US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley visits the Western Wall in Jerusalem. .
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
There are few who have stood up as boldly for Israel and the Jewish people as departing US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley has, in a forum that has been historically hostile to both.
The loss of Haley in the UN at the end of this year will be felt deeply in Israel, as was made clear by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s tribute to her, released almost immediately after her resignation was confirmed. Netanyahu thanked Haley for her “uncompromising struggle against hypocrisy at the UN, and on behalf of the truth and justice of our country.”
It’s true that US President Donald Trump and his administration are pro-Israel at a level that often seems unprecedented, and Haley’s replacement, whoever she or he may be, will likely continue to coordinate closely with Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon, as Haley did.
But Haley will still be a difficult act to follow, with her moral clarity combined with a tough-as-nails attitude, which gained her admirers on the Right and Left.
In a speech to AIPAC in 2017, shortly after she became ambassador, Haley called herself the “new sheriff in town,” and promptly proceeded to shake things up. She was unwavering in word and in deed, in her support for Israel and her efforts to block any condemnations of the Jewish state.
“I will not shut up,” Haley famously said when Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat told her to stop criticizing the Palestinian Authority. “I will respectfully speak some hard truths.”
One of those truths? The Western Wall belongs to Israel.
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Haley said so during a Christian Broadcasting Network interview, and a month later, she visited the Western Wall during her tenure as ambassador, asking worshipers to show her how to pray at the holy site.
Later that year, the US recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, a decision that she fought to defend in the UN, vetoing a resolution condemning it in the Security Council, and bringing together 64 countries to vote against it in a General Assembly. Then, she threw a party for the “friends who are with [the US and Israel] during challenging times.”
Another hard truth is that the UN is obsessed with Israel beyond all proportion. Or as Haley said to the Security Council, they “sit here, month after month, and use the most democratic country in the Middle East as a scapegoat for the region’s problems... Here we go again.”
When she successfully lobbied UN Secretary-General António Guterres to remove a report accusing Israel of apartheid from the UN website, she said of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia: “That such anti-Israel propaganda would come from a body whose membership nearly universally does not recognize Israel is unsurprising.”
Haley knew this to be true of the UN Human Rights Council, as well, and tried to remove its permanent agenda item that has Israel condemned regularly by human rights violators like Iran and China. After a year and a half, the US left the council, which she said is “not worthy of its name,” rather than legitimize it with America’s presence, as the previous administration had for eight years.
Yet, another truth is that the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, twisted and inflated their numbers. Haley was instrumental in the American decision to stop funding UNRWA, and called for it to slash its refugee count.
“If they actually change the number of refugees to an accurate account, we will look back at partnering them,” she said in August.
Haley introduced a Security Council statement putting Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on notice for making an antisemitic, Holocaust-denying hate speech earlier this year.
Antisemitism, Haley wrote, “has historically contributed to threats to international peace and security, mass atrocities and widespread violations of human rights.”
Nikki Haley is joining the pantheon of staunch defenders of Israel at the UN Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Jeane Kirkpatrick. She has been an unwavering, stalwart ally of Israel, and for that we thank her. Haley will be missed at the UN, and we look forward to and hope for her return to public service.
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