Senior UN official skips Holocaust memorial amid accusations of anti-Israel bias, threats from U.S. Jews

By Shlomo Shamir

NEW YORK – UN General Assembly President Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann skipped the world body’s ceremony marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day yesterday, after American Jewish leaders threatened to demonstratively exit the event if he used the podium to attack Israel.

D’Escoto, who has repeatedly made strongly anti-Israel statements, was to be the event’s host, by virtue of his official position, and he was scheduled give the opening speech. Advertisement

Last year, d’Escoto (who began his one-year term as president last September) likened Israel’s actions in the West Bank and Gaza to “the apartheid of an earlier era,” and tried to ban Israel’s envoy to the UN from speaking at a ceremony to mark 60 years since the institution’s adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Gabriela Shalev, Israel’s ambassador to the UN, had also threatened to quit yesterday’s ceremony should d’Escoto lash out at Israel.

Several American Jewish groups, including the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, had earlier sought to have d’Escoto excluded from the ceremony, but to no avail.

In her speech to the assembly, Shalev said the world has the “responsibility not to remain silent” to the genocide perpetrated by the Nazis during World War II.

“To remain silent and indifferent to the horrors of the Holocaust is probably the greatest sin of all, let alone denying it,” she said.

“We have a responsibilty to act against the forces of anti-Semitism, bigotry and racism in any form.”

Some 1,600 guests were expected to attend the event, ranging from Holocaust survivors to UN ambassadors.