The UN, Israel, & Anti-Semitism

(Reprinted with permission of UN Watch)


United Nations: Table of Contents | Human Right Council | Security Council


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Demonization of Israel: "Zionism is Racism"

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.

Beginning in the late 1960's, the full weight of the UN was gradually but deliberately turned against the country it had conceived by General Assembly resolution a mere two decades earlier. The campaign to demonize and delegitimize Israel in every UN and international forum was initiated by the Arab states together with the Soviet Union, and supported by what has become known as an "automatic majority" of Third World member states.

The campaign reached new strength in wake of the Arab oil embargo of 1973, when many African states were pressured into severing relations with Israel. In 1975, following a steady drumbeat of anti-Israel declarations pushed through the International Women's Year Conference in Mexico and then the Organization of African Unity, the majority of the General Assembly adopted the "Zionism is Racism" resolution. At the same time, it instituted a series of related measures that together installed an infrastructure of anti-Israel propaganda throughout the UN. Years later, after strenuous efforts by democratic forces, the infamous resolution was repealed.

Legacy of 1975: Anti-Israel Infrastructure Remains

However, the legacy of 1975 remains fully intact: UN committees, annual UN resolutions, an entire UN bureaucratic division, permanent UN exhibits in New York and Geneva headquarters -- all dedicated to a relentless and virulent propaganda war against the Jewish state. Together, they have made the UN into Ground Zero for today's new anti-Semitism, which is the irrational scapegoating of Israel with the true intended target being Jews. Not only do these anti-Israel measures incite hatred against Israelis and Jews everywhere, but they have done not a thing to help the Palestinian situation. On the contrary: they give strength and succor to extremists.

Paradoxically, one of the greatest violators of the UN Charter's equality guarantee has been the UN body charged with establishing and enforcing international human rights, the Human Rights Council.

Anti-Israel Bias in the UN System

The UN's discrimination against Israel is not a minor infraction, nor a parochial nuisance of interest solely to those concerned with equal rights of the Jewish people and the Jewish state. Instead, the world body's obsession with censuring Israel at every turn directly affects all citizens of the world, for it constitutes (a) a severe violation of the equality principles guaranteed by the UN Charter and underlying the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and (b) a significant obstacle to the UN's ability to carry out its proper mandate.

None of this means Israel should be above the law. Every country, including every democracy, commits human rights violations, and states should be held to account accordingly, both domestically and internationally. Yet Israel does have the right to be treated equally under the law. The UN Charter and the rules of natural justice demand no less. It is legitimate for UN bodies to criticize Israel, but not when they do do so unfairly, selectively, massively, sometimes exclusively, and always obsessively.

Likewise, it is perfectly legitimate to call attention to the rights of the Palestinian people and their often difficult conditions. But it is something else entirely to abuse their cause for the sole objective of scapegoating Israel and the Jewish people.

General Assembly Ignored Sudan, But Condemned Israel 22 Times

The countless anti-Israel resolutions and related debates consume an astonishing proportion of the UN community's precious resources. This year, during the 61th Session of the General Assembly (2006-2007), the time spent by ambassadors on enacting the 22nd anti-Israel resolution of the year was time not spent on passing a single resolution on Sudan's genocide in Darfur. Diplomats at foreign ministries or UN missions have a limited amount of time to devote to any particular UN session. Because every proposed UN resolution is subjected to intensive review by various levels and branches of government, a direct result of the anti-Israel texts is a crippling of the UN's ability to tackle the world's ills.

UN bias against Israel is overt in bodies such as the General Assembly, which each year passes some nineteen resolutions against Israel and none against most other member states, including the world's most repressive regimes. The World Health Organization, meeting at its annual assembly in Geneva in 2005, passed but one resolution against a specific country: Israel was charged with violating Palestinian rights to health. Similarly, the International Labour Organization, at its annual 2005 conference in Geneva, carried only one major country-specific report on its annual agenda -- a lengthy document charging Israel with violating the rights of Palestinian workers.

In the summer of 2004, the UN's International Court of Justice at The Hague issued an advisory opinion that followed the script of a political campaign orchestrated by the PLO representative at the UN, Nasser al-Kidwa. The busiest corridor of the Palais des Nations, the European headquarters of the UN in Geneva, displays no less than ten larger-than-life panels devoted to the Palestinian cause. The clear message, that the Palestinians are the world's greatest human rights victim; the clear implication, that Israel is the world's greatest human rights abuser.

There are three special UN entities dedicated to the Palestinian cause. The oldest is the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories, created in 1968. In 1975, the General Assembly added the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People. Supporting its work is the Division for Palestinian Rights. Lodged within the UN Secretariat, the Division boasts a sixteen-member staff and a budget of millions, which it devotes to the constant promotion of anti-Israel propaganda throughout the world.

Although Secretary-General Kofi Annan has made important pronouncements against anti-Semitism, and even -- before a Jerusalem audience -- against some aspects of the UN's anti-Israel bias, his regular statements on the Arab-Israeli conflict are disproportionately critical of Israel. Senior aide Lakhdar Brahimi publicly described Israel as a country whose policy constitutes "the great poison in the region."

Time to Take Action to End Bias and Injustice at the UN

The anti-Israel apparatus within the UN, therefore, is of considerable magnitude, and cripples the functioning of the organization. The overt bias practiced against one state undermines the UN's credibility and integrity. Anyone who truly cares about the UN must take action to end this gross injustice and criminal distraction from world pandemics such as disease and poverty. Given the current period of UN reform, now is the time. Many more UN officials, member states, NGOs, and others need to speak out and actively oppose this longstanding inequality.


Source: United Nations Watch (UN Watch)

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