At the time, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency had the story of what happened next:
Russia Asks U.N. to Condemn Zionism Along with Anti-semitism, Nazism
The Soviet Union called formally upon the United Nations today to condemn Zionism along with anti-Semitism, Nazism and neo-Nazism as a policy of “colonialism and race hatred.” The step was taken in the General Assembly’s Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Committee where a draft convention was being debated calling for the elimination of all forms of racial discrimination.
|UN General Assembly (November 1965) UN Photo/TC|
The amendment introduced by the US and Brazil, according to which the states would “condemn anti-Semitism and shall take action as appropriate for its speedy eradication in territories subject to their jurisdiction” would not see the light of day.
Instead, it would be replaced with:
“States parties condemn anti-Semitism, Zionism, Nazism, neo-Nazism and all other forms of the policy and ideology of colonialism, national and race hatred and exclusiveness and shall take action as appropriate for the speedy eradication of those misanthropic ideas and practices in the territories subject to their jurisdiction.In the end, Russia's ploy served its purpose. A different amendment was proposed by Greece and Hungary, removing all reference to any specific kind of discrimination.
In her article "Equating Zionism with Racism: The 1965 Precedent", Dr. Ofra Friesel outlines the various motives that surrounded the push both for and against the amendment condemning Antisemitism as racism:
- The United States wanted to include the issue of religious persecution with racial discrimination in order to deflect international attention away from African-Americans discrimination -- and focus it instead towards the persecution of religious groups in Soviet Russia
- Soviet Russia wanted to protect itself from international criticism, while at the same time keeping international public opinion focused on the problem of race relations inside the US
- Israel and Jewish organizations also wanted to use the mention of religious persecution in order to criticize the USSR -- for its persecution of Jews.
- African and Asian countries did not want to be sidetracked by the issue of religious persecution. They were more concerned with racial discrimination
- Arab countries saw a religious persecution clause as an attempt to protect Israeli and Jewish interests
According to Dr. Yochanan Manor, while they occasionally claimed that Zionist leaders cooperated with the Nazis, Soviet Russia did not accuse Zionism of being racist -- instead defining Zionism as chauvinistic, bourgeois and reactionary. They reserved the term "racist" for the non-Slavic national movements which attempted to form ties with ethnic movements outside of the USSR, in an attempt to discredit them.
That all changed in 1967, after the Six Day War, when the Soviets saw the influence of the war on Jewish nationalism.
By 1971, Yakov Malik, the Soviet ambassador was openly lecturing the UN Security Council that Zionism was parallel to Fascism, and the UN was well on its way to UN Resolution 3379, just 4 years later.
Though repealed in 1991, UN Resolution 3379 equating Zionism with racism served its purpose. It tagged Zionism, and by extension -- Israel, with a slur that continues to be exploited by both virulent anti-Israel critics and by antisemites. While the association may have initially been utilized to thwart the US, ultimately it has been a tool against Israel and will continue to be resorted to by those who deny Israel's right to exist.
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