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The UN's Absurd Stigmatization of Israel

What is it with the UN’s treatment of Israel? I am not referring simply to Joshua Muravchik’s superb essay in the current issue of this journal regarding the UN’s age-old antipathy toward the nation. I’m suggesting the UN’s single-minded attacks on Israel have of late intensified and grown even worse. Yes, it’s possible.

On November 14th, for example, the United Nations General Assembly adopted nine resolutions condemning Israel—and none condemning any other nation (pdf). Two of these denunciations of Israel are remarkable because they refer to the country’s maltreatment of Syria, specifically the occupation of the strategically important Golan territory that was taken by Israel in 1967—after it was attacked by regional powers that launched the Six-Day War. Since that time the territory has been the subject of repeated negotiations, the main stumbling block being, as Israeli President Shimon Peres pointed out in June 2009, that Syria maintains warm relations with Iran and Hezbollah, both of them committed to Israel’s extermination.

Of course we could argue forever about who should have the Golan Heights, although personally I’m of the opinion that if you want to keep your nation intact, you probably shouldn’t start a war with Israel. And if you want to improve your chances of reclamation, it makes sense to resist funneling weapons to terrorists. But the idea that the UN musters 159 votes to condemn Israel’s decision “to impose its laws, jurisdiction, and administration” on the area, and fails at the same time to mention that being a Syrian in the Golan is about a million times better than finding yourself, say, in a village outside Damascus, where just months ago 1,400 people were gassed to death by their own president—well, let’s just say the General Assembly is probably being a bit one-sided here.

In fact, on November 14th, that same group of impassioned countries passed other curious resolutions stuffed with suggestions on how to improve Israel. Among them: “The right of all persons displaced” as a result of the Six-Day War to return to that nation, a move that would effectively end Israel’s existence. Unmentioned in all of these resolutions upholding the rights of Palestinians, as Hillel Neuer of the Times of Israel writes, are any Palestinian attacks on Israeli citizens. Among them: the axe murder of a Jewish Israeli in the Jordan Valley, a deed that the two suspects captured called “a gift to the Palestinian people and Hamas prisoners, in honor of Eid-al-Adha,” the Muslim holiday.

Do I think Israel’s ceaseless establishment of settlements in violation of international law is a smart or ethical move? No I don’t. There’s a lot to criticize these days about the country. But nine anti-Israel UN resolutions in one day, many of them—let’s face it—specious, unworkable, and offensive? I think that’s worse. A lot worse.

On the same day the flood of resolutions was passed, an astonished UN interpreter, unaware that her mic was still on, chanced to remark: “I think when you have … like, a total of ten resolutions on Israel and Palestine … c’est un peu trop non? [It’s a bit much, right?] … There’s other really bad shit happening, but no one says anything about the other stuff.”

This soliloquy was interrupted by a certain amount of laughter from the delegates. Which should tell you a lot.

Then the interpreter, appalled at being overheard, apologized to the group.

I can’t imagine why.

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