Why does UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres dislike Israel so much?

His latest statement at the UN Security Council meeting, that 'Hamas attacks did not happen in a vacuum,' was just another confirmation of his negative attitude towards Israel. As he nears the end of his second term in office, the 74-year-old Portuguese official, who has always favored the Palestinians, is speaking out harshly against Israel, 'He incites hatred against the state and endangers Jewish communities around the world'

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres has never liked Israel. The Portuguese politician comes from the European left as the leader of the Social Democratic Party in Portugal and the president of the Socialist International organization. He has always preferred the Palestinians over Israel and considers them to be an underdog and Israel an occupying force.
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People who have known Guterres for years say that this is also reflected in the closed meetings he holds. He shows zero empathy for Israel - but his latest statement at the UN Security Council meeting shocked even those who already know him well. "It looks as if the man landed here from the moon," said a senior Israeli official. The official acknowledged that Guterres did begin his address to the Security Council by condemning the massacre committed by Hamas, "but in percentage terms it was maybe 5%. Just words to do his duty and get it out of the way. In his words there was no recognition of the Israeli suffering, as if he did not understand the fracture in Israel."
UN Secretary General: 'Hamas attacks did not occur in a vacuum'
(Video: United Nations)

In the last year and a half, Guterres has greatly worsened his statements against Israel and adopted the Palestinian narrative. It is hard to find his messages condemning attacks on Isael even after Israel calls him out and protests his stance. Even when he does issue a condemnation, it is usually accompanied by a condemnation of Israel regarding humanitarian issues.
The problem stems from the fact that this is Guterres's second and final term as head of the UN General Assembly and therefore he has allowed himself to loosen his tongue. He owes nothing to anyone and has nothing to lose. At the age of 74, he has already completed his political career and does not need to balance his statements to win American or anyone elses' support.

Reports that are distorted twice

The second problem is that Guterres has surrounded himself with people who belong to the humanitarian wing of the United Nations, and he served in the past as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. During Guterres' tenure, the political wing in the UN, which is more balanced toward Israel, was erased. All Guterres' assistants came from humanitarian agencies and, therefore, all come from some background that sees Israel as a problematic state.
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נתניהו וגוטרש בכינוס עצרת האו"ם
נתניהו וגוטרש בכינוס עצרת האו"ם
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets UN Sec.-Gen. Antonio Guterres on the sidelines of the last UN General Assembly meeting
(Photo: Avi Ohayon, GPO)
The third problem is that Guterres, as a European leftist, does not like the current leadership of Israel and its current government, although it should be noted that he did not have very good relations with the previous quasi-centrist government either.
Senior officials in Israel say that the problem is that most of the humanitarian agencies in the UN have only been exposed to the Palestinian narrative and some of them live under the threat of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, so their reports are distorted twice: for ideological reasons and due to fear of the reaction of the terrorist organizations. For example, UNRWA had to delete a tweet which accused Hamas of stealing 24,000 liters of fuel from his facility in Gaza. It feeds all the systems in the UN with messages that Israel is the bad guy in the conflict.
But in Israel they fail to understand why Guterres did not even try to show sensitivity toward the Israelis in the wake of the Hamas massacre. In fact, in Israel there is talk of a serious breakdown in relations with the secretary-general. If he wants contact with Israel, he will have to take steps to repair the damage he has caused and restore his relations with Israel. Foreign Minister Eli Cohen canceled his meeting with Guterres as a first response to his statements. Israel is also considering additional measures such as denying visas to UN personnel. On the other hand, in Israel it is emphasized that not all UN agencies are biased in this way, though it is clear there is a serious problem with prejudice and basic bias against Israel.
Unlike Guterres, for example, the previous UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who came from South Korea, loved Israel. He did condemn Israel at times, but at the same time always showed affection towards it.

