WASHINGTON (JTA) – The struggle to defeat the notion that Zionism is racism persists both in the battle against resurgent anti-Semitism and the efforts to arrive at a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said.
“Too many outside this room fail to recognize the global reality of anti-Semitism today,” Kerry said at an event Wednesday marking 40 years since Chaim Herzog, Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, spoke against the UN General Assembly’s resolution equating Zionism with racism.
“Too many fail to realize that a witch’s brew of old prejudices and new political grievances and economic troubles and nationalism combine to create dangerous new openings for extremism. So Herzog and Moynihan together have left us a major responsibility to continue to tell the world that anti-Semitism is as abhorrent and vile today as it was in 1975.”
Daniel Patrick Moynihan, then the U.S. ambassador to the body, also spoke out against the motion, which eventually passed in 1975 but was rescinded in 1991. Herzog famously tore up a copy of the resolution at the conclusion of his speech.
Kerry, who led an unsuccessful bid in 2013 and 2014 to conclude an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement, said that arriving at a two-state solution was critical to maintaining the Zionist dream.
“The Zionist dream embraces the concept of Israel as a Jewish democracy, a beacon of light to all nations,” he said. “And that dream can only be upheld by two states living side by side in peace and security. And we all know, from years of discussion and effort, this is not an impossible dream. It is achievable.”
The event was co-sponsored by the Israeli mission to the United Nations, the American Jewish Committee and the Chaim Herzog Public Council. The American Jewish Committee led the effort to rescind the 1975 resolution.
On hand were the two sons of Herzog, who went on to become the president of Israel: Isaac Herzog, currently the leader of the opposition Zionist Camp party in Israel, and Mike Herzog, a retired general. Also present was Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general.
“The reputation of the United Nations was badly damaged by the adoption of resolution 3379, in and beyond Israel and the wider Jewish community,” Ban said. “As we commemorate Chaim Herzog’s words, I appeal to the community of nations to always act to uphold the principles of the United Nations Charter ‘to practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbours.’”