The relationship of Israel to the UN has always been difficult. Over the years, the organization has both reflected worldwide anti-Jewish prejudice and provided a focus for intervention against Israel’s interests.
UN General Assembly resolution 3379 which in 1975 declared Zionism “a form of racism and racial discrimination” was finally repealed sixteen years later thanks to the efforts of US Senator Daniel P. Moynahan, Assistant Secretary of State John Bolton and President George H. W. Bush, a president not generally considered particularly pro-Israel.
According to Dr. Yohanon Manor, the Israeli government didn’t take the resolution seriously for almost a decade, thinking that the “farfetched, aberrant, and shameful” declaration would fade from significance because of its “sheer inanity.” However, it was reiterated time and again in international fora and used to justify discrimination against Israel, Jews and Jewish organizations.
It should have been obvious at the time that this was something larger than just a maneuver by the Soviets to appease their Arab clients. It tapped deeply into the same dark forces which have lately gathered strength throughout the world. Manor quotes a member of the Israeli delegation, Judge Hadassah Ben Ito, who described the mood of its proponents after passage:
It was not only an excitement. The hatred was crawling on the floor. People embraced as if they had won the biggest victory of their lives…. We felt like pariahs. It is not only a sentimental reflection…. We should know that it was not just another resolution of the United Nations. Somebody like myself, who has never really felt personally attacked by, or maligned by an act of anti-Semitism, really felt it physically while sitting there.
There is a familiar feeling that comes over one while reading this. The expression of joyous Jew-hatred described by Ben Ito is well-known to anyone who has been at an anti-Israel demonstration, and observed the exaltation of the activists as they scream their slogans. Perhaps the UN delegates felt the same dopamine rush that SJP members do today when they disrupt an event featuring an Israeli speaker.
Although the resolution was finally rescinded, little changed at the UN, where Israel is the member state everyone loves to hate. Recently, the Security Council reacted with horrified alarm to the ‘menace’ of Israel’s intention to hold on to the Golan Heights, thus keeping it out of the hands of Da’esh or the Butcher of Damascus. In a normal world, one would expect thanks rather than condemnation.
Although the US traditionally protected Israel against the worst excesses of the UN, this appears to be changing, with the Obama Administration in its last year threatening to use the UN to force Israel to make concessions to the PA.
During the Cold War, American policymakers could choose to support Israel as a way to counterbalance the Soviet influence among the Arab states, or to placate the Arabs by opposing Israel. State Department Arabists always pushed for the latter policy, while most American Jews – and Christian Zionists like Harry Truman – preferred the former and made their preference felt.
Now the world looks very different, with the US and Russia apparently competing for the favor of Iran, the rising power in the Mideast.
The US State Department is as anti-Israel as ever. But it has been joined by an even more fiercely ideological White House, which, it seems to me, not only shares the desire of State to reverse the outcome of the 1967 war, but (although the President and his advisors will not say it publicly) would not cry if the Jewish state disappeared altogether.
There is little to hold back the anti-Israel forces in the US. A vestige of the Cold War imperative to oppose the expansion of Russian influence still exists, although it is far less pressing than in the days of the USSR. The US Congress is divided, and – as shown by the Iran deal – unable or unwilling to limit the President’s actions in the foreign sphere. Israel has become a partisan issue, and US Jews are divided as well.
The ‘Zionism is racism’ declaration, as a General Assembly resolution, was not binding and didn’t directly affect Israel. Despite this, it did a lot of damage as a justification for anti-Israel and anti-Jewish actions by other organizations. In Manor’s words, it “[gave] anti-Semitism international sanction.”
But the Security Council can pass binding resolutions, impose economic sanctions or even call for military action (as happened in the Korean War). It could, for example, put its imprimatur on a Syrian peace deal that includes stripping Israel of the strategic Golan Heights, and then sanction Israel if it did not withdraw, blaming Israel for sabotaging the peace. Obama would certainly want to take credit for such a deal and would not prevent it.
Next to Iran/Hezbollah, the biggest threat facing Israel is the reduction of strategic depth and empowerment of the ‘Palestinians’ by the diplomatic ‘peace process’ imposed by the US, Europe and the UN. This will soon begin with a French-introduced resolution which will declare settlements illegal and set parameters for talks between Israel and the PA/PLO. Administration spokespersons have refused to say whether the US would veto such a resolution, and it seems likely that the United States will at least demand serious concessions to the ‘peace process’ as a quid pro quo.
