Israel and Jewish world mourn former UN chief Kofi Annan

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Israel and Jewish world mourn former UN chief Kofi Annan

Annan, praised by many for his continued fight against anti-Semitism, was described as a “friend of Israel.”

By Ilanit Chernick 

Israel’s Foreign Ministry, together with country’s prime minister and several Jewish organizations, have expressed sorrow following the death of former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan on Saturday.

The Ghanian-born 80-year-old former UN leader died “peacefully after a short illness,” his foundation said in a statement.

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Annan, praised by many for his continued fight against anti-Semitism, was described as a “friend of Israel.”

“As UN Secretary General, he resisted the delegitimization of Israel,” the Israeli Foreign Ministry said. He fought actively against Holocaust denial and supported in 2006 the UN initiative on International Holocaust Remembrance Day.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu echoed these sentiments, adding that “we will remember him as having been very active in the international arena.”

Mourning Annan’s loss and recalling its long relationship with him, UN Watch, an NGO that monitors the United Nations, said Annan was the first UN secretary general to “so strongly and consistently join” the organization’s call on the world body “to end its self-destructive anti-Israeli discrimination.”

“In 1998, on a visit to Israel, Annan acknowledged UN bias against the Jewish state, and he called to ‘rectify an anomaly: Israel’s position as the only Member State that is not a member of one of the regional groups, which means it has no chance of being elected to serve on main organs such as the Security Council or the Economic and Social Council. This anomaly should be corrected. We must uphold the principle of equality among all United Nations Member States,’” the NGO recalled in a statement. “Annan called for the ‘normalization of Israel’s status within the United Nations.’”

World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder said that Annan will be remembered as a tour de force within the halls of the United Nations.

“[He] was a dedicated diplomat who, throughout his life, embodied the mandate of the United Nations to foster relations and cooperation among members of the international community.

“Mr. Annan’s tenure as secretary general spanned some of the most difficult years of the Arab-Israeli conflict, including the bus bombings of the 1990s, Israel’s 2000 withdrawal from Lebanon, the entirety of the second Intifada which wreaked deadly terror across Israel, and the Second Lebanon War in 2006, in which he helped secure a truce between Israel and Hezbollah,” Lauder said. “While his politics were often radically different from those of the Israeli government and the Jewish Diaspora, he made clear his position that the right of the State of Israel to exist was not up for negotiation, nor was the Jewish people’s historic connection to the land.”

Lauder added that under Annan’s watch as secretary general in 2005, the UN established International Holocaust Remembrance Day, “a critical mechanism of commemoration for the six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust, and the millions of others who perished at the hands of the Nazis. Every year on January 27, thanks to Mr. Annan, the world remembers the greatest genocide in history and reflects on the tragic consequences that can arise from complacency to hatred.”

 

Source: World Israel News

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