US pressuring Israel to oppose UN ban on pro-Nazi rhetoric

The US opposes a UN resolution that bans pro-Nazi speech, because it contradicts the First Amendment to the constitution. How Will Israel vote under pressure from Trump?

By: AP

The US plans to vote against a yearly resolution at the United Nations (UN) that condemns the glorification of Nazism, State Department officials said Wednesday.

Although it may seem counterintuitive, US officials said free speech protections and other problems with the resolution make it impossible for America to support.

Introduced by Russia, the resolution calls on all UN nations to ban pro-Nazi speech and organizations, and to implement other restrictions on Nazi speech and assembly.

That’s a non-starter in the US, where First Amendment protections guarantee the right to utter almost anything they want — even praise for Adolf Hitler’s followers.

Will Israel, the close US ally whose history is intertwined with the Holocaust, vote with the US? In the past, Israel has voted for the resolution. But Washington has been pushing the Jewish state to vote “no” this year, or at a minimum to abstain.

It’s unclear how Israel will vote. A spokesman for Israel’s mission to the UN didn’t respond to a request for comment.

The US votes against the resolution every year, along with just a handful of others, while the European Union (EU) nations and some others typically abstain. The resolution always passes overwhelmingly, usually with little fanfare.

But this year, the “no” vote from the US is likely to create more of a stir, given it’s the first rendition of the vote since President Donald Trump entered office. Trump adamantly denies any secret affinity for white supremacists.

US officials are working overtime this year to try to explain that no, America doesn’t support pro-Nazi speech — but can’t vote for a resolution that calls for outlawing it, either. The vote is scheduled for Thursday in the UN General Assembly’s human rights committee.

All resolutions in the General Assembly committees are nonbinding and don’t impose any legal requirements on member nations. But American support for resolutions that contradict domestic law could end up being used as arguments in US federal court, and officials worry about undermining national law enforcement efforts.