Grobman: UN undermines Israel and the West

BY ROBERT A. COHN, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF EMERITUS

Alex Grobman, who has a special place in the recent history of the St. Louis Jewish community as the first professional director of what was then called the St. Louis Holocaust Center, has published a scathing indictment of the United Nations, in which he maintains that the world body, which made it possible for the State of Israel to come into existence 59 years ago, “undermines Israel and the West.”

Grobman, who directed what is now the St. Louis Holocaust Museum and Learning Center from 1977 until he was succeeded by Warren P. Green in 1980, brings additional solid credentials to his book, Nations United: How the United Nations is Undermining Israel and the West (New Leaf Publishing Group). He is a graduate of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem with master’s of arts and Ph.D. degrees in contemporary Jewish history, and is president of the Institute for Contemporary Jewish Affairs and the Brenn Institute, think tanks dealing with historical and contemporary issues affecting the Jewish community. He also previously served as director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, where he was the founding editor-in-chief of The Simon Wiesenthal Annual, the first serial publication in the United States focusing on the scholarly study of the Holocaust.

Grobman’s book reflects his solid academic and historic credentials as well as his immersion in serious study of anti-Semitism and the Holocaust. In Nations United, he provides the reader with a detailed narrative on the complex and changing relationship between Israel and the United Nations, which began with the crucial 1947 General Assembly vote in favor of the Palestine Partition Plan, to the nadir on Nov. 10, 1975, when the same General Assembly approved the infamous resolution stating that Zionism “is a form of racism,” through such events as the UN World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa in the summer of 2001, which was described by Irving Cotler, the Canadian human rights leader as a “Festival of Hate” because of its numerous anti-Semitic and anti-Israel actions and resolutions.

Grobman quotes former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan as having “acknowledged that in the Jewish community, ‘it seemed as if the United Nations serves the interests of all peoples but one: the Jews.'” Annan was encouraged that for the first time the General Assembly had included anti-Semitism among the types of racism it wanted to eliminate.

In an unusually strong statement, Annan said, “The United Nations will never forget its origins in the fight against fascism, and that its Charter was drafted as the world was learning the full horror of the Holocaust,” adding, “This history makes it especially sad that such a gulf has developed between the UN and the world Jewish community.”

The infamous “Zionism is a form of racism” resolution of 1975, which was later officially rescinded under U.S. pressure, and the Durban World Conference Against Racism, the proceedings of which were eclipsed by the horrible events of Sept. 11, 2001, are only two of the most egregious examples of why the gulf between the world Jewish community and the UN which Annan acknowledged exists. In the days of the Cold War, when the Soviet Union constantly opposed positions taken by the United States and its allies, the USSR after the 1956 Suez Crisis consistently backed the Arab states against Israel, and were joined by the bloc of votes from the so-called “Non-Aligned” and “Third World” nations who consistently voted against Israel under pressure from the League of Arab States.

Even in the post-Cold War era, an overwhelming majority of member states in the UN continue to reflexively adopt resolutions condemning Israel for “persecuting the Palestinians,” while at the same time ignoring terrorist acts carried out by groups such as the Palestine Liberation Organization, Fatah, Hamas and Hezbollah. Indeed, it was not until last summer’s war between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon that a UN Security Council resolution called upon a terrorist group, in this case Hezbollah, to cease its provocative actions against Israel, including the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers and Katyusha rocket attacks into northern Israel.

Grobman makes clear in his compelling book that the Zionism equals racism resolution was much more than symbolic in its effect on Israel’s status as a respected nation. “One immediate result of the Zionism equals racism resolution was that it helped enlist the support of the Third World against Israel, reminded the West of its silence during the Holocaust, and awakened ‘guilt complexes in Western circles.’ What it effectively did was question the entire basis of the creation of the Israeli state. How can Israel be absolutely legitimate if she came into being in an illigitimate manner? Recognizing Israel as a legitimate entity means that there is ‘justice in Zionism.’ By forcing Jews to reject Zionism as ‘Jewish nationalism,’ the Arabs could deprive the Jews of their national status, leaving them only with a religious identity that gives them no rights to a state of their own, according them inferor status as a people. The next step would be to accept anti-Semitism on an international basis.'”

Grobman’s concerns about the Zionism equals racism resolution are borne out by the continued attacks on Israel’s legitimacy and over threats on its very existence, such as the frequent statements by the fanatic Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad that Israel should be “wiped off the map,” and his hosting of an “international conference” in Tehran that denied the Holocaust.

In addition to the ongoing and ever-more-blatant threats against Israel and anti-Semitic statements from heads of governments, such immediate problems as taking meaningful action to stop the genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan have been blocked by the newly resurgent anti-Western bloc at the Security Council. Russia and China, often supported by France, consistently block any strong resolution to place meaningful sanctions against Sudan by threatening to exercise their veto. As a result, the only resolutions adopted on Darfur and other major issues are watered-down to the extent that they are ineffective in stopping the mass murders. Meanwhile, as atrocities and genocide are ignored or allowed to happen in places like Rwanda in 1994 and Darfur today, the endless parade of anti-Israel resolutions continues. Fortunately for Israel, for the past 25 years, the U.S. ambassadors to the United Nations have used the American veto to block many of the more egregious anti-Israel resolutions.

Grobman’s book has received well-deserved praise from other scholars and experts in history and contemporary international affairs. Russell Robinson, chief executive officer of the Jewish National Fund, said, “Nations United exposes the public relations war waged by israel’s enemies at the UN, on college camuses and in the media around the world…This book is an invaluable piece of live ammunition in that war of words.” Gary Bauer, president of American Values, said, “Fact by fact, National United builds an irrefutable case against the UN for disseminating virulent anti-Semitism aimed at the destruction of the State of Israel. By explaining each stage in the development of this process, Dr. Grobman shows us how lies and half-truths can once again cause the destruction of the Jewish people.”

Alex Grobman’s book is not only compelling reading, it is also a strong cautionary tale and a wake-up call to the Jewish community that much work remains to be done to combat the anti-Israel, anti-Semitic and anti-Western actions taken by the very United Nations which was founded to prevent such abuses. Nations United is a must-read, and should be on the shelves of anyone interested in a detailed analysis of a major challenge to the security of israel, the Jewish people and the West.

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