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The Warped Mirror

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Affirmative action at the UN


There is plenty of evidence supporting the claim on the website of Israel’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations (UN) that “Israel’s condemnatory treatment in the halls of the United Nations is virtually assured.” But if a recent Ha’aretz report is to be believed, many UN diplomats are actually “often sympathetic to Israel” – though there is an important caveat: “only behind the scenes.”

According to Amir Weissbrod, a senior Israeli diplomat at the UN, the discrepancy between the “behind-the-scenes”-understanding for Israel’s positions and the usual anti-Israel stances adopted publicly is due to “the international perception of Israel as the stronger side in the conflict.” Weissbrod claims that privately, several UN ambassadors have told him “that they feel ‘uncomfortable’ with making demands of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and that because Israel is stronger, it must ‘be nice toward the weak’.”

Diplomats may like to put it this way, but somehow I can’t quite shake off the suspicion that they know very well that their real demand is not that Israel should “be nice toward the weak,” but that Israel should be nice because it is ultimately “weak” – a tiny state in a hostile neighborhood where there is much enthusiasm for the vicious vision of a world without Israel.

When it comes to the UN, it’s quite obvious that the supposedly “strong” Israel usually looses, while the supposedly “weak” Palestinians win pretty much every time. After all, the “weak” Palestinians can always rely on the support of the Arab League and the wider Muslim world. To be sure, it’s a kind of support that is hardly ever used for constructive purposes; instead, this support is usually mobilized to promote causes that are hoped to damage Israel, such as efforts to delegitimize Israel’s right to defend itself, and therefore, its right to exist. One example was the Goldstone Report that slammed Israel for its conduct during Operation Cast Lead, which was designed to defend the hundreds of thousands of Israeli citizens exposed to relentless rocket barrages from Gaza. As the Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) boasted, his organization was “the initiator of this [Goldstone] process.”

Now the “weak” Palestinians and their supporters are trying to cement what they may well regard as the Goldstone “legacy”, namely the principle that, when faced with terror attacks, Israel should be cowed into passively absorbing the attacks for fear of incurring once again international opprobrium if it exercises its right to self-defense.

It is apparently already a well-established principle that whenever Israel dares to defend itself, states that get involved in the hostilities against the Jewish state either actively or through negligence can demand an apology if any of their citizen are among the casualties of Israel’s military actions. That’s why there is currently a debate about demands that Israel should apologize to Turkey for the Mavi Marmara incident, and that’s why Egypt demanded (and got) an immediate apology from Israel when some of its soldiers were killed in the wake of last week’s terrorist attacks near Eilat – even though it seems unclear whether the Egyptians were really killed by Israeli forces. 

Another victory for the “weak” was won when Lebanon insisted that a UN Security Council resolution condemning last week’s terror attacks could only pass if it also included criticism of Israel’s retaliatory air strikes on Gaza.

Israel’s UN ambassador noted in response that it was “no coincidence that Lebanon [...] is itself dominated by a terrorist organization.” Leaving aside the question if Lebanon had acted differently without Hezbollah’s influence, it is worthwhile to take note of Hezbollah’s explicit praise for “the heroic operation carried out by fighters in the Palestinian region of Om Rashrash (Eilat), which resulted in scores of casualties among the Zionist enemy soldiers and settlers.” The Hezbollah statement also emphasized that “the Arab and Islamic will […] considers the whole of Palestine – from sea to river – as a sacred land which belongs to its real owners, and none of its parts can be relinquished to the usurped Zionist enemy.”

Ultimately, it is this kind of view that prevailed in the UN Security Council when Lebanon blocked the condemnation of the attacks against Israel.

But this is not the end of the story. According to news reports, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was quick to call “for an emergency session of the United Nations Security Council in an effort to halt Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip,” and while he vociferously opposed Israel’s response to the terror attacks – that, after all, ultimately emanated from a territory he claims as part of the “state” of Palestine that the UN is supposed to recognize in a few weeks – he obviously didn’t feel the need to condemn the attacks. Instead, Palestinian officials came out with inane accusations against Israel, claiming it was “preparing for war to distract attention from the Palestinian Authority’s plan for September.”

Needless to say, the Arab League happily joined the chorus of hypocrisy and lost no time to condemn “the Israeli offensive on Gaza ... and Egyptian land.”
For civilized states, it should have been obvious that Egypt’s failure to prevent the terrorists from using Egyptian territory to stage the attack entitled Israel to an apology, but this idea was apparently not mooted in the Arab League, and unsurprisingly, the Arab media provided a number of editorials and articles that justified the terrorist attacks.

But for some Egyptians demonstrating in front of the Israeli embassy in Cairo, this was still not quite enough: one of the signs featured a swastika and announced “The Gas Chambers Are Ready.”

The hypocrisy of it all becomes even more glaring when you consider the fact that in recent days, Turkey has responded to attacks by Kurdish militants by targeting Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq. Brushing aside Iraqi protests and complaints about the plight of innocent villagers forced to flee Turkish air strikes, a statement released by Turkey’s General Staff simply declared: “Activities in the fight against terrorism will continue decisively at home and abroad.” A subsequent Turkish announcement stated dryly that some 100 terrorists had been “rendered ineffective.”

Apparently, neither the UN, nor the Arab League, nor the Arab street has any problem with that.

The fact of the matter is that there is a veritable “infrastructure of anti-Israel propaganda throughout the UN” that dates back to the 1970s and the passage of the infamous UN resolution that equated Zionism with racism. While the resolution was eventually repealed, this infrastructure remains in place – and in heavy use. As a related report by UN Watch puts it: “An alien observing the United Nations’ debates, reading its resolutions, and walking its halls could well conclude that a principal purpose of the world body is to censure a tiny country called Israel.”

It would be completely wrong to dismiss this as inconsequential in view of Israel’s military and economic strength. Despite Israel’s formidable achievements, the Jewish state remains only a tiny country in a hostile neighborhood that is currently destabilized by popular unrest that will almost certainly result in social, political and economic developments that will allow the forces that oppose Israel’s right to exist to play a prominent role.

The depth and prevalence of Arab and Muslim hatred for the Jewish state is of course a subject that has long been ignored or downplayed by Western mainstream media. (An excellent analysis of some current examples is provided by the media monitor Just Journalism, see “BBC extenuates culture of hostility towards Israel in Egyptand the report on the lack of coverage for the results of a recent Israel Project poll).

But when the burning desire to do away with the Jewish state is ignored, the demand that Israel as the supposedly “strong” side needs to be nice towards its oh-so-pitifully “weak” enemies really amounts to some sort of affirmative action for unbridled Jew-hatred.  



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