November 27, 2020 — Brussels, Belgium
This piece originally appeared in New Europe.
By Michael Sieveking
Next month the United Nations General Assembly will pass a litany of one-sided resolutions against Israel. Europe, for the most part, supported in committee a whopping eleven texts lambasting the Middle East’s lone democracy. Six more resolutions are headed straight to the world body’s plenary.
In comparison, the world’s worst human rights abusers will get away with a slap on the wrist: Only seven other country-specific resolutions will cover the likes of Iran, North Korea, and Syria.
The 17 texts targeting Israel include omissions of Palestinian terror and references to the Temple Mount only by its Islamic name, Haram al-Sharif, attempting to erase the millennia-old Jewish ties to Jerusalem. Don’t expect the UN to call on Hezbollah to disarm. Instead, look out for Israel to be censured for an oil slick on the Lebanese shore.
In this final stretch of Berlin’s EU presidency, it’s worth recalling the words of Foreign Minister Heiko Maas last year: “Germany stands, also in the UN, shoulder to shoulder with Israel.”
So far, there is little evidence to support this contention. Europe under Germany’s temporary stewardship hasn’t substantially changed its voting pattern. But why, in the first place, does the UN single out ad absurdum the Jewish state?
As the late Abba Eban, Israel’s former UN envoy, quipped: “If Algeria introduced a resolution to the General Assembly that the earth is flat and that Israel has flattened it, you could predict the vote. 123 in favor, 68 abstentions, and 23 opposed.” Eban’s words hold true to this day.
And yet, the UN’s obsession with Israel is no laughing matter. It does nothing to advance a negotiated two-state solution. Instead, it only rewards Palestinian intransigence.
The chorus of condemnations against Israel isn’t accidental, either. It’s baked into the UN system dominated by repressive regimes that weaponize institutions like the World Health Organization or the UN Human Rights Council. The latter’s bias against the Jewish state is as egregious as it gets.
Last June the Council condemned Israel five times. Actual human rights offenders like China were spared entirely. Epitomizing its antisemitic double-standard, the Geneva-based body even has its own segregated agenda item – number 7 – exclusively dedicated to demonizing Israel at every session. Meanwhile, without Council comment, China herds millions of Uyghur Muslims in concentration camps and Iran’s leaders take to Twitter to threaten a second Holocaust.
In 2006, the Council replaced the Human Rights Commission which was founded in the wake of World War II. Eleanor Roosevelt must be spinning in her grave at the thought of her noble creation having been reduced to a soapbox for dictators.
The Council’s imbalance was best articulated, if inadvertently, at the height of the Syrian civil war in 2013. After yet another slew of anti-Israel epithets, unaware that her microphone was on, a French interpreter gasped: “There’s other really bad sh*t happening, but no one says anything about the other stuff.” Officials guffawed at the indiscretion. But the joke was on them.
Or take the alphabet soup of specialized UN agencies targeting Israel, like “CEIRPP,” or, the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People. This mouthful is supposed to “mobilize international support” and serves today as a networking platform for supporters of the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.
CEIRPP was established on November 10, 1975, the same day the UN shamefully equated Zionism – the Jewish people’s liberation movement – with racism. Together with DRP, the Division for Palestinian Rights, CEIRPP receives €2.3 million annually.
With good reason, the EU has prioritized fighting misinformation. And yet, at the UN, where bald-faced lies and hair-raising omissions abound, Europe hasn’t mustered the courage to call them out. How else to explain most of the bloc in 2017 declaring “null and void” the irrefutable fact that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital? Adding insult to injury, the EU sees no conflict in locating its diplomatic mission to the Palestinian Authority in East Jerusalem.
To be fair, the EU is taking a tougher stance on Item 7. This must be followed by a concerted push to abolish it altogether. Earlier this month, EU members voted collectively against the renewal of three key Palestinian UN agencies. For this, as well, Europe deserves praise.
The UN Charter calls for equal treatment of all member states. There is no question that the organization has spectacularly failed to live up to this goal. Regardless of who occupies the White House, America will continue to have Israel’s back thanks to its tradition of bipartisan support for her closest ally.
With Europe, it’s a different story altogether. More often than not, EU countries unfortunately still give a thumbs up when the only Jewish state in the world is singled out. This final month of Germany’s EU presidency seems as good a time as any to turn a fresh page.