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United Nations Building, New York City

*Editor’s Note: This is the fourth installment in a new series of articles from Alex Grobman, PhD  

The Soviets had a history of exploiting, vilifying and creating “primitive” antisemitic crusades to defame the Jewish people, Zionism, and delegitimizing Israel to advance their Marxist-Lenin ideology asserted historian Robert Wistrich. Israel *was* accused of “behaving like Nazis,” “pirates,” “vandals,” “practitioners of genocide” and “in their atrocities it seems they want to copy the crimes of the Hitler invaders.” For the “benefit” of their foreign and domestic audiences, the Soviets used words on a massive scale to provoke images of Nazis including: “Blitzkrieg,” “Herrenvolk”(master race), “Gauleiter” (regional leader of the Nazi Party), concentration camps, and “SS executioners.”[1]  


 Manipulating Language  

Manipulating language was one of the Communists most powerful weapons in their quest for world domination according to the late Stefan T. Possony, military strategist. “To the Communists,” he said, “words are tools to achieve effects, not means to communicate in search for truth.” They are “designed to disorient the noninitiated.” [2] “Language as a Communist Weapon: 

The relentless war of delegitimization of the Jewish State generated two very significant defeats for Israel, noted historian Joel Fishman. The first is when the Soviet Union played a key role in the passing of UN General Assembly Resolution 3379 on November 10, 1975, declaring Zionism is Racism. Significantly, this transpired on the 37th anniversary of the Kristallnacht (Night of the Broken Glass), establishing the ideological framework to transform Zionism into an evil entity. The second setback occurred when the UN General Assembly initiated the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, which met in Durban, South Africa from August 31 to September 8, 2001. Each represents a distinct stage of the same war. [3]  

 Carefully Designed International Campaign 

The passage of Z=R, was part of a carefully engineered worldwide campaign to delegitimize the State of Israel, after her enemies failed to expel her from that body. It vigorously promoted the resolution’s enactment by the UN General Assembly and kept the issue alive for a number of years at UN-sponsored conferences—even when there was decreased interest in the subject. Soon after the resolution passed, the Soviets launched a propaganda campaign against Zionism, exposing it as the enemy of the Soviet Union. From 1975 on, any official Soviet material about Zionism was based on the premise that it was evil.  

Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who served as US Ambassador to the UN in 1975, warned about the danger of connecting Zionism to racism: “Having failed to destroy Israel in combat…. the Soviet Union set out to undermine the very legitimacy of the Israeli state. Its leaders presumably calculated that Western governments would find it difficult to marshal popular support in the future for a country widely perceived to be illegitimate. And in this they would not be wrong.” On a previous occasion he said, “ I suggested that Israel has become a metaphor for democracy in a struggle being waged with something more than planes and tanks.” [4]  

Jeane Kirkpatrick, US Ambassador to the UN (1981–1985), added: “The lie that Zionism is racism has already spread far, and damaged many. The lie will only be expunged when it is pursued,[to demonstrate the facts are incorrect and] “to demonstrate that its consequences are deadly for all of us and for the institutions through which we would like to make peace and improv our society.” [5]  

Repeal of the Resolution in 1991 

 The New York Times reported eighty-five countries, a little more than half of the 166 members of the UN, co-sponsored the repeal, including the former Soviet Union and all its former Eastern European communist allies. Cuba, North Korea and Vietnam were the only communist countries to vote against the repeal. No Arab country voted for the repeal, but Bahrain, Egypt, Kuwait, Morocco, Oman and Tunisia were absent when the vote was taken, a sign that the measure had split Islamic and nonaligned governments. [6]  

A Final Note 

Meir Rosenne, who served as Israeli ambassador to Washington from 1983 to 1987, recalled the first time the Soviets  attempted to connect Zionism to racism happened in 1965, in order to prevent the UN including antisemitism in the international “Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.” “We simply did not realize at the time what truly was at stake,” he said. “Knowing that these resolutions are not legally binding, like all GA [UN General Assembly] resolutions, many countries did not react to it. What we did not grasp was the full magnitude of the system by which each such text is translated and disseminated in the millions throughout the world, so that this resolution has found its way into thousands of universities, libraries, schools, churches and other such institutions. In this manner, the distortion of the principles of the U.N. has even been insinuated into textbooks, used in high schools and even in primary schools—poisoning the minds of receptive young people.” [7] 


[1] Robert Wistrich, A Lethal Obsession: Anti-Semitism from Antiquity to the Global Jihad (New York: Random House, 2010),139; Bernard Lewis, “The Arab-Israeli War,” Foreign Affairs (January 1968); Bernard Lewis, “The Anti-Zionist Resolution,” Foreign Affairs (October 1976); Joel S. Fishman, “The Cold-War Origins of Contemporary Anti-Semitic Terminology,” (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs Number 517 (May 2-16, 2004); Joel S. Fishman,  “The Big Lie and the Media War Against Israel: From Inversion of the Truth to Inversion of Reality,” Jewish Political Studies Review 19 Numbers 1 and 2. (2007). 

[2] “Language as a Communist Weapon: Consultation with Dr. Stefan T. Possony,” United States. Congress. House. Committee on Un-American Activities U.S. Government Printing Office, (March 2, 1959):1,32. 

[3] Joel Fishman, “A Disaster of Another Kind”: Zionism=Racism, Its Beginning, and the War of Delegitimization against Israel,” Israel Journal of Foreign Affairs  Volume 5, issue 3 ( 2011): 75-92. 

[4] Yohanan Manor, To Right A Wrong: The Revocation of the UN General Assembly Resolution 3379 Defaming Zionism (New York: Shengold Publishers, Inc., 1996), 132; 

[5] Manor op.cit. 136. 

[6] Paul Lewis, “U.N. Repeals Its ’75 Resolution Equating Zionism With Racism,” The New York Times (December 17, 1991): 1, 12; “The U.N. Expunges a Smear,” The New York Times (December 17, 1991); “Repealing United Nations General Assembly Resolution 3379,” Congressional Record Volume 137, Number 140 (October 3, 1991). On the same day, the UN voted 152-1, with the U.S. abstaining, to urge Israel to revoke a resolution declaring Jerusalem as its capital. David Harsanyi, “The United Nation’s War Against Israel,” Capitalism Magazine (May 27, 2002). 

[7] Manor, op.cit. 136-137. 



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Dr. Alex Grobman is the senior resident scholar at the John C. Danforth Society and a member of the Council of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East. He has an MA and PhD in contemporary Jewish history from The Hebrew university of Jerusalem. He lives in Jerusalem.