On this day: UN Resolution 3379

10 November 1975: UN equates Zionism with racism

By Jennifer Lipman, November 10, 2010

One of the most controversial acts in the history of the United Nations General Assembly, Resolution 3379 determined that “Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination.”

A series of resolutions had been passed in 1973, criticising South Africa. These referred to the "unholy alliance between Portugese colonialism, Apartheid and Zionism". In 1975, this suggested link was taken a step further, with the passing of Resolution 3379.

Supported by the Arab League and a collection of members including the Soviet Union, Spain, Portugal and Uganda, it was passed by 72 votes to 35. Among those opposing the motion were Britain and the United States. Another 32 countries abstained.

The chief British delegate, Ivor Richard, said the UK categorically rejected the motion. He said it “can only serve to undermine the right of the state of Israel to exist” and that “it risks bringing the whole organisation into dire peril”.

It was condemned by international statesmen including Henry Kissinger, while the then Israeli ambassador to the UK called it the UN’s “Pearl Harbour” moment.

The anti-Israel rhetoric continued at the UN throught the 1970s and 1980s, with the Israeli and US delegations walking out from racism conferences in 1978 and 1983. The Resolution remained in place until December 16 1991, when it became the first – and only – UN Resolution to be revoked.

It was repealed with 111 votes to 25, after Israel said they would not particpate in the Madrid peace conference with it still in place. Before Resolution 46/86 was passed, then US President George HW Bush said: “To equate Zionism with the intolerable sin of racism is to twist history and forget the terrible plight of Jews in World War II and, indeed, throughout history.

“To equate Zionism with racism is to reject Israel itself, a member of good standing of the United Nations. This body cannot claim to seek peace and at the same time challenge Israel's right to exist.”

The phrase was resurrected in 2001 at the World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa, when Arab countries and NGOs again tried to censure Israel and include the language in the draft proposal. As a result, the US and Israeli delegations walked out.

What the JC said: But another expression of the Arab attempt to destroy Israel….Israel and the Zionists have not yet geared themselves to countering the massive Arab propaganda campaign which has learned from the Nazis and the Communists the technique of the big lie. Those who seek to destroy Israel – and their craven camp followers – will be unaffected by rational arguments. But there are sectors of opinion which can still be influenced by knwol3edge of the democratic nature of Israeli society and the reality of her peace aims.

See more from the JC archives here

Last updated: 7:46am, November 10 2010