The Disgrace of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334
by Jeremy Rosen
President Obama’s groundbreaking abstention on a UN resolution refusing to accept any change to Israel’s 1949 armistice lines — and John Kerry’s one-sided rant against Israel — have revealed the fault lines about Jewish support for Israel in America and abroad.
Appeasement, the favored policy of the Obama administration, has manifestly failed everywhere — from Syria to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. On paper, UNSC Resolution 2334 says nothing new. Even on settlements, it still concedes that the issue must be settled by negotiations. But it is the context that is problematic, specifically America’s abstention instead of veto and then Kerry’s claim that Israel alone is to blame.
I will concede that Netanyahu and his allies have repeatedly snubbed the US. They have been obstructive. They have their lines in the sand: security, land swaps and Jerusalem. But the Palestinians also have their lines in the sand; return of refugees to pre-48 land, no Jews allowed to live in their state and Jerusalem. How Kerry can say that only Israel is causing difficulties defies logic and integrity.
I hate referring to the Holocaust. It should have no bearing on the right of Jews to secure autonomy, despite Obama’s having implied just that in his Cairo speech. The desire to return to the Jews’ ancestral homeland predates the Holocaust by thousands of years. When, as the Book of Psalms says, “We sat by the waters of Babylon and wept as we remembered Zion,” the world was a very different place. There was no Christianity then, and no Islam. There was no United Nations to deny us any historical connection with the land. No community of nations to focus almost entirely on Israel as the only, the sole issue that unites them all.
What the Holocaust means to me is that the world does not care what happens to Jews; that we are “selected” for special ignominy.
When I first saw pictures of the Holocaust as a child, I wondered why people hated us so much. Why was I hated just for being a Jew? And why did almost all the rest of the world neither act to help us nor care what happened to us?
But to link Obama to the Nazis is as childish and offensive as it is plain wrong. Pray tell me, which Jews he has murdered? Sadly, we Jews do not lack idiots any more than any other group does.
The UN probably thinks it is being fair — calling on Palestinians to cease provocation and encouragement of violence and hatred, and calling on Israel to withdraw. But it is not fair, because it (as well as Kerry) is not insisting that both parties sit down together and talk face-to-face.
I do not agree with most of the settlement policies. But by focusing on settlements, the UN is simply aiding Palestinian reluctance to negotiate. Had the Palestinians negotiated 30, 20, or 10 years ago, most settlements would never have been built. The sad fact is that the longer there are no talks, the more settlements will be built — because this has now become a bargaining tool on both sides.
The UN, in other words, is encouraging war. The argument that Israel, being stronger, should make more concessions would only be legitimate if the other side showed some willingness, too.
I feel so sorry for individual Palestinians whom I know and who have suffered — even if much of the suffering inflicted on them has been largely by their own corrupt leadership, gorging on millions in aid while others suffer in poverty. The rest of the Arab and Muslim world told them not to accept UN partition, not to negotiate and not to make peace, while at the same time refusing to offer Palestinian refugees a new life, and consigning most of them to camps. They have encouraged the Palestinians to believe that they can turn all the clocks back.
I have very little in common with right-wing or left-wing Israeli political stances. I stand in the liberal middle, which means that I won’t please anybody.
But I also believe that Israel has no one to negotiate with. Leaving Gaza gained nothing. Both Hamas and Hezbollah are committed to exterminating Jews, and they intentionally fire rockets at civilian targets. Israel froze settlement expansion at the US’ request, which also produced no results. The evidence shows that negotiation is going nowhere.
I don’t see how exiting the West Bank entirely would be in Israel’s best interests. But to provoke one’s allies in the most blatant way, as members of Netanyahu’s government have, cannot do any good. Attacking Obama on his own territory cannot make sense.
I have always favored the idea of land swaps in the interest of a settlement. I have always believed in the right of Arabs to live equally in Israeli territory. And yet I cannot see why Jews should not be allowed to stay and live under a Palestinian authority or state. Many ultra-Orthodox Jews claim that they would prefer to live under a Muslim regime than a secular Jewish one. Yes, I think they are crazy. But they represent another opinion in the complexity of the Middle East, where secular divisions and religious divisions often conflict with each other on both sides.
You cannot have genuine peace if there is no attempt at genuine practical coexistence.
I deplore occupation. I agree with the late Professor Yeshayahu Leibowitz that it degrades Israel’s soul. Any army, however ethical, makes mistakes; rogue commanders, and scared or immature soldiers can do inhuman things. No war, however justified, is pretty. I want to see occupation end. But how, without lying down and rolling over and committing suicide?
I do not see a solution until the world tells the Palestinians, as well as the Israelis, that they must negotiate. Then, when there are agreed boundaries, we can talk about legalities and compensation and rectification. But until such a time, trying to bully only one side will only have the effect of pushing peace further away and handing the messianists the justification for praying for the apocalypse.
Churchill supposedly said of the UN, “Better jaw-jaw than war-war.” But Obama, Kerry and the UN are currently encouraging war-war, because they refuse to insist that the parties to the conflict engage in jaw-jaw. I am worried — but not about whether there is a Palestinian state or what the whole world thinks. I am worried about the violence that is bound to continue with both sides suffering.
Post script: I am delighted that British Prime Minister Theresa May has decided to stand up and say this publicly; there are benefits to Brexit.