Israeli schoolchildren hold the Israeli and American flags.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Critics of Israel often like to point to the policy disagreements that we have with the American administration from time to time as some sort of harbinger signaling the end of the special relationship between our two countries. Nothing could be further from the truth. This week US Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power, a senior member of President Barack Obama’s cabinet, is visiting Israel. This is yet another indication of the strength of the historic bond between the governments, and the people, of these two great democracies.
Our government will soon sign a new Memorandum of Understanding with the Obama administration. While the exact amount of American aid included in the understanding is not yet determined, we already know that it will be of historic proportions. With the current MOU actually expiring only in 2018, the fact that President Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are committed to signing the agreement now signals the close cooperation between our two administrations.
When you add this MOU to the military and intelligence collaborations over the past seven years, you understand the level of commitment of the American government to Israel’s security and wellbeing.
America’s support for Israel is much deeper than this or any past administration’s official bilateral relationship.
During my time in New York I have had the privilege to witness the American presidential elections up close. Like in our rambunctious democracy, there are plenty of areas of disagreement among the candidates. Nevertheless, there is one particular issue upon which everyone agrees – full-hearted support for Israel. The candidates from both parties all go out of their way to reiterate their support for and commitment to the Jewish state. This symbolizes just how deep the bond is between our two societies.
At the UN, the support that we receive from Ambassador Power and the American delegation plays a key role in our successes. It is often noted that if one were to bring a resolution to the UN proclaiming the earth to be flat and condemning Zionism it would pass with a vast majority. Nevertheless, our Mission has successfully furthered Israel’s national agenda in what can rightfully be described as one of the most hostile global forums toward the Jewish state.
The cooperation between Israel and America at the UN extends far beyond the realm of traditional diplomatic and security measures. Over the past six months this relationship has assisted us in making important inroads at numerous international bodies where we are contributing to the betterment of the world.
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Just last month, the UN Office of Space Affairs voted to include Israel in the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer. In January, ZAKA, the Israeli search-and-rescue organization, was granted official consultative status at the UN. Perhaps most impressively, last December an Israeli resolution on agricultural technology for sustainable development was adopted with 146 countries voting in favor at the General Assembly.
The Israeli Mission has also succeeded having Yom Kippur designated as one of the 11 official UN holidays when no official meetings will take place, and Jewish UN officials can thus observe the holiday. Additionally, we are now seeing a record number of Israelis integrated into official UN bodies and organizations, with our representatives serving on the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women and on the prestigious Human Rights Committee.
None of these undertakings would be possible without our American friends.
Ambassador Power and her team work publicly, and behind closed doors, with our diplomats to ensure that Israel is treated as fairly as possible at the UN.
The Americans do this not just as an extension of the broader special relationship between our two countries, but as a reflection the values that we share and the belief that the true potential of the UN can only be achieved if all nations – including Israel – are given the opportunity to do their part in positively impacting the world.
During Ambassador Power’s visit this week she is to meet with key leaders and observing firsthand the challenges and opportunities we often discuss at UN headquarters in New York.
This trip will also provide us with opportunity to review our cooperation and set new goals for our alliance.
Israel has so much more to contribute to the global community. Whether it is our brave policemen who we hope will soon join UN peacekeeping missions, or our medical innovations which played an important part in staving off the Ebola virus and can now help combat the outbreak of Zika, we possess knowhow and technology that we want to share with less fortunate nations for the betterment of humanity.
By advocating forcefully for the values that are important to us, and by continuing to work closely with our American colleagues, we can achieve so much together. I am hopeful that the day will come when these efforts will finally lead to a UN which lives up to the words of its founding charter and “reaffirm(s) faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small.”The author is Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations.
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