United Nations General Assembly Resolution 3379, adopted on November 10, 1975 by a vote of 72 to 35 (with 32 abstentions), “determine[d] that Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination”. The vote took place approximately one year after UNGA 3237 granted the PLO “observer status”, following PLO president Yasser Arafat’s “olive branch” speech to the General Assembly in November 1974. The resolution was passed with the support of the Soviet bloc and other then Soviet-aligned nations, in addition to the Arab and Muslim majority countries.
Although little-known in the US today (it is remarkable how effectively the US and its allies have rewritten history in their favor), UN GA Res. 3379, titled “Elimination of all forms of racial discrimination,” made an indelible imprint on history.
The geographic distribution of the vote was telling. The countries that voted against the resolution were primarily colonial powers and/or their allies. The countries that voted for it were overwhelmingly formerly colonized and anti-imperialist nations.
The resolution also cited two other little-known measures passed by international organizations in the same year: the Assembly of the Heads of State and Government of the Organization of African Unity’s resolution 77, which ruled “that the racist regime in occupied Palestine and the racist regimes in Zimbabwe and South Africa have a common imperialist origin, forming a whole and having the same racist structure”; and the Political Declaration and Strategy to Strengthen International Peace and Security and to Intensify Solidarity and Mutual Assistance among Non-Aligned Countries, which called Zionism a “racist and imperialist ideology.”
At the UN on Nov. 11, 2015, US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power and Secretary of State John Kerry forcefully condemned the resolution on its 40th anniversary.
In his 2,500-word statement, Kerry mentioned Palestinians just once, and only then as an extension of Israelis. In her remarks, Power did not mention Palestinians at all.
The US secretary of state extolled “Zionism as the expression of a national liberation movement.” The national liberation movements of Vietnam, Korea, China, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Colombia, Congo, South Africa, Burkina Faso, and so many more nations, however, did not get such approval from Washington; au contraire, they were mercilessly crushed under the iron fist of American empire. Traditionally, only right-wing and settler-colonial “national liberation movements” have garnered the US’s official approval.
“Why do we Americans care so much about the rights of others being respected?” Kerry asked unprovoked. “Because, in an interconnected world, injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” He should tell that to the victims of US-backed dictatorships in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Qatar, Egypt, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Thailand, Brunei, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Uganda, and, once again, so many more nations.
In her speech at the UN, Power, like Kerry, conflated the heinous Nazi attacks on Jewish civilians in the Kristallnacht with UN GA Res. 3379. Both speakers cited the abominable horrors of the Holocaust several times as reasons to support Zionism, glossing over the fact that Zionism was created in the late 19th century and that the Balfour Declaration dates back to 1917, decades before World War II.
Amb. Power — a serial warmonger and veteran blame-dodger — did what she did best: rewrote history in the favor of US imperialism. She called the resolution “1975 smearing of Jews’ aspirations to have a homeland” and insisted multiple times that resolutions like 3379 “threaten the legitimacy of the UN.”
Like Kerry, Power conveniently forgot to mention that, when it comes to the halls of the UN, there is no other rogue state as blunt as the US, which regularly spits in the face of the international community, defying UN resolutions, violating the UN Charter, and breaking international law when it sees fit.
Although the Israeli government accuses the UN of bias, the evidence demonstrates the opposite. Secret cables released by whistleblowing journalism organization WikiLeaks revealed that the US and Israel worked hand-in-hand with the UN and Sec.-Gen. Ban in order to undermine investigation into and punitive action on Israel’s war crimes in Gaza.
In a 1902 letter to Cecil Rhodes — a diamond magnate and white supremacist British colonialist with oceans of African blood on his hands — the founding father of Zionism, Theodor Herzl, wrote of “the idea of Zionism, which is a colonial idea,” requested help colonizing historic Palestine.
“It doesn’t involve Africa, but a piece of Asia Minor, not Englishmen but Jews… How, then, do I happen to turn to you since this is an out-of-the-way matter for you? How indeed? Because it is something colonial,” Herzl wrote. “I want you to… put the stamp of your authority on the Zionist plan.”
The determination that “Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination”, contained in the resolution, was revoked in 1991 with UN General Assembly Resolution 46/86.
