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UN chief chided, though his Holocaust statement didn’t annul Jews

António Guterres didn't mention Jews in a clip shared on social media, but his full statement did and quoted former chief rabbi Jonathan Sacks.

U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres in Saint Petersburg during an interview with Russian TV, June 1, 2017. Credit: Truba7113/Shutterstock.
U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres in Saint Petersburg during an interview with Russian TV, June 1, 2017. Credit: Truba7113/Shutterstock.

“Today, we pause to mourn the 6 million Jewish children, women and men systematically murdered by the Nazis and their collaborators—and we grieve the Roma and Sinti, the people with disabilities and so many others who were persecuted and killed in the Holocaust,” António Guterres, the U.N. secretary-general, said on Saturday.

“The antisemitic hate that fueled the Holocaust did not start with the Nazis, nor did it end with their defeat. Today, we are witnessing hate spreading at alarming speed. Online, it has moved from the margins to the mainstream,” the U.N. chief added further, in his statement for International Holocaust Remembrance Day, annually held on Jan. 27.

He further quoted the former U.K. chief rabbi Jonathan Sacks, who said, “The hate that begins with Jews never ends with Jews.” And Guterres added, “today—especially in the wake of the abhorrent Oct. 7 terror attacks by Hamas—we must resolve to stand up against the forces of hate and division.”

“We must condemn—unequivocally—whenever and wherever we encounter antisemitism—just as we must condemn all forms of racism, prejudice and religious bigotry, including anti-Muslim hatred and violence against minority Christian communities,” the U.N. head added.

Remarks from António Guterres, U.N. secretary-general, on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, on Jan. 27, 2024. Credit: United Nations.

But when he shared his remarks on social media, Guterres did not link to his full remarks. Instead, he posted just a 30-second clip and wrote, “Today, we honor the memory of the victims of the Holocaust. We pledge never to forget—nor let others forget the truth of what happened. We recognize the horrific resonance this day of commemoration finds in our own times.”

Many, who evidently didn’t see the full statement, slammed Guterres for erasing Jews on Holocaust Remembrance Day.

“You do not honor the memory of the victims of the Holocaust when you tell their descendants not to fight against terrorist monsters, who reduced whole families to human ash and are threatening to do it ‘again and again,’” wrote Eylon Levy, an Israeli government spokesman.

“How to commemorate the Holocaust without mentioning Jewish people at all,” added Simon Sebag Montefiore, a British historian.

“This man should have resigned after saying that the Hamas savagery which saw babies murdered and women raped and mutilated ‘did not happen in a vacuum,’” wrote Jake Wallis Simmons, editor of the London Jewish Chronicle. “Instead he kept his job and is free to honor the Holocaust today while erasing Jews from its memory.”

John Podhoretz, editor of Commentary magazine, went after Guterres with a $10 word.

“What’s the missing word, you pusillanimous bureaucrat of the world’s most corrupt international institution? Where’s the word ‘Jew,’” Podhoretz wrote. “Say it. ‘Jew.’ Only not like the way you say it in private, you know, when you say ‘filthy Jew,’ or ‘uppity Jew.’”

It’s just 12 terrorists …

Accusations, at least on social media, that Guterres had erased Jews came as several countries are now suspending funding to a U.N. agency following charges that 12 U.N. staff members participated in Hamas’s Oct. 7 terror attack on Israel.

Philippe Lazzarini
Philippe Lazzarini, commissioner-general of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), during a visit to the al-Shati refugee camp in Gaza City on Oct. 12, 2021. Photo by Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90.

Philippe Lazzarini, commissioner general of the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, also released a statement on Holocaust Remembrance Day.

The UNRWA head both ignored Jews and appeared to suggest that a dozen staff members accused of participating in the bloodiest attack on Jews since the Holocaust hadn’t reached a threshold that would make it a big deal.

“Nine countries have as of today temporarily suspended their funding to UNRWA,” Lazzarini stated. “These decisions threaten our ongoing humanitarian work across the region, including and especially in the Gaza Strip.”

Lazzarini said it is “shocking” to see nations suspend funding “in reaction to allegations against a small group of staff, especially given the immediate action that UNRWA took by terminating their contracts and asking for a transparent independent investigation.”

“It would be immensely irresponsible to sanction an agency and an entire community it serves because of allegations of criminal acts against some individuals, especially at a time of war, displacement and political crises in the region,” he added.

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