NEW YORK – Outgoing Ambassador to the UN Gabriella Shalev told American journalists on Monday that Israel is “the most isolated, lonely country in the world,” and that the biggest threat to its existence is not Iranian nuclear proliferation, but international attempts to delegitimize it.

Shalev told an Israel Project luncheon in Washington that threats to Israel’s right to defend itself constitute the “first challenge” of the Jewish state, according to The Washington Times.

Shalev cited Iran and tensions with the Palestinians as other significant problems, but particularly highlighted the international community’s actions toward Israel as being potentially detrimental to the country’s future.

She specifically cited European court prosecutions of Israeli officials for alleged human rights offenses and UN efforts to single out Israeli conduct for reprimand.

Shalev said that as sanctions resolutions at the UN put international pressure on Iran, Israel’s biggest threat is now those who question the Jewish state’s right to exist and defend itself, the Washington Times reported.

Israel Project president Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi told The Jerusalem Post she felt Shalev’s remarks had been on point.

“Iran has been the No. 1 issue in the pro-Israel community for many years, but right now there is something of a sigh of relief that the world has come to a deeper understanding that Iran is not just Israel’s threat, it is the world’s threat,” Mizrahi said, citing sanction developments in the US, UN and Europe.

“What [Shalev] was saying was that everyone at the UN in theory supports Israel’s right to defend itself, but when it’s actualized, they stop supporting it in many cases,” Mizrahi said, citing the May 31 Gaza flotilla incident as an example.

“I think [Shalev] is right.

I think that this is a major problem, and we’re deeply, deeply concerned about it.”

In terms of the United Nations, UN Watch director Hillel Neuer told the Post from Geneva that “Ambassador Shalev is exactly right. While the UN was founded on the highest ideals, many of its influential assemblies have turned into Ground Zero for ‘lawfare’ – the Arab-led assault on Israel using international law to weaken its legitimacy and international standing.”

Efforts to utilize international law as a blunt instrument against Israel, Neuer said, are particularly evident in the context of the Human Rights Council, a UN body based in Geneva.

“Out of some 40 resolutions adopted since 2006, more than 70 percent target Israel, while granting impunity to Hamas terror,” Neuer said of the Human Rights Council. “Victims of abuses worldwide are ignored. The [HRC] currently has multiple inquiries under way against democratic Israel, yet none on massacres committed by gross violators like China, Iran, Sudan, or Kyrgyzstan.

Eleanor Roosevelt and René Cassin, the proud Zionists who created the UN’s human rights system in response to the atrocities of World War II, are surely turning in their graves.”

Responding to these remarks, a spokesperson for the UN Secretary General’s office said on Tuesday that “Israel is a member in good standing of the United Nations, which has repeatedly stressed the rights of the Israeli people, as has Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Israel’s rights as a member state have been established repeatedly, including through General Assembly and Security Council resolutions.”

At a departing reception held for Shalev last week in New York by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Susan Rice, the US ambassador to the UN, praised her efforts at the world body. Rice told attendees that she would “continue US efforts to combat all international attempts to challenge the legitimacy of Israel – including and especially at the United Nations.”

Mizrahi pointed out that at Monday’s luncheon, Shalev’s remarks were not made in a despairing tone.

“She was very hopeful,” Mizrahi said. “She wasn’t demoralized. She’s fighting it.”

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