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Gregory Levey explains Why Israel secretly loves the United Nations or why he thinks Israel secretly loves the United Nations in the New Republic. Levey's thesis is basically this:


If the United Nations berated Israel in a less cartoonish way, it would be hard for the United States and the Europeans to countenance Israel essentially ignoring the organization when it comes to the safety of its own citizens. In an Israeli calculus, then, the U.N.'s bias gives Israel elbow room--from those that actually matter in the Israeli mindset (the United States and, to a much lesser extent, the European Union)--to handle its own security as it sees fit.



Indeed Israeli governments have been generally able to afford the attitude of "oom shmoom" (UN is BS in free translation) for many years, protected largely by US vetos in the Security Council. However, the idea that the UN has no effect whatever on Israel is false, and continuing to ignore the real problems in the UN in the future is reckless.



UN anti-Israel resolutions and their activities under the so-called The Question of Palestine produce direct damage, indirect damage and collateral damage.

Direct damage are resolutions that are unfair to Israel because they condemn Israel unilaterally and actions such as the International Court of Justice ruling on the Security Fence and countless resolutions condemning Israeli actions in Jerusalem. The egregious examples are resolutions of the General Assembly such as the "Zionism is Racism" resolution which was essentially an international lynch of Israel, and which delegitimized Zionism throughout the world. The resolution was repealed, but the effect is to some extent not reversible. We can also count on UN Cease Fire resolutions that will generally stop the fighting in any Middle East war only when Israel is clearly winning or gaining some advantage. If the Hezbullah had conquered half the Galilee, there would have been no UN Resolution 1701 to stop the fighting in Lebanon. As long as Israel was losing the Yom Kippur war, there was no resolution to stop that war. There was no resolution condemning Arab aggression in 1967 or 1973 or in 2006. The UN is not really trying to get back the Israeli hostages held by Hezbollah. UN action or inaction costs Israeli lives.

Indirect Damage is caused by biased interpretation of resolutions, and biased implementation. This is egregiously evident in the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which was supposed to neutralize the Hezbollah, and is instead being used essentially to protect the Hezbollah and give them a screen for building up Hezbollah forces to attack Israel. UN resolutions on internationalization of Jerusalem were remembered by the Security council only when Israel violated them. For 19 years the Jordanian government illegally occupied the old city of Jerusalem, transferred population there in violation of international law, and prevented Jews from worshipping at their holy places, in violation of the armistice agreements. The UN did absolutely nothing. UN General Assembly Resolution 194 has been reinterperted by Arab states to mean that Palestinian refugees have a right to return to Israel, even though the resolution refers to all refugees (including Jewish refugees) and does not mention a "right" to return. This interpretation is now accepted by much of the world and many organizations including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, even though in this case "right of return" contradicts international law. UN General Assembly Resolution 242 is now interpreted by Arabs and Europeans as requiring Israeli withdrawal from ALL territories conquered in the 6 day war, even though this interpretation was specifically excluded by the framers of the resolution. The excuse is that the French version is worded differently, but in fact the French version does not refer to withdrawal from "all territories" either.

Collateral Damage is caused by UN sponsored NGO conferences like the infamous Durban conference, that are festivals of hate and anti-Semitism, and legitimize racism under the seal of the United Nations. Israelis forget that while the UN is scorned in Israel, it is taken quite seriously in many parts of the world.

In the future, the anti-Israel activities of the UN will assume greater importance. The power and influence of China, India, Russia and other countries and their satellites will grow. Pressure is growing to change the composition and constitution of the Security Council, which may remove or weaken the US veto. Israel would also be unwise to count on US support forever, or to assume that US and Israeli interests always coincide. They do not.

Contrary to Levey's thesis, the anti-Israel campaign is not limited to the Arab Lobby. It can exist only with the tacit support of European nations and the US, which do not bother to press for fairness to Israel at the UN because it is "not important." It is "not important" to the US because the Israeli government and Israel advocates gave up on the UN and decided the UN is not important. But the UN is important. Therefore, Latin American and other countries pressured by the Arab Lobby feel no counter pressure not to vote for special mistreatment of Israel in the UN Human Rights Commission and elsewhere. If it makes the Arabs happy and nobody cares, why shouldn't they join Libya and Syria in condemning Israeli "human rights" violations?

We can't give up on the UN or ignore it. Campaigns to try to eliminate the UN are likewise ill-advised. They will not eliminate the UN. Like it or not, in the eyes of most of the world, the UN is a force for good, and trying to eliminate it is like campaigning against mom's apple pie. It puts the campaigners on the wrong side of good and evil.