In July 1920, at the San Remo conference, a Class “A” League of Nations mandates over Palestine was allocated to the British. The preamble of the mandate document declared:
Whereas the Principal Allied Powers have also agreed that the Mandatory should be responsible for putting into effect the declaration originally made on November 2nd, 1917, by the Government of His Britannic Majesty, and adopted by the said Powers, in favour of the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, it being clearly understood that nothing should be done which might prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.
On 29 November 1947, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution recommending “to the United Kingdom, as the mandatory Power for Palestine, and to all other Members of the United Nations the adoption and implementation, with regard to the future government of Palestine, of the Plan of Partition with Economic Union” as Resolution 181 (II). The plan contained a proposal to terminate the British Mandate for Palestine and partition Palestine into “independent Arab and Jewish States and the Special International Regime for the City of Jerusalem.” On 14 May 1948, the day on which the British Mandate over Palestine expired, the Jewish People’s Council gathered at the Tel Aviv Museum, and approved a proclamation which declared the establishment of a Jewish state in Eretz Israel, to be known as the State of Israel.
On 11 May 1949, Israel was admitted to membership in the United Nations.
The resolution of 1975
The full text of Resolution 3379:
3379 (XXX). Elimination of all forms of racial discrimination
The General Assembly,
Recalling its resolution 1904 (XVIII) of 20 November 1963, proclaiming the United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, and in particular its affirmation that “any doctrine of racial differentiation or superiority is scientifically false, morally condemnable, socially unjust and dangerous” and its expression of alarm at “the manifestations of racial discrimination still in evidence in some areas in the world, some of which are imposed by certain Governments by means of legislative, administrative or other measures”,
Recalling also that, in its resolution 3151 G (XXVIII) of 14 December 1973, the General Assembly condemned, inter alia, the unholy alliance between South African racism and zionism,
Taking note of the Declaration of Mexico on the Equality of Women and Their Contribution to Development and Peace 1975, proclaimed by the World Conference of the International Women’s Year, held at Mexico City from 19 June to 2 July 1975, which promulgated the principle that “international co-operation and peace require the achievement of national liberation and independence, the elimination of colonialism and neo-colonialism, foreign occupation, zionism, apartheid and racial discrimination in all its forms, as well as the recognition of the dignity of peoples and their right to self-determination”,
Taking note also of resolution 77 (XII) adopted by the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the Organization of African Unity at its twelfth ordinary session, held at Kampala from 28 July to 1 August 1975, which considered “that the racist regime in occupied Palestine and the racist regime in Zimbabwe and South Africa have a common imperialist origin, forming a whole and having the same racist structure and being organically linked in their policy aimed at repression of the dignity and integrity of the human being”,
Taking note also of the Political Declaration and Strategy to Strengthen International Peace and Security and to Intensify Solidarity and Mutual Assistance among Non-Aligned Countries, adopted at the Conference of Ministers for Foreign Affairs of Non-Aligned Countries held at Lima from 25 to 30 August 1975, which most severely condemned zionism as a threat to world peace and security and called upon all countries to oppose this racist and imperialist ideology,
Determines that Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination.
In his address to the United Nations General Assembly the same day, November 10, 1975, Israeli Ambassador Chaim Herzog stated:
“I can point with pride to the Arab ministers who have served in my government; to the Arab deputy speaker of my Parliament; to Arab officers and men serving of their own volition in our border and police defense forces, frequently commanding Jewish troops; to the hundreds of thousands of Arabs from all over the Middle East crowding the cities of Israel every year; to the thousands of Arabs from all over the Middle East coming for medical treatment to Israel; to the peaceful coexistence which has developed; to the fact that Arabic is an official language in Israel on a par with Hebrew; to the fact that it is as natural for an Arab to serve in public office in Israel as it is incongruous to think of a Jew serving in any public office in an Arab country, indeed being admitted to many of them. Is that racism? It is not! That … is Zionism.”
In his response he also said that the resolution was:
“another manifestation of the bitter anti-Semitic, anti-Jewish hatred which animates Arab society. Who would have believed that in this year, 1975, the malicious falsehoods of the ‘Elders of Zion’ would be distributed officially by Arab governments? Who would have believed that we would today contemplate an Arab society which teaches the vilest anti-Jewish hate in the kindergartens? … We are being attacked by a society which is motivated by the most extreme form of racism known in the world today”
Herzog ended his statement, while holding a copy of the resolution, with these words:
“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.”