Israel’s special problem in international diplomacy is that in addition to the normal computations of national interest, there are irrational religious, ideological and racial/ethnic considerations that motivate states to act against us. The elation exhibited by the UN delegates after the passage of an anti-Zionist resolution is one manifestation of this. Another is the blatant double standard applied to Israel, especially by ‘enlightened’ Europeans, on such subjects as occupation (of territory that is ours according to international law), acquisition of territory by force (in a defensive war), proportionate response (more so than any other Western military), security measures (against terrorism) and countless other things.
As time goes by, Israel will less and less be able to depend on the weakening West. Our survival will be based on political agility and our ability to make alliances wherever possible, especially with states like Russia and China, which hold veto power in the Security Council, but also temporary accommodations with declared enemies like Saudi Arabia or Erdoğan’s Turkey.
The best strategy to deal with irrational prejudice is to act from strength, and to demand respect if we can’t have friendship. Today Israel has considerable economic, technological and military clout, which it should not hesitate to use in its foreign relations.
Being the world’s only Jewish state brings with it unique problems and stresses, but independence, Jewish self-determination and, above all, the realization of the dream for which our ancestors prayed daily for thousands of years, more than justifies the cost.
Obama has consistently been bent on engaging the UN as if it were the central part of his foreign policy, as well as the sole arbiter of international law – all while the UN itself has rapidly succumbed to the influence of radical Islam. This is in direct opposition to every other President during my life time.
Obama’s speech to the Muslim world from Cairo University in 2009 delivered nothing short of a paean to Islam. He praised Islam as the precursor of the Renaissance and the Enlightenment, and called it a religion of peace and tolerance – a sentiment he has repeated a hundred times. None of Obama’s paeans to Islam are based in historical fact. He is complicit, along with the UN, whose power he has wanted to enhance, in a propaganda campaign. They have used the irreproachable shield of “religion” to disguise a barbaric system of oppressive laws.
Obama didn’t just heap undeserved praise on Islam in that Cairo speech. He apologized for the supposed transgressions of the West against the Muslim people. All this obsequiousness accomplished was to feed the Islamists’ narrative of victimhood at the hands of an imaginary “neo-colonialist” American-Zionist cabal. This false narrative, constructed mostly from bizarre conspiracy theories, helped to fuel resentment and murderous fury throughout the (mostly illiterate) Muslim world.
In this speech Obama declared that “it is important for Western countries to avoid impeding Muslim citizens from practicing religion as they see fit”. He apologized to the Muslim world that his country’s “rules on charitable giving have made it harder for Muslims to fulfill their religious obligation.” He then promised to change all that: “I’m committed to work with American Muslims to ensure that they can fulfill zakat.”
While the OIC is the Islamists’ principal intergovernmental arm, it works in tandem with the Muslim Brotherhood’s NGO’s. These NGO’s have significant clout in shaping the UN’s agenda in “the service of Islam.” It has used its power in the UN Human Rights Council and General Assembly to pass a series of resolutions defining “defamation of religions” as a violation of international law, overriding any right of free expression. Many countries in Europe have adopted these laws that prohibit any criticism of Islam. Recently, Obama alluded to the need to consider such a law to counteract so-called Islamaphobia!
Obama’s top State Department legal advisor, Harold Koh, believes that the US Constitution must conform with International norms. This former dean of Yale Law School, believes American courts should apply international legal norms to their interpretations of the Constitution – even if such norms are embodied in treaties our elected officials have previously rejected. In a 2007 meeting of the Yale Club he stated that he did not see why sharia law could not be applied to decide a case in the US. And he has unequivocally endorsed a “transnational” approach to jurisprudence, which aims to bring the US into line with international norms. So much for the self-governing sovereign nation our Founding Fathers created more than two centuries ago. So, I have no doubt that Obama will not follow the law and protect Israel’s legal rights before he leaves office.
Islamists now have the power to rewrite international law because they dominate the UN General Assembly, the Human Rights Council and other global forums. Their dominance comes from their enormous voting bloc of 56 Muslim member states. This bloc usually votes in unison, and often bring with them their allies in Latin America, Asia, and Africa. The Europeans often acquiesce to the Islamic agenda because they are too afraid to offend the Islamists or are too economically beholden to them to take a moral stand. And with Obama busy placating world opinion in general and the Islamists in particular, the easier it is for him to claim that these votes are simply reflecting international opinion. And Obama gives every indication of wanting to be in synch with world opinions. So I expect Obama to increasingly join in Europe’s appeasement. Just look at Obama’s groveling “engagement” with the thugs in Iran.