The complete text of Levey's article in TNR is below (at http://www.zionism-israel.com/log/archives/00000249.html ).

Ami Isseroff

Please sign the petition for Fair Play for Israel at the UN.

More about the UN and Israel:
The Question of Palestine




Why Israel secretly loves the United Nations
http://www.tnr.com/doc.mhtml?i=w060918&s=levey092006
Opposites Attract
by Gregory Levey

Yesterday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visited New York and addressed the United Nations General Assembly. He was given a full diplomatic welcome by Secretary-General Kofi Annan and most U.N. delegates, even though he has repeatedly called for the destruction of Israel and--in his country's relentless pursuit of nuclear weaponry--seems determined to bring it about. Israel's supporters will likely see his friendly welcome at the United Nations as just the latest example of how the organization puts Israelis' security at risk through its blatant bias against the Jewish state. In August, for example, the Anti-Defamation League put out a press release headlined, "ADL Denounces UN Human Rights Council Anti-Israel Resolution as False and One-Sided." Last year, U.N. Watch, a nongovernmental organization, issued a similarly angry one titled, "U.N. Official Calls Israelis 'Concentration Camp Guards,' Advocates Boycott of Israel."

But, even if this criticism of the United Nations is justified, friends of Israel shouldn't despair. While Israel's supporters frequently complain about the international body's treatment of it, the slanted and inept handling of the Middle East actually serves Israel's interests. By dealing with the region so ineffectually--and, in doing so, alienating Israel's allies--the United Nations gives the Jewish state a wider berth (and more diplomatic acceptance from its allies) than it could ever get on its own.







hen I was serving as Israel's speechwriter at the United Nations, I once found myself standing outside the Secretariat building with Israeli Ambassador Dan Gillerman and then-U.S. Ambassador John Danforth. We had just come out of a Security Council meeting, and Danforth was clearly irritated. The Council had debated a resolution that condemned Israeli military actions in the Gaza Strip without condemning the Palestinian rocket fire that had prompted it. Danforth rejected the resolution, calling it "lopsided."

Outside, the first thing he did was look at Gillerman and me, shake his head dismissively, and grunt, "I'm sick of their bullshit." It was obvious what he meant: The less reasonable the United States considered the opinions and votes of other U.N. members, the more understanding it would give the Israelis. To Danforth, U.N. irrationality might even have been a barometer of Israeli rightness. And this sentiment is a leitmotif in U.S.-U.N.-Israel relations. One of Israel's former top strategists at the United Nations, who is now serving as a senior adviser to Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, put it to me this way: "Sometimes, all we have to do is let the U.N. make itself look bad." More often than not, he said, the worse the United Nations seems, the more understanding the United States gives Israel.

That's exactly what happened in 2004, when Israel set about assassinating the top figures in the Hamas leadership. After Sheikh Ahmed Yassin was gunned down by an Israeli helicopter, the Security Council debated a resolution that condemned the act while remaining essentially silent on Hamas's terrorism. The United States, recognizing it as grossly unbalanced, vetoed it. Many saw this as an American blessing for the Israelis to ignore international condemnation; and ignore it they did. Barely a month later, Israel assassinated Abdel Rantisi, Hamas's next-in-command, and many--including Nasser Al Kidwa, the Palestinian U.N. observer at the time--cited the earlier U.S. veto as Israel's license to kill.

The U.S. government isn't the only one giving Israel extra license to compensate for the U.N.'s treatment. Sometimes, the European Union is in the same boat. Once, when some EU representatives were missing from a U.N. meeting, I asked one of Israel's senior U.N. diplomats where they were. Shrugging, he said, "Probably off spreading their legs for the Arabs." Then, leaning in closer to me, he added that, eventually, "Even the Europeans get impatient with the Arabs' stubbornness" and become more sympathetic to Israel's position. Later, a Western European diplomat confirmed this for me. Rather than oppose Israel like the majority of U.N. member-states had, his country abstained from a vote on a resolution replete with the over-the-top anti-Israel language characteristic of ones authored by the Arab League. He made it clear to me that they probably would have supported it in substance if not for the incendiary rhetoric. "Sometimes, we understand Israel's position," he told me.

In fact, EU behavior at the United Nations often--though not always--confirms this. In 2004, for example, the International Court of Justice issued a damning advisory opinion on Israel's separation barrier. Although the European Union voted for a resolution demanding that Israel comply with the opinion, its statements were worded specifically to distinguish its position from that of other member-states: Although it didn't support the specific route of the barrier, the European Union said, it supported Israel's right to defend itself--in contrast to the many member-states who seemed to oppose Israel's right to build it at all. This was understood by some as a tacit European understanding of Israel's need to build the barrier.

