United Nations Affronts Israel on Its Memorial Day

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov speaks on April 25, 2023.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

United Nations Affronts Israel on Its Memorial Day

Global anti-Semitism is taking off its mask.

On April 25, the United Nations Security Council (unsc) convened to discuss Palestinian affairs. April 25 is Israel’s Memorial Day for fallen soldiers. Israel’s UN delegation was not opposed to the meeting but wanted it rescheduled. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who currently chairs the unsc, refused.

Israel’s response: The Israeli delegation showed up to the appointment. But Israeli UN representative Gilad Erdan lambasted the meeting. He accused the unsc of being biased and disrespectful. He read the names of the 44 Israeli soldiers killed in the past year, most of them not in combat, and lit a candle in their honor. He and the rest of the Israeli delegation then abruptly left the proceedings.

We made numerous requests to reschedule today’s debate, describing the deep importance of the day, yet tragically, this council refused to budge. The decision to nonetheless hold this debate on today of all days only further proves what Israelis already know and feel about this biased organization. … If this council refuses to respect [dead Israeli soldiers’] memory, I will dedicate this speech to their memory. I light this candle, Mr. President, to honor them, and may their memory be blessed. I’m sorry, but I refuse to spend this sacred day listening to lies and condemnation. This debate disgraces the fallen, and Israel will not take part in it.
—Gilad Erdan

Israel under attack: The United Nations is infamous for its anti-Israel bias. But the latest jab is a new low. Usually, the UN will organize meetings like this after an Israeli raid in the West Bank or a religious riot in Jerusalem. No such event instigated this meeting. That the unsc would schedule the meeting on Israel’s Memorial Day without prior provocation is an open insult. It would be the equivalent of the unsc scheduling a meeting on September 11 to tell America to end the fight against al Qaeda.

Global anti-Semitism: Last year, media asked Lavrov how Russia could claim to be “denazifying” Ukraine when Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is Jewish. Lavrov responded with: “I believe that Hitler also had Jewish blood. Some of the worst anti-Semites are Jews.” Blaming the Jews for the Holocaust is a blatant anti-Semitic trope. So perhaps one shouldn’t be too surprised at jabs from Lavrov like the April 25 meeting. Some suspect this was a tit-for-tat response to Israel’s criticism of Russia’s war in Ukraine.

In the video from the unsc meeting, most of the delegates’ seats from other states are full, including many liberal democracies. Everyone knew the meeting was a deliberate insult. Everyone knew Israel was being targeted not because of any particular policy or event but because it is Israel (read, Jewish). They all still showed up. No one followed the Israeli delegation out of the room.

The April 25 meeting reveals a lot about the state of global anti-Semitism.

We wrote in 2019:

This rising tide also manifests itself on the international stage. Between 2009 and September 2018, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization passed 71 resolutions condemning Israel, and merely two resolutions against all other nations in the world combined. In 2018, the UN General Assembly passed 21 resolutions on Israel, and just six on all other countries. The UN Human Rights Council has passed more resolutions against Israel than against all other nations in the world combined. The UN has passed more than 700 resolutions condemning Israel, and zero condemning the terrorist group Hamas.

Criticism of Israel is not inherently anti-Semitic—but such obsession is. There is no evidence to suggest that Israel is the most problematic country on the planet, demanding the overwhelming attention of the United Nations. The Jewish state is being singled out because it is Jewish. That is textbook anti-Semitism.

Fast-forward to 2023. Unlike other anti-Israel meetings, no geopolitical tensions were used as a smokescreen. This implies the international community feels it doesn’t need the smokescreen anymore. It can express its anti-Semitism without veneer.

The future: One could look at the UN’s actions as being more insulting than dangerous. But history shows when anti-Semitism becomes fashionable, catastrophe for the Jews is on the horizon. To learn more, read “The One Minority Society Loves to Hate.”