January 4, 2018 — New York
This piece originally appeared in HuffPost.
The recent focus on the Jerusalem issue is a telling reminder that Israel is treated according to a totally different standard than other countries in the international system.
Of course, Israel deserves attention and scrutiny as does every other nation. But it also merits equal treatment — nothing more, nothing less.
First, Israel is the only state whose capital city, Jerusalem, with which the Jewish people have been umbilically linked for more than 3,000 years, is not recognized by almost all other countries.
Imagine the absurdity of this. Foreign diplomats live in Tel Aviv while conducting virtually all their business in Jerusalem, where the prime minister’s office, the Knesset (Parliament), the Supreme Court, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are located.
In fact, look at listings of world cities, including places of birth in passports, and you’ll see something striking — Paris, France; Tokyo, Japan; Pretoria, South Africa; Lima, Peru; and Jerusalem, sans country — orphaned, if you will.
Second, Israel is the only UN member state whose very right to exist is under constant challenge.
Notwithstanding the fact that Israel embodies an age-old connection with the Jewish people, as repeatedly cited in the most widely read book in the world, the Bible; that it was reborn based on the 1947 recommendation of the UN; and that it has been a member of the world body since 1949, there’s a relentless chorus denying Israel’s very political legitimacy.
No one would dare question the right to exist of many other countries whose basis for statehood is infinitely more questionable than Israel’s, such as those that were created by brute force, occupation, or distant mapmakers. Just look around at how many nations fit those categories—including, by the way, quite a few Arab countries. Why, then, is it open hunting season only on Israel? Could it possibly have anything to do with the fact that it’s the only Jewish-majority country in the world?
Third, Israel is the only UN member state that’s been targeted for annihilation by another UN member state.
Think about it. The leadership of Iran, together with Iran-funded proxies in Lebanon and Gaza, has repeatedly called for wiping Israel off the map. Is there any other country facing such a stated goal of genocidal destruction? Meanwhile, a majority of countries continues to conduct business as usual with Tehran, as if this threat to another nation was either welcome or somehow deemed irrelevant.
Fourth, the UN has two agencies dealing with refugees.
One, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), focuses on all the world’s refugee populations, save one. The other, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine (UNRWA), handles only the Palestinians.
But the difference goes beyond the anomaly of two structures and two bureaucracies. In fact, they have two strikingly different mandates.
UNHCR seeks to resettle refugees; UNRWA does not. When, in 1951, John Blanford, UNRWA’s then-director, proposed resettling up to 250,000 refugees in nearby Arab countries, those countries reacted with rage and refused, leading to his departure. The message got through. No UN official since has pushed for resettlement.
Moreover, the UNRWA and UNHCR definitions of a refugee differ markedly. Whereas the UNHCR services only those who’ve actually fled their homelands, the UNRWA definition covers “the descendants of persons who became refugees in 1948,” without any generational limitations.
Fifth, Israel is the only country that has won all its major wars for survival and self-defense, yet is confronted by defeated adversaries who have insisted on dictating the terms of peace.
In doing so, ironically, they’ve found support from many countries which, victorious in war themselves, demanded — and, yes, got — major border adjustments. A quick glance at, say, earlier maps of Europe and today’s amply illustrates the point.
Sixth, Israel is the only country in the world with a separate — and permanent — agenda item, #7, at the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council.
No other member state, including serial human-rights violators like North Korea, Syria, Iran, and Sudan, gets its own agenda item.
Only the sole liberal democracy in the Middle East is treated in this blatantly biased manner because that’s the way it works — the bad guys circle the wagons to protect one another, and, at the same time, gang up on Israel, creating an automatic majority against it.
Seventh, Israel is the only country condemned by name at the World Health Organization as a “violator” of health rights.
This canard is registered despite the fact that Israel provides world-class medical assistance to Syrians wounded in the country’s civil war and Palestinians living in Hamas-ruled Gaza; has achieved one of the world’s highest life expectancy rates for all its citizens, Jewish and non-Jewish alike; is among the very first medical responders to humanitarian crises wherever they may occur, from Haiti to Nepal; and is daily advancing the frontiers of medicine for everyone, something that can’t be said for too many other nations.
Eighth, Israel is the only country that’s the continuous target of three standing UN bodies established and staffed solely for the purpose of advancing the Palestinian cause and bashing Israel — the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People; the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People; and the Division for Palestinian Rights in the UN’s Department of Political Affairs.
Ninth, Israel is the only country annually targeted by at least 20 UN General Assembly resolutions and countless measures in other UN bodies, such as the Human Rights Council.
Indeed, astonishingly, every year, Israel is on the receiving end of more such efforts than the other 192 UN member states combined. No one can seriously argue that this is remotely warranted, but it’s a reality because in every UN body except the Security Council, where each of the five permanent members has a veto, it’s all about majority voting.
When close to two-thirds of the world’s nations today belong to the Non-Aligned Movement, and when they elected a country like Iran as its chair from 2013 to 2016, followed by Venezuela, the current leader, that just about says it all.
And tenth, Israel is the only state targeted by the BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions) movement.
Has anyone seen any significant campus activity that takes aim at true human rights offenders, including some in Israel’s neighborhood, who behead, forcibly convert, and expel Christians; drop chemically-laced barrel bombs on civilians; deny Palestinians full rights; persecute LGBT communities; and use capital punishment, even for minors, with abandon?
Has any student group tried to prevent undergraduates from traveling to any country other than Israel, as was the case with an earlier “pledge” circulated at UCLA?
Has anyone seen any flotillas or flytillas organized by European far-left groups that don’t involve an anti-Israel angle?
Has anyone seen movements for companies to pull out of any country other than Israel?
Turkey, to take one example, has brazenly and unjustifiably occupied one-third of the island nation of Cyprus for 44 years, deployed an estimated 40,000 Turkish troops there, and transferred countless settlers from Anatolia, yet there’s not a peep about Ankara from those who purport to act in the name of “justice” and against “occupation.”
Given political realities, tackling any of these instances of egregious double standards and blatant hypocrisy can be a daunting challenge. And, still worse, this list is not complete.
The old advertisement proclaimed that you don’t have to be Jewish to love Levy’s Jewish rye bread. Well, surely, you don’t have to be a pro-Israel activist to be troubled by the grotesquely unjust treatment of Israel. All it takes is a capacity for moral outrage that things like this are happening in today’s world.