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August 22, 2022 11:21 am

The UN’s Intolerance of Truth

avatar by Mitchell Bard


Israel’s former prime minister, Naftali Bennett, addresses the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, at the UN headquarters in New York, US, September 27, 2021. Photo: John Minchillo/Pool via REUTERS

Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Chaim Herzog, once noted this about the organization’s Alice In Wonderland perspective on Israel: “In the UN building … she would only have to wear a Star of David in order to hear the imperious ‘Off with her head’ at every turn.”

This is the same organization that helped give birth to Israel by approving the partition of Palestine into a Jewish and Arab state. Sadly, that was one of the UN’s few positive actions regarding the Jewish homeland.

Over the years, the UN has become a forum for Israel bashing, with resolutions adopted year after year condemning Israel for a multitude of alleged sins, while ignoring the threats and terrorist attacks directed against it. President Obama’s UN ambassador, Susan Rice, described Israel’s treatment as “obsessive, ugly, bad for the United Nations and bad for peace.”

According to UN Watch, since 2012, the UN General Assembly has voted on 180 resolutions related to Israel, and only 45 related to the rest of the world. The only reason the statistics aren’t similar in the Security Council is because of the United States veto. However, America has used that power only 37 times, and supported the Council’s criticism of Israel by its vote of support or abstaining roughly two-thirds of the time.

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It is not enough that the General Assembly has an automatic majority to pillory Israel at the behest of any member; the UN set up a series of bodies that exist only to demonize Israel, such as the Committee on the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.

The UN’s Human Rights Council is not supposed to focus on Israel, but that is what it does.

Since 2006, Israel has been condemned there 95 times, followed by Syria (37) and Myanmar (26). No resolutions criticized human rights in Turkey, Cuba, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Russia, or China.

The UN is the principal international forum for disseminating lies about the Jews and Israel.

And what happens on the rare occasion that an employee of one of the UN agencies dedicated to the demonization of Israel dares to speak the truth?

When asked during Operation Protective Edge in July 2014 if Hamas was using human shields and using UN schools and hospitals to store weapons and as a shelter from which to launch missiles into Israel, John Ging, Director of the Operational Division at the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, stated, “Yes, the armed groups are firing their rockets into Israel from the vicinity of UN facilities and residential areas. Absolutely.”

At a press conference the same day, the Deputy Secretary-General of the UN, Jan Eliasson, condemned Israel for bombing a school in response to mortar fire from the area. The Secretary-General called the attack outrageous and unjustifiable. Ging admitted rockets were found in UN schools, but insisted they were only in ones that had been abandoned.

When asked whether Hamas was endangering the population by continuing to fight, Eliasson essentially argued it was unavoidable that civilians would be used as shields. “Well, since Gaza is of this limited size,” he said, “every military action will be close to the civilian population — that is a fact of life.” He admitted Israel was “asking people to leave certain areas before an attack takes place,” but implied that Israel shouldn’t return fire because Gaza is “crowded.”

Ging was asked whether the UN informed Hamas of the location of the UN school, so it would stop shooting rockets from that area. He replied, “Yes, absolutely,” but did not mention that the terrorists continued to do so.

There have been two examples in the last year of UN officials admitting the truth before being forced to recant.

The first occurred during Operation Guardian of the Walls. The Hamas narrative parroted by the UN was that Israel was deliberately targeting civilians. The director of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) operations in Gaza broke ranks, and acknowledged that Israel’s attacks were precise and directed at military targets. “They did not hit,” Matthias Schmale said, “with some exceptions, civilian targets.”

Hamas demanded an apology, accusing Schmale of appointing “himself a military commentator or spokesperson for the Israeli army, excusing the harm against civilians and their homes, and reducing the extent of the damage and praising the capabilities of the occupying army and the precision of its attacks.”

Schmale predictably did a mea culpa, apologizing for comments that “offended and hurt those who had family members and friends killed and injured during the war that has just ended.” Israel’s care in avoiding civilian casualties was now revised.

“Military precision and sophistication are never a justification for war,” he said. “There is no justification whatsoever for killing civilians. … Many people were killed or have been severely injured by direct strikes or collateral damage from strikes. In a place as densely populated as Gaza, any strike will have huge damaging effects on people and buildings.” He further characterized Israeli airstrikes as “terror from the sky” that “amounts to a form of collective punishment of the civilian population.”

More recently, the head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the Palestinian Authority was forced to resign after condemning the indiscriminate rocket attacks by Islamic Jihad.

Sarah Muscroft had tweeted her relief at the ceasefire announcement that ended Operation Breaking Dawn. She was immediately pilloried by Palestinians who were upset that she did not blame Israel for the hostilities. She backtracked by saying she had been “ill-informed,” apologized for her “poor judgment,” and deleted her original tweet and then her account. It was not enough to save her job.

The examples are consistent with the UN’s longstanding pattern of ignoring terrorist attacks against Israel and only condemning Israel’s reaction to them. It is like defending arsonists and criticizing firefighters.

Dr. Mitchell Bard is the director of the Jewish Virtual Library and a foreign policy analyst who has written/edited 22 books, including “The Arab Lobby: The Invisible Alliance That Undermines America’s Interests in the Middle East.”

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