I published the following open letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the eve of his Saturday address, Feb. 6, 2016, to Manhattan’s Park East Synagogue. The letter was reportedly handed to him upon his arrival.
Dear Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon,
Tomorrow when you attend synagogue to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day—after two weeks when you singled out Israel at the Security Council and in the New York Times—I hope you will pay heed to the following verses of Exodus in the weekly Bible portion that will be read out before the congregation:
“Do not spread a false report… Do not follow the crowd to do evil; neither shall you testify in a dispute by siding with the multitude to pervert justice.” (Exodus XXIII)
As you begin your 10th year as Secretary-General of the United Nations, I hope you reflect upon these words, and on how your conduct has changed over time.
Because I remember when, during your first year in office, in 2007, you admirably criticized the Human Rights Council after it decided to permanently single out Israel under a special agenda item at every one of its meetings. You were sharply rebuked for this by the 56-strong Islamic group.
Today, perhaps because you have been stung by such rebukes from the multitude that dominates your organization—including the 120-strong Non-Aligned Movement, now chaired by Iran—too often your own actions, and those carried out by U.N. officials under your command, spread false reports, follow the crowd to do evil, and deliver testimony that perverts justice.
Let us begin by your remarks last week to the Security Council. Though you started by saying that you condemned Palestinian stabbings, car attacks and shootings against Israelis, you swiftly absolved the terrorists of any moral responsibility by saying “it is human nature to react to occupation.”
Going further, you drew a narrative in which Palestinian “alienation,” “despair,” and “frustration” are “driving” the murder of Israelis. You chastised Israel for “provocative acts,” some of which you described as “an affront to the Palestinian people.”
No, Mr. Secretary General. It was not “human nature” for Palestinians, in the week preceding your UN remarks, to stab to death Dafna Meir, a mother of six children, outside her home; to stab Michal Froman, a pregnant woman; or to stab Shlomit Krigman, a 23-year-old university graduate, who died from her wounds on the day of your testimony.
The truth is that Palestinian youth are being incited day and night to murder Israelis. While you did say that “incitement has no place,” you deliberately refused to condemn the perpetrators, omitting any mention of the Palestinian Authority, its president Mahmoud Abbas, or Fatah, all of of whom have glorified the murderers of Israelis as “martyrs.”
Likewise, while you condemned the firing of rockets into Israel, you again noticeably declined to name Hamas, Islamic Jihad, or its leaders, sufficing instead with a generic reference to anonymous “militant groups.”
Doubling down, you then published an unprecedented New York Times op-ed last Sunday which repeated the same one-sided charges, pointing the finger at “senior members of Israel’s government.” Hamas and Abbas again went unmentioned.
Instead of making excuses for terrorists, you ought to learn courage from Muslims like Lucy Aharish, an Arab Israeli journalist, who, unlike you, has unequivocally condemned Arab leaders’ incitement to kill in the name of Islam, saying, “I refuse to accept excuses of frustration.”
As noted by Herb Keinon of the Jerusalem Post, none of your 85 op-eds of the past decade have gone after a specific country in this fashion. China, Russia, Cuba, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and other regimes, all get a free pass.
Instead, your 2007 op-ed on Darfur actually commended President Omar al-Bashir—the same man who is wanted by the ICC for genocide in Darfur—for his “unqualified commitment to support the peacekeeping mission.” And in the same article you found reason to shower praise on Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi for “generously” offering to host peace talks, and for his “remarkable” water pipeline. What a perversion of truth!
U.N.’s Own Record
Mr. Secretary-General, neither Israel nor any other government is above criticism. But it’s time for you to consider that Palestinians must be held morally responsible for their own actions, and not infantilized.
It’s time for you to consider that Palestinian anger might also be a consequence of oppression by Hamas and the Palestinian Authority—both of them dictatorial governments—just as hundreds of millions of other Arabs and Muslims throughout the Middle East, as the world suddenly learned five years ago during the Arab Spring, have been oppressed by their own regimes.
It’s time for you to consider that Israel is not the problem in the Middle East, which is sinking into chaos because of ideologies of ignorance, medievalism and death; and that, on the contrary, having more Middle East societies like open-minded, innovative and democratic Israel is the solution.
Most importantly, you ought to consider your own organization’s role in all of this.
When was the last time that you spoke out against the demonization of Israelis that pervades the resolutions and debates of the U.N. General Assembly, UNESCO, and the Human Rights Council?
When last year the GA condemned Israel in 20 one-sided resolutions that gave a free pass to Hamas—with only three resolutions on the rest of the world combined—why were you silent?
When Hamas terrorists fired thousands of rockets at Israel in the summer of 2014, and the U.N.’s highest human rights body held an emergency session that condemned Israel 18 times and Hamas 0 times, why were you silent?
When that same body created a biased commission of inquiry headed by William Schabas, a life-long anti-Israel activist who did paid legal work for the PLO, why were you silent?
When the upcoming March session of the Human Rights Council is planning to hold yet another follow-up debate on the discredited 2009 Goldstone Report — even though Goldstone long ago retracted the core charge of that report — why are you silent?
When UN Watch revealed last year that the Goldstone Report’s key author—whom your Geneva staff deliberately hired—was in fact a rabid Hamas supporter, Grietje Baars, who served as European spokeswoman for the Gaza Flotilla of 2010, and who dedicated her life to prosecuting Israelis for alleged war crimes, why were you silent? Why are you not launching an investigation into this fundamental breach of U.N. neutrality?
When the UNHRC is planning next month to name a new Special Rapporteur into “Israel’s violations of the bases and principles of international law,” a one-sided mandate that looks only at Israeli actions and presumes guilt in advance, why are you silent?
Mr. Secretary-General, your op-ed was entitled “Don’t shoot the messenger, Israel.” Perhaps you ought to consider that the U.N. is not a messenger here, but a key actor; and that, too often, your organization’s actions encourage, enable and legitimize terrorism.
If you unequivocally condemn terrorism that strikes French, American, and Nigerian victims, without expressing sympathy and understanding with the alleged grievances of the murderers, you should do no different when the victims are Israelis.
I conclude again with the words of the Bible:
“Do not spread a false report… Do not follow the crowd to do evil; neither shall you testify in a dispute by siding with the multitude to pervert justice.”
Hillel C. Neuer