UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told officials from the Simon Wiesenthal Center that “denial of Israel’s right to exist is anti-Semitism,” the organization said.
Guterres told senior members of the NGO at his offices at UN headquarters in New York that he rejects campaigns to erase Jewish history in the Holy Land. “History must be respected. Jerusalem is a holy city for three religions,” Guterres said, according to a press release on the meeting issued by the center on Tuesday.
The UN’s cultural organization UNESCO recently passed several resolutions that ignored Jewish ties to Jerusalem. Guterres has spoken out against that characterization in the past.
Guterres and the heads of the Jewish human rights group discussed various issues including challenges to achieving Mideast peace, global terrorism, the UN’s role in countering anti-Semitism in Europe, and Israel’s treatment by UN agencies.
Rabbi Marvin Hier, Dean and Founder of the center, called on Guterres to move to declare terrorism a crime against humanity.
“There needs to be real consequences for perpetrators and supporters of terrorist acts like the recent suicide bombing carnage at a concert in Manchester,” Hier said. “England and the UN must declare that this scourge is a crime against humanity.”
Guterres said he would seek to reform UN agencies to better deal with the issue, acknowledging that the current model of 38 separate entities working on the matter was inefficient.
Hier added that the terror group Hamas, with its genocidal charter and terrorist activities, was a central roadblock to peace progress. Guterres admitted that the UN had been used by Hamas in Gaza to a certain extent and expressed his “very strong commitment to not allowing UNWRA to be instrumentalized” by the group. Hamas had “succeeded in leveraging the UN in Gaza,” the Center quoted Guterres as saying.
“We are profoundly impressed by the scope of Secretary-General Guterres’s knowledge and interest on issues that impact world Jewry directly,” Hier said later. “As an NGO at the UN and UNESCO, the Wiesenthal Center is committed to support the Secretary-General’s efforts to ensure that all members, including the Jewish state, be treated as equals.”
On Sunday the UN said it had withdrawn support for a West Bank Palestinian women’s center named for a notorious terrorist, saying the move was “offensive” and glorified terrorism.
“The United Nations disassociated itself from the Center once it learned the offensive name chosen for it and will take measures to ensure that such incidents do not take place in the future,” said a statement from Stéphane Dujarric, spokesman for Guterres.
The center was named after Dalal Mughrabi, who took part in the 1978 Coastal Road Massacre. Mughrabi and several other Fatah terrorists landed on a beach near Tel Aviv, hijacked a bus on Israel’s Coastal Road and killed 38 civilians, 13 of them children, and wounded over 70.
“The glorification of terrorism, or the perpetrators of heinous terrorist acts, is unacceptable under any circumstances,” the UN statement said. “The UN has repeatedly called for an end to incitement to violence and hatred as they present one of the obstacles to peace.”
“The United Nations support to this community ended last year and it has asked for the logo of UN Women to be removed immediately. Furthermore, the inauguration of the Center took place after the UN’s association with it,” the statement said.
The UN move came two days after Norway’s foreign minister condemned the PA for naming the center after Mughrabi, demanding the country’s name be removed from the building and that the funds Norway donated for its construction be returned.