A series of problematic statements

Since the October 7 massacre in Israel and the outbreak of the war, Guterres has made several very problematic statements. Every time he has condemned the Hamas massacre he has added the qualifying word "but." For example, he said that taking hostages is horrific and should be condemned, but this should not justify taking measures against the citizens of Gaza and committing "war crimes" or "collective punishment." In his October 18 New York Times op-ed, he wrote: "But these attacks cannot justify the collective punishment of the Palestinian people."
Guterres warned Israel not to commit war crimes or atrocities, even before it took any action against Hamas in Gaza. In Israel they claim that these warnings symbolize and brand the country and its citizens as demonic, merciless and bloodthirsty war criminals from the start.
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העצרת הכללית של האו"ם
העצרת הכללית של האו"ם
Sec.-Gen. Antonio Guterres addresses the United Nations General Assembly
(Photo: Reuters)
In a statement published in the last few days, Guterres referred, among other things, to the Geneva Convention. "International humanitarian law must be respected and observed - including the Geneva Convention," he wrote. " Hospitals, schools, clinics and United Nations premises must never be targeted.... I am horrified to hear the language of genocide enter the public discourse."
In Israel, Guterres is accused of spreading lies and of being a mouthpiece for Hamas propaganda. Guterres adopted the Hamas narrative and placed the blame for the events of October, including the very massacre of the Israelis themselves, on Israel - the victim - and not on Hamas.
On October 18, immediately after a large explosion on the grounds of Al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza, Guterres was quick to point fingers and imply that Israel was responsible: "I am horrified by the killing of hundreds of Palestinian civilians in an attack on a hospital in Gaza today, which I strongly condemn. My heart goes out to the families of the victims. Hospitals and medical staff are protected according to international humanitarian law." The statement issued by Guterres came rashly, shortly after the explosion, without even superficially investigating the incident.
The justification for the Hamas terrorists that shocked Israel and also many in the world was not the first time. In June 2022, Guterres expressed himself in a similar way at the conference of the countries donating to UNRWA. His words even implied a kind of justification for ISIS. He said then: "Imagine yourself in this situation, imagine what you would feel and imagine what would happen when someone from ISIS came to you and said, 'What are you doing, persevering in hope, why don't you join us and try to do whatever you want', you know, the things that happen more and more with terrorist organizations around the world."

'His statements are irresponsible and fuel fire and hatred'

An Israel official accuses Guterres of "creating a reprehensible moral equality between Israel and Hamas: countless official statements by the Secretary-General put Israel - a sovereign and law-abiding member state and Hamas - a despicable ISIS-like organization that favors genocide, on the same playing field." For example, Guterres said: "The terrible terrorist attacks by Hamas against Israel, which caused the death of more than 1,200 people and the injury of thousands more, led to the intense bombing of Gaza which killed 1,800 people, injured thousands more and degenerated the entire population into suffering and chaos."
The Israeli official adds that the "secretary-general is actually the CEO of the global organization that is charged with maintaining world peace and security, which was founded on the very principle of 'never again.' And yet, the UN and the world allowed 'never again' to happen again on October 7. The recent statements of the secretary-general are not only irresponsible and biased, but serve to fan the flames of hatred of Israel and antisemitism, and put Jewish communities around the world in mortal danger. He rejects children, men and women, the elderly, people with disabilities and more and it is necessary to cry out against him. Fanning the fire of hatred, mistrust and resentment of the Palestinians toward Israelis and Jews does nothing to promote peace and security, on the contrary. In fact, it causes both Israelis and Palestinians to continue to be hostages to Hamas and Islamic extremism, and a bleak future. The recent repeated failures of the secretary-general to even mention the Israeli victims and captives in his statements about the developing situation in Israel and Gaza; his explicit and implicit justification for cruel and barbaric acts of terrorism; and the spreading of his lies, including blood libels against Israel and Jews that are no different from those of his ancestors in the Andalusian Peninsula, must be considered obscene by the Jewish leadership around the world."
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  UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres
  UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres
(Photo: Reuters)
Sources in Israel even go so far as to accuse Guterres of fueling antisemitism in the world. It was Guterres himself who warned in his speech at the UNESCO conference in 2018, that "...anti-Semitism always returns." He stated in his remarks at the United Nations commemorating Holocaust Day, "...we must... recognize the need to prevent the recurrence of antisemitism." However, since the terrible events on October 7, Guterres has done the opposite of what he called for the international community to do in his last speech on International Remembrance Day in memory of the victims of the Holocaust, which he delivered on January 27, 2023: "Never be silent in the face of hatred. Never show patience for intolerance. Never be indifferent to the suffering of others."
"It is time for the secretary general to heed his words," the Israeli source said. "Anything less is irresponsible and uncaring at best, dangerous and destabilizing at worst. The secretary general must be made to understand that the eyes and ears of the world Jewish community are on him, and we will promise 'never again' if he does not do this. The world Jewish community cannot and will not remain silent this time in the face of reckless statements by the world leader himself who was chosen to protect our community and other vulnerable communities around the world."
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