Despite scandal after devastating scandal, the UN is still regarded by many nations – including the US under Obama – as the most legitimate arbiter of international legal norms. And since the US and other democracies take international legal norms and world opinion into account when crafting their own policies and domestic laws, the Islamists have now found a potent means to use our own system of laws against us. Because of Obama’s aggressive outreach to the Muslim world and his obsession with currying international approval, Obama has lead the US directly into the Islamists’ trap. And unless a republican succeeds Obama, one who will stop courting the Islamists and international opinion so assiduously, the US is in danger of becoming another “special place” for sharia-friendly institutions.
This was another great essay. And I particularly liked Nancy B’s thoughtful addendum.
A funny thing happened while reading the first half of this piece. The computer ‘radio’ was on and I was listening to excerpts from Secure Freedom Radio interviewing a bestselling author about the mostly British-trained group of Norwegians who had worked to sabotage the Third Reich’s efforts to acquire heavy water for a Nazi A-bomb program. When my reading came to the part where you were discussing the use of the Golan as leverage for extracting more peace concessions from Israel, all of the week’s dreary news about the Golan and the Palestinians and the Syrians (slaughtered and itinerant), an image of all the Israelis being forced to flee Israel and seek shelter in the West (or anywhere that would take them in), much like the Jewish scientists had who eventually worked on the US A-bomb program–the Soviets ended up with many of the Jewish scientists as well; there was a sort of a general competition for the ablest of this small group. Many of the industrious Israelis would probably end up in good positions here. But they would have to be the image of a scattered and helpless people again, seeking protection from the very places that had not done enough to stem the wave of anti-Semitism worldwide that would have precipitated an event that could cause the Israelis to flee.
This was not just a flight of fancy, but a searing image that came to me unbidden. So far, Netanyahu has been most cautious and most delicate in keeping the Obama Administration’s and the EU’s machinations tempered to a dull pain. But the energy to do harm keeps ramping up from the West. Between the EU, the US and all the Muslim states that have hijacked the UN, the general motto is, ‘Eat Israel first, digest it, and then we’ll talk about who’s next.’ At a point, the passivity that goes with riding out the storm, or, in Gaza style, mowing the lawn, can only take you so far. With, as you said n a prior article, everyone doing their anti-Semitic part to hamstring, confine and eventually dispossess Jews of their homeland, wilting against the onslaught so that one only fights at the last possible moment, is a certain loss and brings other images of unending pogroms and Warsaw Ghetto stalwartness in a losing cause, and concentration camp revolts yielding few survivors… to the fore.
This week a trove of photographs by a Frenchman from the late 1800s taken in the Holy Land showed an absolute dearth of Arabs and ‘Palestinians’, the made up people that wish to steal away Israel piece by piece. Those who will not believe Israelis, will not believe the pictures either. A lifetime of trying to defend your land and cultivate friendships should have inured such a tiny country to the charges and pummeling it is experiencing now. But Israel’s foes are committed. Europe waited a decent interval, embraced and appeased its newer Muslim immigrants, and then started up its old ways after the stink of the Holocaust had weakened. They will never be cured of their Jew-hatred. It is a thing apart, even if it only infects 1/3 to 1/2 the public there. The US is in the throes of an attempted transformation of its culture that has swamped our ability to act according to founding principles. We have as much to fear here, as an eventuality, as the Israelis do in the here and now. Obama is a completely un-American President, but the damage he can do is incredible.
It’s as simple as this: Like many universities in the West, the media and apparently a railroad car full of bought-off politicians (like the Clintons), and among the elites in Europe… the will to stand up to this onslaught will fall upon each individual rather than the self-appointed guardians. The guardians will be no help. The act of being strong against the wave of lies and the nouveau Brownshirts will be the responsibility of ordinary people. And as the fight commences, we will have to push aside those who have been making wrong decisions for us for so long. So long, that they wonder why we even bothered to protest. But protest we must.
Israel has been at war with Islamic jihad since well before its founding. It has been at war with its own enemy collaborators since before Moses went up the mountain. It has prepared itself to never be the victim of the very forces that have mustered for another go at its undoing. It, and the US, need to be on about the business of asserting ourselves. Once the enemy comes to fetch us from our haunts, it’s too late, and no satisfaction at all in the thought of survivors begging at the doors of sympathetic countries greedy for a trove of Jewish talent, to be allowed to continue their dependent existence with people they cannot trust.
Probably an overactive imagination on my part and too much media for one morning. My eczema starts up when I imagine these things!