Return of “Zionism is racism”

As she mounts her campaign to take the congressional seat representing Minnesota’s Fifth District, Ilhan Omar is sticking with the proposition that Israel is an “apartheid regime.” I think this raises a question of decency for which Democrats should be held to account. I noted this in my Weekly Standard article on Omar and have a column coming out specifically addressing Omar’s anti-Israel animus, to which I want to append this footnote.

The proposition that Israel is an “apartheid regime” represents a defamatory falsehood deriving from, or cognate with, the now repealed UN resolution declaring that “Zionism is a form of racism.” In November 1975 then United States Ambassador Daniel Patrick Moynihan rose to condemn the resolution as a “terrible lie” and its adoption by the General Assembly an “infamous act.” The text of Moynihan’s great speech is posted online together with the audio here (posted below). Gil Troy rightly calls this speech Moynihan’s Moment.More than 40 years later, the speech still strikes home.

As was his wont, Moynihan gave a learned disquisition on the subject. In his peroration Moynihan boldly asserted: “I am here making one point, and one point only, which is that whatever else Zionism may be, it is not and cannot be ‘a form of racism.’ In logic, the State of Israel could be, or could become, many things, theoretically, including many things undesirable, but it could not be and could not become racism unless it ceased to be Zionist.”

In his brilliant memoir A Dangerous Place (written with Suzanne Weaver Garment), Moynihan traced the provenance of the “Zionism is racism” lie to Soviet and Arab propaganda. It is to the eternal credit of the administration of George H.W. Bush that it enlisted the efforts of Secretary of State James Baker and Under Secretary John Bolton to persuade the UN General Assembly to repeal the “Zionism is racism” resolution, as it did in 1991. It is a story that Bolton tells in his own memoir, Surrender Is Not an Option: Defending America at the United Nations and Abroad. With Bolton returned to our national life as President Trump’s national security and Omar bidding to enter it as a Democratic congressman, we find a most telling contrast.

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