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On Tuesday, Israel's Ambassador to the United Nations Dan Gillerman lauded the passage of an Israeli-drafted resolution in a UN committee for the first time ever. "For Israel, this is a very dramatic development and a historic day at the UN. This makes Israel a much more normal and acceptable member of the UN. One of our main aims is to not be a one issue country and to bring awareness of Israel's excellence to the world," Gillerman gushed.
We hate to rain on this parade, but our own diplomats giving credence to claims that the UN is in any way treating Israel as "normal and acceptable" is like thanking a bully for slapping a new "kick me" sign on our backs.
Even this "dramatic moment" was polluted by the incessant Arab campaign to delegitimize Israel. The utterly unobjectionable resolution, which urged member states to assist with agricultural development in developing countries, passed by a vote of 118 to 0, but with 29 abstentions and an even larger number registered "absent." Most of the countries that could not bring themselves to vote for this banal resolution only because it was introduced by Israel were Arab or Muslim states, including many of those whose foreign ministers showed up in Annapolis, ostensibly to promote peace with Israel. Among these were Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan.
But the list of those not willing to stand with Israel even to promote development, largely in Africa, also included non-Muslim African states such as South Africa, Lesotho, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Many African states did support the resolution, but many others either abstained or were absent.
In short, while this "breakthrough" resolution could be cited to exemplify the isolation of the Arab bloc, it also dramatically demonstrates the refusal of this same bloc and the countries that blindly vote with it to remotely treat Israel as a nation like any other - namely a nation with the right to exist - let alone a peace-seeking democracy under terrorist attack.
That would be of limited concern if the anti-Israel bloc was consistently and overwhelming out-voted on substantive resolutions as well. But this, of course, is not the case. Worse, the Arab bloc is still able to use the UN system as its own cudgel in the campaign to delegitimize Israel.
As human rights and UN expert Anne Bayefsky points out, the anniversary of the UN's own historic vote for a two-state solution on November 29, 1947, the day celebrated every year by all Israelis, is a day of mourning and anti-Israel propagandizing at the UN.
"In 2005, with Kofi Annan at the helm, the [November 29] event sported a UN Middle East map without the State of Israel and included a moment of silence honoring the self-sacrifice of suicide bombers," she noted in a recent article in the National Review Online.
"In 2006 - after the scandal was widely publicized - the map did not appear and the moment of silence was canceled. Instead, the UN Trusteeship Council room was adorned with a series of panels rewriting the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict from the Arab point of view, describing seven or eight million Palestinians claiming a right of return - enough to destroy the Jewishness of the state of Israel - and lauding the success of the violent Palestinian uprising or intifada."
For this year's anniversary, which fell during the same week as the Annapolis conference, the UN decided to do what one official called "just keep it clean," which meant flying only the flags of "Palestine" and the UN, with no Israeli flag present, Bayefsky reported. "Clean" for the UN evidently remains a world without Israel, even on the anniversary of the UN's own partition vote and while the UN secretary-general attends a conference dedicated to the two-state solution.
In a Jerusalem Post op-ed this week, Richard Schifter, a former US ambassador to the UN Human Rights Commission, berated Israeli diplomats for confusing an improvement in their own ability to operate within UN committees with an improvement in Israel's diplomatic position.
"Do any benefits accrue to Israel from the fact that its diplomats now serve on UN committees?" Schifter asks. "Hardly. Much of the UN General Assembly's 'work' is make-believe. The only committees that perform work that has an impact on the real world are the Israel-bashing committees: the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People and the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Human Rights Practices." These committees, among others, are the "kick me" sign on our back, and mark Israel as a second-class state in the community of nations. Unless they are disbanded and other blatantly discriminatory treatment ended, it is impossible to speak of a serious improvement at the UN.
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