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UN Week, 6/6/11

June 9, 2011

John and Douglas Carey, Editors,  

Please note:  The Division is happy to publish John and Douglas Carey’s weekly blog, but the views expressed within are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the Division.  John Carey is a member of the Westchester Chapter of UNA-USA and a former mayor of Rye, NY.  He writes this weekly blog with his son Douglas.  Editor of the United Nations Law Reports (unofficial reports on legal matters in the UN), John Carey is a former Vice President of the American Society of International Law and former member of the editorial board of the American Journal of International Law.  Besides serving as Alternate US Member of the UN Sub-Commission of Prevention and Protection of Human Rights during all its sessions up to 1990 at which indigenous rights were considered, he is a former Adjunct Assistant Professor at NYU. At NYU, he also earned the LL.M. in International Law while a partner at the Coudert Brothers law firm. He serves as the Chair of the ASIL Interest Group on Indigenous Peoples’ Rights.   The views expressed in their blog are their own.

Contents of this issue: deserting Israel in its time of need.

          A Bloomberg article dated June 1st reported that an Acting Assistant Secretary of State had written to New York Senator Kristen Gillibrand saying that the US will not attend this September’s 10-year commemoration of the 2001 UN Conference against Racism. The reason given: the probability of “ugly displays of intolerance and anti-Semitism.”

          So how do we like to think of ourselves as reacting when a group of bullies are tormenting a much smaller person? Do we favor turning away to avoid associating ourselves with what is happening? I should hope not. No, we say charge the bullies and rout them, regardless of the risk to our personal safety. To stand by and do nothing is to condone the bullying.

          Why then do we turn our backs when Israel is being savagely attacked by its foes in UN meetings? How do we look if we do that? Like cowards, I say. Like fair weather friends who run for cover when the going gets tough. Is that the image of America we want to project? I say, not on your life.

          I speak from personal experience, not from any ivory tower or cushy think tank. In 1971 I was the lone American in the UN Human Rights Sub-Commission when Syrian Ambassador Daoudi began equating Zionism with Nazism. Not just racism, but Nazism, the epitome of racism. He declared that the Biblical doctrine of a Chosen People resembled the Nazi idea of a superior Aryan race.

          I decided not to put up with Daoudi’s venom. But instead of walking out of the meeting room as if I had nothing to say in reply, I decided to hit him back where it would hurt. I quickly, on the spur of the moment, devised a strategy that left him speechless, never again, in my presence at least, to utter such obnoxious nonsense.

          When given the floor, I started by noting that, despite my newness in the UN, I had observed that there were certain unwritten rules that everyone obeyed. I said that one such rule that I had observed was that no member would insult another member with regard to his or her religion. I added that I was reluctant to bring up so sensitive a subject but that in good conscience I could not ignore something I had been hearing.

          Mentioning no names, I described how in my youth I had attended a Christian Sunday School where I had studied not only the New Testament teachings of Jesus but also the Old Testament history of the ancient Hebrew People. In the latter connection, I had learned about the Chosen People, on whom God had placed a heavy responsibility to conduct themselves righteously and to set an example. I stressed that the Chosen People were not selected to dominate others but rather to show others how to behave.

          I reminded the other members of the Sub-Commission that at times the Chosen People had failed in the eyes of God, for which they were severely punished. So any notion that the Chosen People of God could be compared with the Aryan Master Race proclaimed by the Nazis was utter nonsense.

Among the many spectators at this meeting were a number of Jewish leaders. Their reaction to my rebuff of Daoudi was one of mixed joy, relief and admiration. They were not accustomed to hearing American spokes-persons land solid body blows on the foes of Israel.

And so I suggest that for us to now slink away from the field of battle would be both cowardly and unworthy of our national ideals.

That’s all for this June 6th issue of United Nations Week: News and Views. We’ll be back with the next issue. Meantime, send your own views on these or other UN-related issues to

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