UN Chief: Desire to destroy Israel is modern anti-Semitism

UN Secretary-General Guterres visits Yad Vashem, says he's committed to fighting anti-Semitism.

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President Reuven Rivlin and UN Secretary-General António Guterres
President Reuven Rivlin and UN Secretary-General António Guterres
Mark Neiman, GPO

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin on Monday morning met United Nations Secretary General António Guterres at the President's Residence in Jerusalem.

Guterres landed in Israel on Sunday for a three-day official trip.

Rivlin greeted Guterres by welcoming him "to Israel and Jerusalem, in the name of Israel's government and people." He also said Israel "appreciates Guterres' success in his important position."

"We appreciate what the United Nations' efforts to combat hunger and illness, and to raise awareness f challenges," Rivlin said. "But at the same time, standing in the Jewish nation's eternal capital of Jerusalem, we need to remember an important lesson: The UN was founded on the understanding that we need nation-states. The UN allows nation-states to work together for the sake of humanity."

"We understand this better than anyone," he added. "Israel is the only place where the Jewish nation can fulfill its rights to self-definition. Unfortunately, we see all around us how when a nation-state is destroyed, a humanitarian crisis ensues, during which the state is too weak to properly help its citizens."

Rivlin also called on Guterres to reduce the anti-Israeli discrimination rampant in the UN.

"I call on you, the Secretary-General, to work to end the discrimination against Israel in some of the hallways of the organization you lead," he said. "The bias against Israel and for nations which threaten to destroy Israel is unacceptable. These nations need to pay a price. No UN member should be allowed to act this way. We appreciate your brave leadership against the anti-Israel bias, and we hope we will be able to work together."

"Israel is still committed to peace with her neighbors. We cannot allow Hamas in Gaza to gain weapons again. The world must insist Hamas return our sons home to their families. I call on you to help bring our sons home."

Guterres told Rivlin about his visit to Yad Vashem.

"I began my visit in your beautiful land with two very emotional moments, at Yad Vashem and at the Righteous Among the Nations boulevard. Yad Vashem reminds us of the Holocaust, and that the first line of defense is to fight anti-Semitism and other forms of hate and racism. The boulevard symbolizes understanding between nations. It is my task to advance dialogue and peace."

"I want to promise you that you can trust and feel confident in that as Secretary-General, I will emphasize the values of the Righteous Among the Nations. I will pay equal attention to every nation, and I am fully committed to this. I believe that those who you have said call for Israel's destruction, are displaying a modern form of anti-Semitism.

"The dialogue will always be honest, in order to allow for regional peace. We are committed to not allowing anti-Semitism, and ensuring each country receives equal treatment."

Earlier on Monday at Yad Vashem, Guterres laid a wreath in the Hall of Remembrance.

"As we witness a new wave of shocking and dangerous racism, the entire world must stand up and unequivocally denounce antisemitism," he said.