United Nations Secretary General António Guterres pledged Sunday to be “on the front lines in the fight against anti-Semitism” and said “the modern form of anti-Semitism is the denial of the existence of the State of Israel.”
— (((WJC))) (@WorldJewishCong) April 23, 2017
Guterres told delegates at the World Jewish Congress that “Israel needs to be treated like any other UN member state” and that it had an “undeniable right to exist and to live in peace and security with its neighbors.”
Guterres also recalled the history of his native Portugal, where Jews in the Middle Ages suffered from a “systematic policy of discrimination” and were eventually expelled, calling this a “tremendous crime and the most stupid mistake ever made in Portugal.”
“Anti-Semitism never died despite the shock of the Holocaust,” Guterres acknowledged, noting the prevalence of hate speech on the internet as well as vandalism against Jewish sites and cemeteries.
Guterres’ talk marked the first time that a UN secretary general addressed a gathering of Jewish leaders.
Guterres said in January that Israel should be treated as any other nation by the UN General Assembly, which adopted 20 resolutions against the Jewish state in 2016 and only six on the rest of the world combined. The secretary general also acknowledged that a Jewish temple once stood on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, offering a rebuke to a pair of UNESCO resolutions last year that erased the connection between Judaism and its holiest site. Palestinian officials blasted Guterres for his remarks, with a Palestinian Authority minister saying that Guterres “neglected the UNESCO resolutions, which clearly said that the al-Aqsa Mosque is purely an Islamic heritage.”
Guterres demanded in March that a UN agency representing 18 Arab nations rescind a controversial anti-Israel report it had issued, which had been co-authored by discredited 9/11 conspiracy theorist Richard Falk.
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