My Word: Obama and the UN’s end-of-year sale

My educated guess is that the Security Council resolution is more likely to mark the beginning of the end of the UN than the downfall of Israel.

December 29, 2016 20:47
US Secretary of State John Kerry

US Secretary of State John Kerry . (photo credit: REUTERS)

As international war criminals go, I am borderline and well-educated. Under United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334, which passed on December 23, I am at the very least in “flagrant violation of international law” having studied for both my BA and MA at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Mount Scopus campus. I also gave birth at Hadassah- University Medical Center on Mount Scopus, proudly passing my criminal tendencies on to the next generation.

The resolution passed in a 14-0 vote by dint of the US abstention.

America in effect gave the other countries the go-ahead, free from the threat of a veto.

I caught up with the drama on Saturday night when I switched on the radio news after a 25-hour break from current affairs over Shabbat, a break sacred to me in every sense.

It’s not that I went to sleep Friday night thinking that all was well with the world. Israel shares a northern border with Syria and is well aware of the growing Islamic State presence in Sinai to its south. There are ongoing Palestinian terrorist attacks, and antisemitism globally is on the rise. The Security Council resolution won’t help. On the contrary.

The applause with which its passage was met in the Security Council chamber was more shocking than the nonbinding declaration itself.

It makes a peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian problem more distant than ever. Combined with US Secretary of State John Kerry’s speech on December 28, his condemnation of Palestinian violence notwithstanding, the latest move gives no incentive to the Palestinians to negotiate in good faith, and further harms Israel’s rights and standing.

Coming as it did just before President Barack Obama leaves the White House, there is a personal element. Not only has Obama hindered President-elect Donald Trump’s presumed future policies regarding the Middle East, he has taken his open revenge on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for daring to stand up to him over the Iran nuclear deal.

Having stabbed Netanyahu in the back, Obama then pushed him up against the proverbial wall, digging the knife in deeper. With less than a month until he’s out of office, Kerry’s speech trying to establish guidelines for a future peace agreement was way too much, way too late. Given that his efforts in 2014 led to war between Israel and Gaza, his latest words were a nasty and dangerous parting shot.

Among the most problematic elements of the resolution is its implied recognition of Palestinian rights to all parts of Jerusalem from the 1949 armistice line. This would give the Palestinians control of the Jewish Quarter of the Old City, the Western Wall and the Temple Mount, among other places, including access to Mount Scopus.

My alma mater was inaugurated in 1918, and the hospital’s cornerstone was laid in 1934. Technically, Mount Scopus remained a Jewish enclave during the War of Independence, but the 1948 ambush on a convoy of doctors, nurses and other personnel in which almost 80 people were massacred led to its abandonment. The university and hospital were rebuilt with the Jewish return to the area following the 1967 war. Similarly, the communities of the Etzion area suffered from deadly Arab riots that targeted Jews in 1929 and 1933 – long before the state was born. In 1948, the four kibbutzim fell; the Jews who surrendered were massacred. The communities were resurrected after 1967.

Israelis may argue over what led to the latest diplomatic assault on Israel and how to handle it, but there is a broad consensus that such blocs of Jewish communities and neighborhoods will remain under Israeli control even following some kind of peace agreement.

There’s also agreement that, at present, peace with the Palestinians is not feasible; Mahmoud Abbas, the 81-year-old Fatah leader, can’t reach a peace accord with the Hamas leaders who control Gaza.

He’s unable even to peacefully facilitate the elections of his own successor as head of the party.

Between Gaza and the West Bank, we’re already seeing a three-state solution, despite Kerry’s hopes and illusions.

The resolution and Kerry’s speech were examples of hypocrisy and the world’s obsession with “saving Israel from itself.”

As many, including Netanyahu, have noted, if the Palestinians demand that their future state be free of any Jewish presence, there is not going to be peace. If the world powers think that the stipulation that some 500,000 Jews be removed from their homes is reasonable, there is no hope for the Middle East or anywhere else.

Perhaps we could do a status swap instead of a land swap: Instead of the Palestinians maintaining their unique UN-granted status as “permanent refugees,” the Jews of Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem could have their schools and hospitals forever funded by the world body? Just kidding. We don’t do the permanent refugee thing: We thrived on the absorption of the 850,000 Jews who fled Arab countries.

Maybe instead of insisting Israel absorb the Palestinians, Jordan (which has a Palestinian majority) should be part of the solution. Yes, I’m serious.

The UN Committee on the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinians turns the Jews into the aliens.

In May, it met in Dakar, the capital of Senegal, one of the countries that last week sponsored Resolution 2334 after the Egyptians backed down.

“What have we ever done to Senegal?” a friend asked. We’ve done a lot – to help. A follower of the Facebook page of Paul Hirschson, our ambassador there, I have watched as Israeli know-how and aid have contributed in the fields of health, education, agriculture and more.

The recall of the ambassadors to Senegal and New Zealand, another of the resolution’s sponsors, and cutting off aid to Senegal and Angola has been called petty and vindictive, but it sends a message to future Security Council member states like Ethiopia: You can’t have it both ways.

New Zealand’s obsession with Israel verges on the bizarre. If Israel were surrounded by sea, were not a mere nine miles wide, and our nearest neighbors were Australian, we too would live in peace and security.

(Kiwis anxious to right their own record regarding the Maoris should note that actually Jews are indigenous to Israel.) Perhaps, like Obama and Kerry, New Zealand was desperate to leave a legacy before its two-year term on the UN Security Council ends on December 31 – not that Obama need worry about being forgotten; the mark he made on the Middle East is inescapable.

There are battle scars everywhere.

While many Israelis are now looking forward to Trump taking over from Obama, I believe it is up to Israel to determine its own policy and redlines. That’s an integral part of sovereignty. The government must make it absolutely clear that cities like Ariel and Ma’aleh Adumim, the communities in Gush Etzion, the Jordan Valley and the Jewish neighborhoods of Jerusalem, let alone holy sites, will remain in Israeli hands. The Dead Sea resorts that Kerry raised in his speech are not his to give away.

We shouldn’t be relying on Trump or any other foreign leader to determine our own future.

My educated guess is that the Security Council resolution is more likely to mark the beginning of the end of the UN than the downfall of Israel.

But then you know where I got my education.

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