Congressman Nadler Slams Anti-Jewish Sentiment at U.N. Conference

Sep 3, 2001 Issues: Foreign Affairs/Israel

WASHINGTON – Saying that what should have been an historic opportunity to tackle worldwide racism has itself deteriorated into a platform for racism and anti-Semitism, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) today declared his support for Secretary of State Colin Powell’s decision to pull the U.S. out of the United Nations World Conference on Racism.  Powell’s decision came on the heels of news that language denouncing Israel as racist would not be pulled from consideration.

“To call Israel’s right to exist racist – a nation which was founded in the aftermath of one of the worst racist atrocities in history – is absolutely repugnant,” said Rep. Nadler.  “Secretary of State Powell is right to pull the U.S. from the conference.  We should not be in the business of condoning the use of this conference to further Palestinian anti-Semite propaganda.”

At issue is language backed by Arab nations and their allies that declares Zionism is racism, and that Israel bases its very right to exist on “racial superiority.”  In addition to the controversy surrounding the language, the conference took a turn for the ugly as it convened.  Anti-Jewish caricatures were handed out by an Arab group accredited by the conference, and Jewish attendees were greeted by chants of “Kill the Jews.” U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan added fuel to the fire late last week by siding with Palestinians at the opening session of the Conference, when he said the conference should not expect Palestinians to accept “displacement, occupation, blockade, and...extra-judicial killings” by Israel, because the Holocaust made Jews sensitive to charges of racism.

“Kofi Annan has become one of the lead cheerleaders for the hate mongers that have hijacked this conference,” said Rep. Nadler.  “What should have been an historic opportunity to examine ways to correct horrible acts of racism has become racist itself.  Sadly, it seems Arab countries have succeeded in turning the conference into a ‘Damn Israel’ pep rally.  Colin Powell should be congratulated for standing up to those who demonize the Jewish people for simply wanting a homeland, like every other people around the world.”

Rep. Nadler has served in Congress since 1992.  He represents the 8th Congressional District of New York, which includes parts of Manhattan and Brooklyn.