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February 22, 2006
Swastikas And Sieg Heils At Turtle Bay

The guards at the United Nations have engaged in a pattern of harrassment towards Israelis in their department, including entering swastikas and Nazi salutes, while UN management has mostly done nothing to end the anti-Semitic behavior. The New York Sun reports that except for the American undersecretary-general for management, who has urged more severe consequences:

The U.N. incident, as was pieced together by the Sun after talking to four sources who asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the subject, began last September at a guard post inside Turtle Bay, where entry permits are inspected and the identities of visitors are recorded in an official log book.

The Israeli guard has just taken a scheduled break and his post was manned by a fellow guard, who is from Haiti. Upon returning to his post, the Israeli guard discovered that two swastikas had been drawn in the log book. As a descendent of Holocaust victims, the guard decided he could not overlook the drawings, which he felt were left as a message to him. He complained to his superiors. In the investigation that ensued, the Haitian guard denied he had meant any offense, saying instead that the symbols were nothing but "innocent doodles," according to an official familiar with the investigation.

The U.N. security chief, Bruno Henn, tried to draw the investigation to an end within his department. The Israeli guard, however, demanded a more extensive investigation and that the guard who had offended him be given a severe reprimand. It was then that the Israeli was met by Nazi salutes in the guards' quarters. Mr. Henn declined to comment to the Sun. The matter was brought to the attention of other officials, but they too wanted to leave the offense as a "category 2" case, a misdemeanor that is deemed best investigated within the department.

The irony is that UN management specifically wanted Israelis as guards to change the image of Turtle Bay from anti-Israel to something more open and accepting. Now when they have Israelis working at the facility, the Haitians and other guards treat them with more open anti-Semitism than even the General Assembly would dare show, a rather high threshold to top.

Even worse is the indictment of management as incompetent and ineffectual that this incident provides. After five months, no one still has addressed a situation that would have taken all of five minutes at any corporation in the US. A guard who draws swastikas in official logs -- or who has nothing better to do than draw "innocent doodles" in one -- would find himself out on the street looking for another job. The same fate would await the co-workers who issue Nazi salutes in a deliberate attempt to insult and provoke others in the department. It wouldn't take five months for management to wring their hands.

In fact, one might suppose that any other expression of bigotry and racism would result in immediate action by UN management. Had the roles been reversed and the Israelis drawn crude anti-Haitian or racist "doodles" in the official log books, they would have seen the outside of the building tout suite. The mild response to this harrassment has only reinforced the image of Turtle Bay as a hostile environment for Israel and Jews. The UN may have hired the Israelis to argue that "some of its best employees are Jewish," but their lack of action in the face of anti-Semitism makes it difficult to reach any other conclusion.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at February 22, 2006 5:53 AM

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