Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

UN Chief Spurns Israel in Hour of Need

July 23, 2014 10:55 am 1 comment

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry meets with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the 50th anniversary African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on May 25, 2013. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

It is hard to imagine two more unwelcome, uninvited visitors to Israel in the middle of a war against Palestinian terrorists than UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and US Secretary of State John Kerry.  But even more unwelcome is that they are working together.

Their common cause is that although Israel has a right of self-defense in theory, Israel ought to be prevented from exercising this right in practice.

Events over the past week have provided an extraordinary demonstration of this reprehensible nexus.

On July 16, 2014, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) issued a report stating: “the Israeli military delivered text messages to virtually all the residents of Ash Shuja’iyya and Az Zaitun neighborhoods in eastern Gaza city, approximately 100,000 people, warning them to leave their homes by 8 am today (16 July), ahead of attacks to be launched in the area.”  The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) also made phone calls and distributed leaflets.

OCHA then describes what came next:  “Subsequently, the Palestinian Ministry of Interior in Gaza reportedly instructed the residents to…not flee the area.”  As a result, OCHA admits: “the vast majority decided to stay.”

This story tells us both that Israel adhered to the Geneva Convention demand of providing “effective advance warning” to civilians and that Hamas violated the rule forbidding parties to “direct the movement of …civilians in order to shield military objectives from attack.”

What was Hamas trying to protect when it used Palestinians as human shields in Shuja’iyya?

The IDF refers to Shuja’iyya as the Hamas’ “terror fortress” in the Gaza Strip. The IDF has found more than ten openings to tunnels in Shuja’iyya and since July 8, Hamas has fired over 140 rockets at Israel from this neighborhood alone. As IDF Chief of General Staff Benny Gantz put it: “Hamas has built a war machine in residential areas.”

This is another violation of the laws of armed conflict. By deliberately locating its terrorist infrastructure in the midst of Shuja’iyya’s civilian population, Hamas violates the prohibition on “locating legitimate military targets within or near densely populated areas.”

Following the warnings, the IDF went into the Shuja’iyya neighborhood – and is still there – for the purpose of destroying the tunnels that have been designed and used to attack Israeli civilians.  This is Hamas’ most basic war crime of all. In the words of the Geneva Conventions, civilians “shall not be the object of attack.”

On the night of July 19, 2014 in separate incidents in the Shuja’iyya area, Israel lost 13 soldiers, more soldiers in a single night than Israel lost in the whole of the three week 2008-2009 ground offensive Operation Cast Lead. These soldiers died in an ambush. An anti-tank mine. Trapped in a burning building.

The IDF affords us the context.  They “encountered fierce Hamas fighting in the dense urban environment” as Hamas tried “to defend their tunnel infrastructure.”

In these circumstances, Palestinian civilians who remained in Shuja’iyya – despite the warnings –  died.  Data on fatalities, in OCHA’s own words, are “preliminary and subject to change based on further verification,” so the number of civilian casualties is unclear.

What is clear is the outrageous reaction of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.  On July 20, 2014 he said: “dozens more civilians, including children, have been killed in Israeli military strikes in the Shuja’iyya neighborhood in Gaza. I condemn this atrocious action. Israel must exercise maximum restraint and do far more to protect civilians.”

Ban Ki-moon said nothing about Hamas having failed to protect Palestinian civilians.  He said nothing about Hamas having put Palestinian civilians directly in harm’s way.  In fact he said nothing about any “atrocious action” by Hamas.  He also made no demand that Hamas “restrain” itself from fulfilling its stated goal, namely, that “Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it.”

For the UN, no move that Israel makes short of surrender to the Palestinian mob, will ever be sufficient.

When Palestinian civilians did heed Israel’s warnings and did not die, on July 16, 2014 OCHA complained “the relocation experience has been…traumatic…Women have reported stress due to their inability to maintain…modesty norms…[in] overcrowded spaces…”

Five million Israelis have just seconds to run for a bomb shelter and save their lives. Older people have died from heart failure when the sirens go off. Small children flee rockets raining down on their kindergartens and spend hours trapped between four walls day after day. Let alone the parents and brothers and sisters of the 50,000 plus heroic young men and women on the front lines who spend every waking minute dreading a phone call, haunted by the prospect of kidnapping by very real monsters.

The truth is the UN doesn’t give a damn about the suffering of Israelis.

