biden administration rejoined UNESCO in 2023.
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‘The Jewish people will not be lectured to. They will not allow Hamas to commit more crimes against humanity. The speechwriters and special rapporteurs live in their bubbles. We live in the real world. It’s not 1943, but 2023,’ Cooper said.
The Wiesenthal Center is named after the legendary Nazi hunter, Simon Wiesenthal, who survived the death camps of the Hitler movement.
Cooper took the U.N. specialized agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, to task for ‘serving as staging areas for weapons and missile launches.’
The United Nations Security Council has also faced intense criticism for its efforts to sanction Israel. Germany’s former ambassador, Christoph Heusgen, equated Israel with the terrorist movement Hamas during one session, prompting the Wiesenthal Center to list Heusgen’s remarks as one of the worst outbreaks of antisemitism and anti-Israeli conduct in 2019.
President Trump’s Middle East envoy, Jason Greenblatt, blasted the UNSC in 2019 for impeding peace between Israel and the Palestinians. He called the conduct of the Security Council ‘the constant drumbeat of tired rhetoric that is designed to prevent progress and bypass direct negotiations. It is time to retire that rhetoric.’
On Friday, the United Nations General Assembly failed to condemn Hamas in a non-binding resolution. The Jordanian-sponsored resolution calling for a ‘humanitarian truce,’ sailed through with some 120 nations voting for it. Erdan told delegates the vote ‘will go down in infamy.’
‘We have all witnessed that the U.N. no longer holds even one ounce of legitimacy or relevance,’ Erdan said. ‘This organization was founded in the wake of the Holocaust for the purpose of preventing atrocities, yet the spectacle we just saw proves beyond a doubt that the U.N. is committed, not to preventing, but ensuring, further atrocities.’
On Monday the United Nations Security Council scheduled an emergency session to discuss the initial ground invasion by the Israelis into Gaza.
The Associated Press and Fox News staff contributed to this report.