Turtle Bay’s Knot of Knaves

Had last week’s United Nations General Assembly vote been about whether the United States, or any nation, has a right to recognize some newly established African or South American country, it would have been outrageous for 128 countries to object. A sovereign nation can choose to extend diplomatic recognition as it sees fit.

But, of course, the motion put before the international body last week concerned Israel — specifically, the Trump administration’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and to move our country’s embassy there from Tel Aviv. And so the resolution to denounce the U.S. for its choice passed with flying colors. The only objectors were the U.S., Israel and a handful of others (Guatemala, Honduras, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau and Togo.)

Israel, as any history book and many a vivid memory can readily attest, captured Jerusalem, along with other Jordanian, and Egyptian and Syrian, territories in the 1967 Six Day War, when the armies of those countries aimed to obliterate it and its Jewish residents.

Before and since then, numerous countries have conquered other countries’ land, even when the captors had not been threatened at all, much less with annihilation. Many if not most of the world’s nations, in fact, occupy land that had once been claimed by others.

Yet only Israel, who was attacked by Egypt, Syria, Transjordan and Iraq (aided by contingents from Yemen, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and Sudan) the day after she declared her independence in 1948 and, miraculously emerging victorious, was again targeted for destruction by her Arab neighbors in 1967, is considered an illegal “occupier” of territory it won in a war — of survival.

On May 11, 1949, the United Nations , by a majority vote, granted it admission to the world body. That once-august union of sovereign states, unfortunately, has long since devolved into, largely, a knot of knaves.

Back in 1975, after the famous U.N. “Zionism is racism” resolution, Rabbi Moshe Sherer, z”l, wrote: “Though the resolution was supposedly aimed only at secular ‘Zionism’…the slander is an attack on the entire Jewish people.”

“While we may have our own quarrel with secular Zionism,” he continued, “when Jews are libeled, their affiliation does not matter; our love for our brothers and sisters draws us to their side.” And, what is more, Rabbi Sherer observed most pointedly, “the U.N. resolution is aimed at all Jews, for it assails the historical Jewish right to Eretz Yisrael. The Torah bestowed that right and any attack on it is an attack on Judaism and the Jewish people.”

Behind the United Nations’ austere façade, he went on, “lies a veritable jungle, crawling with well-dressed, diplomatically correct savages.”

It took the U.N. 16 years to come to recognize the wrongness of that baldly anti-Israel resolution and repeal it. Even then, though, 25 nations voted against the repeal, 13 abstained and 17 others opted not to vote at all.

The 1975 slander may have been mothballed, but the sentiment that informed it is alive and well, and festers in the same chamber where it was born.

Last year, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Executive Board adopted a resolution on “Occupied Palestine” which was harshly critical of Israel and which only used the Muslim name for the Har HaBayis, pointedly deriding the Jewish connection to the place where the Batei Mikdash stood. (Both the U.S. and Israel have withdrawn from UNESCO.)

The U.N. Human Rights Council’s permanent agenda includes an item titled: “Human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories: Human rights violations and implications of the Israeli occupation of Palestine and other occupied Arab territories and the Right to self-determination of the Palestinian people.” Neither Iran nor Sudan, notorious for their human rights abuses, are on the HRC’s permanent agenda, only Israel.

Iran and Sudan, of course, were among the 128 nations who voted against the U.S. last week, as was Syria, where half a million people have perished as the result of the government putdown of a rebellion, and whose brutal president, Bashar al-Assad, used chemical weapons against his own citizens including children.

Yemen, one of the resolution’s sponsors, is embroiled in its own civil war, complete with atrocities and murder of civilians. And North Korea and Myanmar and Turkey and China.

And they and other similarly heinous states highmindedly lecture the United States about peace and respect and human rights.

Purim seems to have arrived early this year.