Last week, the U.N.’s premier cultural agency, UNESCO, approved a resolution viciously condemning Israel (referred to as “the Occupying Power”) for various alleged trespasses and violations of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Except that the resolution never uses that term for Judaism’s holiest shrine. It refers to and treats it as an exclusively Muslim site, a deliberate attempt to eradicate its connection — let alone its centrality — to the Jewish people and Jewish history.
This Orwellian absurdity is an insult not just to Judaism but to Christianity. … If this is nothing but a Muslim site, what happens to the very foundation of Christianity, which occurred 600 years before Islam even came into being?
This UNESCO resolution is merely the surreal extreme of the worldwide campaign to delegitimize Israel. It features the BDS movement (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions), now growing on Western university campuses and some mainline Protestant churches. And it extends even into some precincts of the Democratic Party.
Bernie Sanders tried to introduce into the Democratic Party platform a plank more unfavorable to Israel. He failed, but when a couple of Clinton campaign consultants questioned (in emails revealed by WikiLeaks) why she should be mentioning Israel in her speeches, campaign manager Robby Mook concurred, “We shouldn’t have Israel at public events. Especially dem activists,” for whom the very mention of Israel is toxic.
And what to make of the White House’s correction to a press release about last month’s funeral of Shimon Peres? The original release identified the location as “Mount Herzl, Jerusalem, Israel.” The correction crossed out the country identifier — “Israel.”
Well, where else is Jerusalem? Sri Lanka? Moreover, Mount Herzl isn’t even in disputed East Jerusalem. It’s in West Jerusalem, within the boundaries of pre-1967 Israel. If that’s not Israel, what is?
But such cowardly gestures are mere pinpricks compared to the damage Israel faces in the final days of the Obama presidency. As John Hannah of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies recently wrote (in Foreign Policy), there have been indications for months that President Obama might go to the U.N. and unveil his own final status parameters of a two-state solution. These would then be enshrined in a new Security Council resolution that could officially recognize a Palestinian state on the territory Israel came into possession of during the 1967 Six-Day War.
There is a reason such a move has been resisted by eight previous U.S. administrations: It overthrows the central premise of Middle East peacemaking — land for peace. Under which the Palestinians get their state after negotiations in which the parties agree on recognized boundaries, exchange mutual recognition and declare a permanent end to the conflict.
Land for peace would be replaced by land for nothing. Endorsing in advance a Palestinian state and what would essentially be a full Israeli withdrawal removes the Palestinian incentive to negotiate and strips Israel of territorial bargaining chips of the kind it used, for example, to achieve peace with Egypt.
The result would be not just perpetual war but incalculable damage to Israel. Consider but one example: the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem, destroyed and ethnically cleansed of Jews by its Arab conquerors in the war of 1948–1949. It was rebuilt by Israel after 1967. It would now be open to the absurd judicial charge that the Jewish state’s possession of the Jewish Quarter constitutes a criminal occupation of another country.
Israel would be hauled endlessly into courts (both national and international) to face sanctions, boycotts (now under color of law) and arrest of its leaders. All this for violating a U.N. mandate to which no Israeli government, left or right, could possibly accede.
Before the election, Obama dare not attempt this final legacy item, to go along with the Iran deal and the Castro conciliation, for fear of damaging Hillary Clinton. His last opportunity comes after Election Day. The one person who might deter him, points out Hannah, is Clinton herself, by committing Obama to do nothing before he leaves office that would tie her hands should she become president.
Clinton’s supporters who care about Israel and about peace need to urge her to do that now. It will soon be too late. Soon Obama will be free to deliver a devastating parting shot to Israel and to the prime minister he detests.
(c) 2016, The Washington Post Writers Group