U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry urged the world on Wednesday to condemn rising anti-Semitism and bigotry and unite in the struggle against violent extremism and "terrorist bigots," speaking Wednesday at a commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the adoption of a UN resolution equating Zionism with racism.
Kerry called the 1975 resolution ominous because it gave "a global license to hate" the state of Israel, and he called on diplomats and governments to do everything in their power to prevent the United Nations from being hijacked again "for malicious intent."
Kerry paid tribute to Israel's then UN ambassador Chaim Herzog who told the General Assembly after the resolution's adoption that it was nothing more than "a piece of paper" based "on hatred, falsehood and arrogance." Herzog, who later became Israel's president, then tore it to pieces.
Kerry also paid tribute to then-U.S. Ambassador Daniel Patrick Moynihan who told the assembly "the United States ... will never acquiesce in this infamous act."
The U.S. secretary of state, who met earlier this week with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, was a late addition to the program which included Herzog's son, Isaac, currently Israel's opposition leader, and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
The event, organized by Israel's UN Mission and attended by more than 400 diplomats and members of Jewish organizations, came on a day that the European Union announced that it will start labeling Israeli products made in the West Bank, a move denounced by Israeli leaders.
Kerry didn't mention the EU labeling but he did stress America's "unwavering" commitment to Israel, to lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians, and to a two-state solution. With courage and leadership, he said, "this is not an impossible dream — it is achievable."
Secretary-General Ban said the 1975 adoption and 1991 repeal of the resolution equating Zionism with racism must be seen as "a lesson."
"Today, our focus must be on the many manifestations of hatred and intolerance that blight the global landscape — resurgent anti-Semitism, wide-ranging anti-Muslim bigotry and attacks, discrimination against migrants and refugees," the UN chief said. "Today, let us pledge to stand up to hatred and ignorance ... and uphold our shared commitment to equality and human dignity."