View From the Hills: UN, ‘Unwanted Nobodies’

Sure there is a bloody conflict here in the Middle East – but it’s not between Jerusalem and Ramallah, but to the north in Syria.

Ulpana outpost near Beit El 370 (R) (photo credit: REUTERS/Nir Elias)
Ulpana outpost near Beit El 370 (R)
(photo credit: REUTERS/Nir Elias)
Every Wednesday and Thursday morning is an adventure as I commute during morning rush hour from Gush Etzion to Beit-El in the Binyamin Region to host my talk-radio program.
The entire route – which begins on Highway 60 in the Gush, crosses through Jerusalem lengthwise passing the Old City on Highway 1, and then re-links to 60 via the Ramallah Bypass Road toward Beit-El – usually takes just over an hour. While traffic is at times at a standstill, especially in Jerusalem, the trip is always meaningful as the road literally follows the path of our Patriarchs, and with it thousands of years of Jewish history.
However, I’ve often noticed other motorists on the road over the years calmly navigating in their snow-white vehicles marked with blue insignia and the letters “UN,” who merge onto Highway 1 just past the Old City.
These travelers proceed to follow a nearly identical route, with the only difference being that they always turn off the road just before Beit- El and enter PA-controlled Ramallah via the “DCO Checkpoint” reserved for diplomats, dignitaries and other VIPs.
While I’ve never engaged in conversation with these people, it’s most likely that they are members of the Jerusalem-based United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO), established in 1948 and whose stated purpose according to their website is to serve as mediators of the truce between Israel and the Arabs and specifically to act “as gobetweens for the hostile parties and as the means by which isolated incidents could be contained and prevented from escalating into major conflicts.”
On paper it sounds like a noble cause. But upon further examination it seems that the only thing this group is doing is contributing to Israel’s carbon monoxide levels with all of their back-and-forth illusory “shuttle altruism.”
Sure there is a bloody conflict here in the Middle East – but these days it’s not between Jerusalem and Ramallah, but to the north in Syria.
According to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group, violence in Syria has claimed the lives of 33,082 people over the past 18 months. That can be broken down into 8,211 soldiers killed along with 1,241 army defectors who joined the insurgency against Syrian President Bashar Assad.
The monitoring group says the death toll by far has been highest among civilians, with an astonishing 23,630 dead. Those numbers do not include unidentified victims or people who have “gone missing,” presumed to have been either arrested by the regime, or perhaps killed.
So with all of that bloodshed, instead of turning in to Ramallah, why not continue north to the Golan and into Syria and try to do some real good by saving lives there? One could argue that the UN did try to strive for calm in Syria. In April, the UN Security Council passed a resolution calling for the establishment of an envoy known as UNSMIS to travel to Syria in order to “monitor a cessation of armed violence in all its forms by all parties and to monitor and support the full implementation of the Joint Special Envoy’s six-point plan to end the conflict in Syria.” After 90 days and an additional 30-day extension, with only rare lulls in the violence, UNSMIS was shut down for failing to meet its goals.
In addition, according to the most recent news reports, UN Arab League envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi has put together plans for the deployment of a 3,000-member peacekeeping force to try and end the conflict.
But so far that plan is all talk as Brahimi, who took over for former UN Chief Kofi Annan after Annan failed to make any progress, has spent weeks just figuring out which countries will be involved. All of this while at the Security Council itself, meaningful sanctions against the Syrian leadership have failed to pass with Russia and China blocking three attempts to pass harsh resolutions.
The situation remains bleak, but it seems that none of the UN-affiliated bodies in Israel or throughout the PA are willing or will be given a mandate to get involved.
But I would hate for anyone even for a second to believe the UN was here busy doing anything worthwhile to protect Israel. In fact, over the past few days, while Israelis in the southern part of the country have been once again forced to live in or near bomb shelters as rockets rain down from Gaza, not a single UN body has condemned the attacks.
Internet search results for “Israel” over the past 45 days on the UN News Center website do not turn up even one article focusing on or condemning the rocket attacks.
While there is silence over the rockets (and missiles), the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the “Occupied” Palestinian territory continues to offer a detailed weekly megilah, or scroll, listing alleged violence by Israeli soldiers, and of course “settlers,” against Arabs.
The report even includes a score-card of the number of Palestinians killed in a given week in Gaza and the West Bank. But details of their deaths – including cases where would-be terrorists are killed in IDF operations to prevent large-scale attacks, are conveniently omitted.
To be fair, in one recent weekly report, a line buried at the bottom does say that “Palestinian armed factions fired dozens of projectiles towards southern Israel,” but it mentions that fact (almost in passing) only after stating that they were fired “following [an Israeli] air strike,” as if launching rockets at Israeli civilians was a justified response to IDF pinpoint strikes for the purpose of self-defense.
So let’s call a spade a spade. Whether in the General Assembly, the Security Council, or more specifically in any of the UN-bodies based in this part of the world, it would seem fair, as written on a classic bumper sticker seen throughout this country, to state: “UN, Unwanted Nobodies, go home (or go to Syria).”The writer is a media analyst, freelance journalist, children’s author, and host of Reality Bytes Radio, on