As he concluded his speech, Herzog tore the resolution in half.
The name of “The UN avenue” in Haifa, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv was switched to “The Zionism avenue” as a response to the UN’s decision.
Before the vote, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, the United States ambassador to the United Nations, warned that, “The United Nations is about to make anti-Semitism international law.” He delivered a speech against the resolution, including the famous line, “[The United States] does not acknowledge, it will not abide by, it will never acquiesce in this infamous act … A great evil has been loosed upon the world.”
In Campbell, California, in the United States, a group of high school students attempted to solicit signatures on the premises of a local shopping center for a petition against Resolution 3379. The result was the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision in Pruneyard Shopping Center v. Robins (1980) that supported states’ rights to expand the exercise of free speech, which California held was legal in what were considered public areas of a shopping mall.
Mexico’s vote in favor of the resolution led some United States Jews to organize a tourism boycott of Mexico. This ended after Mexican foreign minister Emilio Óscar Rabasa made a trip to Israel (Rabasa shortly afterward was forced to resign).
Voting record for Resolution 3379
Sponsoring: (25) Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Cuba, Dahomey (now Benin), Egypt, Guinea, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Yemen Arab Republic, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, South Yemen, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, and the United Arab Emirates.
In favour: (72) The 25 sponsoring nations above, and additionally 47 nations: Albania, Bangladesh, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burundi, Byelorussian SSR, Democratic Kampuchea, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Chad, People’s Republic of China, People’s Republic of the Congo, Cyprus, Czechoslovakia, Equatorial Guinea, The Gambia, East Germany, Grenada, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iran, Laos, Madagascar, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mexico, Mongolia, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Poland, Portugal, Rwanda, São Tomé and Príncipe, Senegal, Soviet Union, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Turkey, Uganda, Ukrainian SSR, and Yugoslavia.
Against: (35) Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Barbados, Belgium, Canada, Central African Republic, Costa Rica, Denmark, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Fiji, Finland, France, West Germany, Haiti, Honduras, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Ivory Coast (C’ote D’ivoire), Liberia, Luxembourg, Malawi, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Panama, Swaziland, Sweden, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay.
Abstaining: (32) Argentina, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Burma (Myanmar), Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Lesotho, Mauritius, Nepal, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Thailand, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Upper Volta (now Burkina Faso), Venezuela, Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo), Zambia.
United Nations General Assembly Resolution 46/86, adopted on 16 December 1991, revoked the determination in Resolution 3379, which had called Zionism a form of racism. Israel had made revocation of Resolution 3379 a condition of its participation in the Madrid Peace Conference, in progress in the last quarter of 1991.
The resolution was raised under pressure from the administration of US President George H.W. Bush. The text of the revocation was simply:
“The General Assembly Decides to revoke the determination contained in its resolution 3379 (XXX) of 10 November 1975.”
The motion was supported by 111 (including the 90 nations who sponsored the resolution), opposed by 25 nations and abstained by 13 nations.
Statement of revocation
George H. W. Bush personally introduced the motion to revoke 3379 with these words:
And now, for the first time, we have a real chance to fulfill the U.N. Charter’s ambition of working “to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and nations large and small to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom. Those are the words from the charter. We will not revive these ideals if we fail to acknowledge the challenge that the renewal of history presents.
….No one here can promise that today’s borders will remain fixed for all time. But we must strive to ensure the peaceful, negotiated settlement of border disputes. We also must promote the cause of international harmony by addressing old feuds. We should take seriously the charter’s pledge “to practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbors.”
UNGA Resolution 3379, the so-called “Zionism is racism” resolution, mocks this pledge and the principles upon which the United Nations was founded. And I call now for its repeal. Zionism is not a policy; it is the idea that led to the creation of a home for the Jewish people, to the State of Israel. And to equate Zionism with the intolerable sin of racism is to twist history and forget the terrible plight of Jews in World War II and, indeed, throughout history. To equate Zionism with racism is to reject Israel itself, a member of good standing of the United Nations.
This body cannot claim to seek peace and at the same time challenge Israel’s right to exist. By repealing this resolution unconditionally, the United Nations will enhance its credibility and serve the cause of peace.