After acquiring control over the territory known as Palestine in the aftermath of its victory in World War I, the British soon realized that there were no simple solutions when two peoples claim the same land.

Despite the Balfour Declaration of 1917, the British government wavered back and forth on its support of a Jewish state in Palestine, eventually asking the nascent United Nations to suggest a course of action. On November 29, 1947, the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 181 calling for the creation of independent Jewish and Arab states in the area known as Palestine, which triggered jubilation among Palestine’s Jews.

The Arab nations opposed Israel’s existence from the moment Resolution 181 passed, engaging in regional wars in 1948, 1956, 1967 and 1973, all of which Israel survived. The Arab bloc, along with its benefactor the Soviet Union, tried to harm Israel diplomatically, by equating Zionism, the Jewish yearning for a return to its ancestral homeland, with racism. On November 10, 1975, corresponding to 6 Kislev, General Assembly Resolution 3379 concluded that Zionism is “a form of racism and racial discrimination” passed 72 to 25, with 32 abstentions.

Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations (and future President of Israel) Chaim Herzog delivered a blistering rebuttal from the rostrum of the United Nations General Assembly by noting that Arabs serve as ministers in the Israeli government, are members of Israel’s army and its security services, and that Arabic is an official language of Israel. Herzog called the resolution “anti-Semitic.” He concluded his speech, “For us, the Jewish people, this resolution based on hatred, falsehood and arrogance, is devoid of any moral or legal value. For us, the Jewish people, this is no more than a piece of paper and we shall treat it as such.” Herzog then dramatically ripped up a draft of the resolution.

U.S. ambassador to the UN, and future New York senator, Daniel P. Moynihan, in condemning the resolution, declared that the United States will not accept or “acquiesce this infamous act,” and codifying anti-Semitism as international law.

Sixteen years later, on December 16, 1991, as a pre-condition to Israeli participation in the 1991 Madrid Peace Conference, United Nations General Assembly Resolution 46/86 revoked Resolution 3379, by a vote of 111-25 with 13 abstentions.

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