On July 18, 2014 the giant UN apparatus assembled in Geneva for the world press.  There was OCHA, and the World Food Programme (WFP), the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, and the UN Palestinian refugee agency (UNRWA).  Not one of these organizations said one word about Israelis.

This is not merely indifference; it is gross negligence and collaboration. On July 17, 2014 UNRWA confessed to “discovering” rockets in one of their schools, then refused to make the photographs public, and promptly gave the rockets back to the rocketeers – or as UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness delicately called them, “the local authorities.”

UNRWA had the audacity to claim “this incident is the first of its kind…” knowing full well that Hamas has directly involved UNRWA schools in its war crimes before – with video evidence over the past decade to prove it.

Canadian reporter  Patrick Martin happened to be visiting UNRWA’s Fakhoura School on July 15, 2014 and described the experience this way: “Heading toward the exit, we were overwhelmed by the jet-like sound of two rockets being launched from somewhere near the school. Hamas, or some militant group, clearly is hoping the Israelis won’t strike at the launchers…because they’re close to the school.” He adds that the kids were enthusiastic and knowledgeable about the weaponry; “as the Hamas-made missiles screamed off into the sky…the kids all cheered,” and one boy identified the make and model as the kind aimed at Tel Aviv.

Israelis, by contrast, are not cheering Palestinian civilian deaths.

On June 20, 2014, the UN Secretary-General gave a major speech on UN action on Syria and unashamedly declared: “Since June last year…the United Nations has not been issuing any statistics of death tolls.  It is impossible and very sad and tragic to count all these dead bodies.” The UN does not count Syrian dead because it’s too sad, but throwing around unverified numbers of Palestinian civilian casualties serves a more palatable political endgame.

When Ban Ki-moon comes knocking, therefore, his bona fides are non-existent. So why is Secretary Kerry by his side?

On June 20, 2014, responding to a question from CNN’s Wolf Blitzer about Palestinian civilian casualties, Prime Minister Netanyahu said that Israel is “trying to be as pinpointed as we can.”  Shortly thereafter, Secretary Kerry was caught on camera by Fox News talking to an aide who was apparently briefing him on the CNN conversation. Kerry reacted “It’s a hell of a pinpoint operation.”

Set aside the 273 civilians across Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, who have been killed unintentionally during the Obama administration’s limited endeavors to reduce terrorism. Think back to the President’s speech on America’s right to self-defense in the context of Syria – a country not on the U.S. border and not posing an imminent threat to three-quarters of the American population. Addressing the nation on September 10, 2013, Obama declared “the United States military doesn’t do pinpricks.”

One rule for Israel and another for everybody else, evidently appeals to both the UN and the Obama administration. A shameful scheme in Israel’s hour of need.

The author is director of the Touro Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust. Follow her at @AnneBayefsky. This article was originally published by The Jerusalem Post.

1 Comment

  • Israel Lover

    We know these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equally, except for Jews, who apparantly are nt entitled to the same rights and privileges as terrorists. Israel is not held to a double standard. It is held to a standard that is impossible to fulfill. As the author so beautifully noted, and I paraphrase, “Israel can defend itself, as long as it doesn’t.”

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition. Comments written in all caps will be deleted.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Arts and Culture Jewish Identity Jewish ‘Scandal’ Star Says He Remains True to Religious Ritual, Despite Scheduling, Dietary Conflicts

    Jewish ‘Scandal’ Star Says He Remains True to Religious Ritual, Despite Scheduling, Dietary Conflicts

    A star of the hit TV show Scandal told the community website Quora.com that, throughout his acting career, he has remained faithful to his Judaism, even when it has caused him to forfeit gigs. Joshua Malina, who plays the character of David Rosen on the ABC political-thriller series, reminisced about his early days in Hollywood, when he had no agent and could only go to open-call auditions. At one of these — a try-out for a commercial — he said he waited on a line that was “maybe a city […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Huffington Post Accused of ‘Jew-Hatred’ After Tweeting ‘Offensive’ Joke About Comedian at Video Music Awards

    Huffington Post Accused of ‘Jew-Hatred’ After Tweeting ‘Offensive’ Joke About Comedian at Video Music Awards

    The Huffington Post is facing backlash after joking about a Jewish comedian’s  appearance at the Video Music Awards (VMAs) on Sunday night. Josh “The Fat Jew” Ostrovsky took part in Nick Jonas’ performance of his song “Bacon,” staged in a New York diner — in a cameo role as a waiter throwing a handful of bacon in the air. Commenting on the show, the Huffington Post tweeted, “not thrilled at the fat jew [he] wasted all that perfectly good bacon!!!!!!” The message angered many Twitter users, who thought the joke […]

