Kirkpatrick experienced this malign obsession personally when she headed a delegation to the International Conference on African Refugees in March 1981.
The day before it opened, the Arab States, led by Libya, moved to bar Israel’s delegate. Kirkpatrick announced that if this happened, the US would walk out and withdraw the $285 million it had pledged to the refugee problem. She dared the African countries and their Arab allies to choose between their “vile rhetoric” and money that could help their people.
They chose the money.
She saw clearly that isolating and stigmatizing Israel was the USSR’s “great project” at the UN, an effort undertaken with diabolical ingenuity by the accusation that the Jewish state was guilty of racism – the greatest of sins in the post-colonial period when newly minted states were regularly entering the world organization – and by making Israel morally equivalent to apartheid South Africa.
She presciently saw that this accusation would be justified not by facts or proof, but by “a systematic assault on language and meaning.”
She picked up on the first signs of this brazenly methodical effort to turn the narrative of the Holocaust inside-out by rebranding the Palestinians “the Jews of the Arab world” and the Israelis “ Nazis,” and she understood the likely consequences: “by successfully claiming that Israel was guilty of genocide, any attack against the state and people of Israel was justified.”
The passionate indignation over the treatment of Israel at the UN Jeane Kirkpatrick carried with her until her death in 2006 is nowhere visible in the Obama presidency whose cold friendship for the Jewish State has justly been compared to the Carter administration’s. But his treatment of Israel is also often cited as one of the reasons Carter lost to Ronald Reagan who immediately installed at the UN a woman who believed that “to defend Israel was to defend America and western civilization itself.” So perhaps the historical analogy carries with it a ray of hope after all.
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