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January 29, 2007

A Midwinter Night's Dream


by Ran HaCohen

The United Nations General Assembly has just adopted a resolution condemning denials of the Holocaust. The resolution, co-sponsored by 103 countries, was approved by consensus, without a vote.

Perhaps it's too early to predict the reactions to this fresh UN resolution, but let us try to speculate what they might be.

Outrage in Israel

Both major Israeli tabloids will surely be headlined, in huge red letters: "UN DOUBLE-FACED." Editorials will be dedicated to unmasking the UN's hypocrisy. Israeli ministers and ambassadors will unanimously quote these wise words from the Web site of Israel's permanent mission to the UN: "The automatic majority enjoyed by the Arab-Moslem bloc enables this group to pass any anti-Israel resolution it chooses, no matter how one-sided it may be. This same automatic majority blocks the adoption of any resolution that has any hint of criticism against the Palestinians or any Arab state."

The most recent resolution, everyone will agree, is just more evidence of the UN's traditional anti-Israeli automatism. Once again, the UN has exposed its obsession with Israel and the Jews.

Many Genocides

Following the public outrage, TV studios will invite the best talking heads from Israel's leading faculties of history to remind viewers that even without resorting to the Age of Discovery in the Americas, there have been many mass murders in the 20th century alone: the Armenian genocide, Stalin's purges, Mao's Great Leap Forward, Cambodia, Rwanda, the former Yugoslavia, to name only some of them. The UN hasn't passed a similar resolution regarding the denial of any of them, nor are they mentioned in the present resolution. Once again, it's the Jews, the whole Jews, and nothing but the Jews. Several Israeli columnists will compare the recent resolution with that of 1975, when the UN equated Zionism with racism: both resolutions, they will argue, reflect an anti-Semitic bias – the Jews are always at the center. A major columnist in Ma'ariv will even criticize Israel's ambassador to the UN for not tearing in half the resolution's draft, like his predecessor did in 1975. "It's high time the UN stopped behaving as if only Jews existed," the columnist will complain. "There are more than 150 nations on earth, please leave us alone!"

The unanimity with which the resolution was adopted will not be left unmentioned either. "Not even our traditional friends Micronesia and Marshall Islands voted against," a columnist for Ha'aretz will complain: "The one-mindedness and one-sidedness of the UN members reminds one of elections in totalitarian states, where tyrants are supported by 99 percent of the votes. A resolution adopted so unanimously is either trivial or severely biased. At any rate, it cannot and should not be take seriously by any peace-loving people."

Worse Crimes Elsewhere

The outrage will not be confined to Israel. English-speaking historians like Prof. Simon Schama will lend a hand to reject the prejudiced resolution. In an article written together with legal expert Anthony Julius in The Guardian, Schama will quote his own recent protest against a similarly biased call to boycott Israel; that call, he noted, "says nothing about the egregious human rights abuses committed elsewhere in the world (Darfur, Chechnya, and many other places)." The latest UN resolution, as Schama and Julius will rightly point out, suffers from the very same flaw: once again, the Jews are singled out. The resolution "purports to affirm universal, human rights values," but in fact "it is incapable of explaining why" it deplores just the denial of the genocide of Jews, "alone among the nations of the world." As the two scholars would stress, while men are being butchered and women raped en masse in Sudan, the UN finds it worthwhile to condemn the denial of a genocide whose last victims were murdered over 60 years ago. Meanwhile, the genocide in Darfur continues, not to mention the bloody chaos in U.S.-occupied Iraq. There's no better evidence for the total moral bankruptcy of the UN, as Schama and Julius will undoubtedly stress.

Who's Afraid of Nuclear Weapons?

Legal scholar Alan Dershowitz will demonstrate his professional skills by analyzing the speech of the Israeli ambassador to the UN, Danny Gillerman. Gillerman said that while the UN was deploring the denial of the Holocaust, a member state – namely Iran – was developing means to carry out yet another genocide. Dershowitz will easily expose the flaw in this argument: if possessing nuclear weapons is enough to accuse a nation of genocidal intentions, it is in fact Israel rather than Iran that should be blamed. After all, Iran is just trying to get some of the weapons of mass destruction that Israel already possesses. And while Iran is not at war with any of its neighbors and not occupying any foreign lands, Israel is officially at war with several Arab countries and has been occupying Palestinian lands for 40 years. "So you tell me what's more dangerous," Dershowitz will rhetorically ask: "a state that undoubtedly possesses nuclear weapons, or a state accused of trying to get them?!"

Turkey, Too

American Jewry will be outraged, too. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), under its vociferous director Abe Foxman, will not remain silent. "The anti-Israel bias at the UN," as the ADL has been calling it for a long time, breaks new records: while a full, respected member of the UN, namely Turkey, openly denies the genocide of the Armenians and threatens states willing to acknowledge that genocide, the UN bothers to take issue exclusively with denial of the Jewish Holocaust, which is criminally prosecuted in many countries and denied only by quite insignificant individuals and organizations, or at a lunatic conference in Iran in which even some Jews took part. Needless to say, Turkey supported the new resolution. Once again, Foxman will say, we have damning evidence of the UN's hypocrisy, and of the fact that the Gentiles "love us when we are dead."

Wake Up!

None of this, of course, is going to happen. None of those who always protest the "singling out" of Israel's atrocities, who always invoke other tragedies when Israel is criticized, will bother to say a single word when the Holocaust is singled out for Israel's benefit. The only country to object to the resolution was Iran, arguing that the Holocaust is used to distract the world from Israel's crimes against the Palestinians.

Sure, the Holocaust is one of the greatest crimes in human history, and its denial is morally despicable, but there are much most urgent issues to tackle. The Armenian genocide is denied much more than the Holocaust: just two weeks ago, a journalist best known for his writing and public statements about the Armenian genocide was murdered in Turkey. The genocide in Darfur is carried out at this very moment, not decades ago; unlike the Holocaust, it can still be stopped. And the Palestinian tragedy – genocide or not – unquestionably costs more lives than any denial of the Holocaust ever has.

All this doesn't bother any of the "don't-single-out-Israel" cavaliers with their brazen hypocrisy. So next time you hear them cry out "anti-Semitism!" when Israel is criticized, next time you watch them invoke atrocities from all over the globe just to distract from Israel's crimes, please ask them whether they protested against this latest UN resolution as well, or whether hypocrisy is welcome as long as they benefit from it.

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Dr. Ran HaCohen was born in the Netherlands in 1964 and grew up in Israel. He has a B.A. in Computer Science, an M.A. in Comparative Literature, and his PhD is in Jewish Studies. He is a university teacher in Israel. He also works as a literary translator (from German, English and Dutch), and as a literary critic for the Israeli daily Yedioth Achronoth. Mr. HaCohen's work has been published widely in Israel. "Letter from Israel" appears occasionally at Antiwar.com.

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