    Read more →
  • Sports Israeli Fans Mob, Dance With Basketball Player Amar’e Stoudemire at First Jerusalem Team Practice (VIDEO)

    Israeli Fans Mob, Dance With Basketball Player Amar’e Stoudemire at First Jerusalem Team Practice (VIDEO)

    Israeli basketball fans mobbed Hapoel Jerusalem’s newest player, American pro Amar’e Stoudemire, dancing around with him during a practice open to the public. On Friday, the team posted a video on Twitter of the happy romp with fans jumping around Stoudemire, while chanting in Hebrew. Unfamiliar with the lyrics, Stoudemire pumps his fist in the air. The basketball player, who has Jewish roots on his mother’s side, also waved a flag emblazoned with Hapoel Jerusalem’s logo. The former New York Knicks forward retired from the NBA earlier […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Playboy Columnist Calls Israel’s ‘Burning Man’ Festival ‘Ultimate Revenge on Hitler’

    Playboy Columnist Calls Israel’s ‘Burning Man’ Festival ‘Ultimate Revenge on Hitler’

    The Israeli version of the famed American Burning Man music festival is the “ultimate revenge on Hitler,” according to a column in Playboy magazine on Thursday. In his column, Jeff Weiss also took note of the fact that Midburn — a five-day bacchanal in the Negev Desert, self-described as an event celebrating “a communal life style, creativity, art and radical self-expression” — began on June 8, the day of the Sarona Market terrorist attack in Tel Aviv, which left four people dead. Weiss asked rhetorically, “What could needle the mustached […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Author of New Book on Connection Between Jews, Punk Rock Describes Bands Flinging Gefilte Fish, Bagels at Audience (INTERVIEW)

    Author of New Book on Connection Between Jews, Punk Rock Describes Bands Flinging Gefilte Fish, Bagels at Audience (INTERVIEW)

    Some punk rockers integrate their Jewish identity into their music through food, the author of a new book on the topic told The Algemeiner on Wednesday. Michael Croland, author of Oy Oy Oy Gevalt! Jews and Punk, described the way different musicians express this connection. “One band is known for throwing gefilte fish in the mosh pit, and people at its concert slide around on it while dancing,” he recounted. “Another used to drink Manischewitz [sweet kosher] wine out of a shofar [the ram […]

    Read more →
  • Sports Scottish Soccer Club Manager Hails ‘Fantastic’ Jewish-State Visit After Victory Over Israeli Team (VIDEO)

    Scottish Soccer Club Manager Hails ‘Fantastic’ Jewish-State Visit After Victory Over Israeli Team (VIDEO)

    The manager of Scotland’s Celtic soccer club lauded Israel, after his team won a match against the Jewish state’s Hapoel Be’er Sheva on Tuesday night. Brendan Rodgers said at a post-match press conference: On behalf of the players, the people of Celtic and Scotland, Israel’s been fantastic for us. We came out here on Sunday, [and from] the hotel, the staff, we’ve been very, very warmly received. The atmosphere at the game was amazing and, obviously, one team has to lose, but you have a wonderful team here, […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Second Jaffa Jazz Festival to Reunite International, Israeli Musicians

    Second Jaffa Jazz Festival to Reunite International, Israeli Musicians

    For the second time, Israel will host the Jaffa Jazz Festival, according to Broadwayworld.com. The festival will unite 43 Israeli musicians and eight international artists for a three-day event. The program will include a special performance by an ensemble of top jazz students studying at Belgium’s Royal Conservatoire of Antwerp, the Belgrade Music Academy in Serbia, Israel’s Rimon School of Music and the jazz program of the Israel Conservatory of Music in Tel Aviv. There will also be a jazz show for children led by Israeli saxophonist […]

    Read more →
  • Sports Israel’s First NASCAR Driver Revved Up to Win

    Israel’s First NASCAR Driver Revved Up to Win

    JNS.org – As a young boy growing up in Ashdod, Israel, Alon Day got his first go-kart at age 9. By 15, he was racing them. Less than a decade later, Day has become the first Israeli professional race car driver on the NASCAR circuit. He made history by competing in NASCAR’s Xfinity Series race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on August 13. “Driving a race car is not like any other sport,” Day told JNS.org. “You are actually almost flying […]

    Read more →