World Jewish News
UN Secretary General Guterres in Israel: '’Calling for Israel’s destruction is a form of modern anti-Semitism'
‘’Calling for Israel’s destruction is a form of modern anti-Semitism,’’ United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres said as he started a 4-day visit to Israel. It is his first visit in Israel since his appointment at the UN of the world body.
“I do believe that in particular when you mention those who call for the destruction of the State of Israel that that is a form of modern anti-Semitism,” Guterres said at a meeting with President Reuven Rivlin in Jerusalem.
Israel sees this visit as a welcome opportunity for a new beginning in often tense relations with the world body.
Guterres also told the Israeli president that he would be handling relations in the Middle East impartially and that he was devoted to implementing the principles in the UN Charter.
He said, "Impartiality means treating all states equally, and I am totally committed to that in my action and in everything I can do for the organization I lead," he continued.
“But you also understand that I sometimes disagree with positions of the Government of Israel or any other government, and that is absolutely normal in a society where many of your citizens have exactly the same expressions of opinions,” he added.
“We will always be very frank in the dialogue with the State of Israel in trying to find ways for peace to be possible in this region, but we will always be very committed to make sure anti-Semitism doesn’t prevail and that equality in the treatment of all states is fully respected.”
Earlier, President Rivlin called on Guterres “to work to end the discrimination against Israel” at the UN, while also thanking him for “brave leadership” on the issue.
“This targeting of Israel, this singling out of the world’s only Jewish state, and even actions and statements that threaten to destroy Israel are unacceptable, and should come at a price. No member state in the UN should be allowed to behave like that,” the president said.
“We appreciate your brave leadership regarding the discrimination against Israel. We hope that working together, we can create a more productive partnership between Israel and the UN, for the sake of our region, and for the sake of all humanity.”
The UN head also met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who commended his statements. "You have said that the calling for the destruction of Israel is a modern form of anti-Semitism. You have clearly demonstrated the desire since you have taken office to turn a new page in the relations between Israel and the UN. This is something I want too, and I look forward to working with you towards that joint mission.’’
Israel is repeatedly denouncing the UN and its agencies' ''obsessive pre-occupation with Israel''. ''This must end if the world body is to make a constructive contribution to peace and stability in the region,'' Jerusalem says.
In particular Israel slams the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) ''shameless'' singling out of Israel and the repeated ''outrageous'' UNESCO decisions rewriting the history of Jerusalem and Hebron to exclude the Jewish people.
''Israel has the experience and the ability to make a meaningful contribution to the UN in many fields including in cyber-security, water technologies, women's' empowerment, disabled rights, combatting desertification, and more. Israel is also a partner in the global effort to combat terror,'' an Israeli official said.
After a visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial, Guterres mentioned his home country Portugal’s own history of anti-Semitism in the 16th century.
“Yad Vashem is there to remind us that we need to be in the first line in fighting against anti-Semitism, but first of all fighting against all other forms of bigotry, be it racism, xenophobia, even anti-Muslim hatred, to promote understanding and to promote dialogue,” he said.
In his remarks at Yad Vashem, Guterres said he was “shocked” by the anti-Semitic and Nazi chants at the violent white supremacist rally earlier this month in Charlottesville, Virginia, and also warned that anti-Semitism is “alive and well.”
‘’That is a dramatic demonstration that it is our duty to do everything possible and as Secretary General of the United Nations I fully assume that commitment to do everything possible to fight anti-Semitism in all its expressions,” he said.