The war with Hezbollah was another example of this pattern. When, in 2004, the United Nations passed resolution 1559--enjoining Lebanon to disarm Hezbollah--there was much skepticism in the Israeli government that anything would actually come out of it. One influential Israeli policymaker told me at the time that the resolution might eventually lead Hezbollah to call the U.N.'s bluff, causing someone--Israel or another force--to step in and enforce the resolution. Those were exactly the terms of the recent Hezbollah war, and, as a result, even the European countries were surprisingly supportive of Israel at the beginning. (Yes, their opinion soured as the war progressed, but nobody's suggesting they ever give as much implicit license to Israel as the United States does.)



o be sure, the Israeli delegation doesn't like to be treated with naked hostility or to endure constant diplomatic attack. Nor does this situation reassure the people back in Israel. Still, it's never as bad as it seems. The endless resolutions condemning Israeli military actions certainly provide usable fodder for critics of Israel, but, with the exception of Security Council resolutions typically vetoed by the U.S. anyway, they are not legally binding. Similarly, constant complaints about Israel's human rights record from U.N. bodies run by the world's worst human rights abusers is more irritating than it is relevant--Western countries can see right through this farce. (Like the United States, they often oppose the appointment of these states to human rights bodies, though in a behind-the-scenes manner rather than in the strident and vocal way the United States does.)

If the United Nations berated Israel in a less cartoonish way, it would be hard for the United States and the Europeans to countenance Israel essentially ignoring the organization when it comes to the safety of its own citizens. In an Israeli calculus, then, the U.N.'s bias gives Israel elbow room--from those that actually matter in the Israeli mindset (the United States and, to a much lesser extent, the European Union)--to handle its own security as it sees fit.

Over the coming months, this pattern will probably replay itself in one of the most critical and dangerous issues in Israel's history: the Iranian nuclear program. If the United Nations refuses to take real action against Iran, Israel may have to take the Iranian threat into its own hands. If so, U.N. member-states will certainly launch their routine conniptions. Thankfully, Israel's patrons in the West will, by then, be "sick of their bullshit."

Gregory Levey was Israel's United Nations speechwriter and senior foreign communications coordinator for Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert. He teaches at Ryerson University and is writing a book called Shut up, I'm talking! My Experience in the Israeli Government.


Original content is Copyright by the author 2006. Posted at ZioNation-Zionism and Israel Web Log, http://www.zionism-israel.com/log/archives/00000249.html where your intelligent and constructive comments are welcome. Disributed by ZNN list. Subscribe by sending a message to ZNN-subscribe@yahoogroups.com. Please forward by e-mail with this notice, cite this article and link to it. Other uses by permission only.

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Below is a hopeful sign that not ALL anti-Israel efforts succeed. AND it was in Vienna, where the IAEA is based!

Arab Nations Fail to Get Resolution Vote

By VERONIKA OLEKSYN
The Associated Press
Friday, September 22, 2006; 5:44 PM
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/09/22/AR2006092201168_pf.html

VIENNA, Austria -- Arab nations on Friday failed to get a vote on a resolution labeling Israel's nuclear capabilities a threat at the International Atomic Energy Agency's annual meeting.

The draft resolution, which also called upon Israel to join the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, was blocked from going to a vote by Israel's allies and other nations.

The final session of the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency's weeklong meeting did pass a separate resolution calling on all Middle Eastern nations to accept IAEA safeguards and take steps toward the establishment of a nuclear weapons free zone.

The measure calling Israel's program a threat, was co-sponsored by Iran. It was kept from going to a vote after 45 nations backed a motion by the Canadian delegate to adjourn the debate Friday evening.

Israel neither confirms nor denies its nuclear status, but is considered to be the only nation in the region with nuclear weapons.

Among those supporting the effort to block the vote were the United States, Israel, France, Germany, Britain and Finland _ which was at the conference on behalf of the European Union.

Arab nations at the annual conference have regularly threatened to submit such a resolutions, but in past years have opted instead to voice their concerns about Israel's nuclear program through a statement from the conference president, which carries less weight than a resolution.

The last time such a resolution was submitted at the annual IAEA conference was in 1991. It passed.

The draft resolution was submitted earlier this week by 15 nations: Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen.

© 2006 The Associated Press

Wendy Leibowitz, Tuesday, September 26th


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