Stupidity and the UN

The UN. Yes, that no doubt important institution, that is still in the Cold War. Yes, the one group that can actually bind Diaspora Jews together. Well they did it again. Enraging all those self proclaimed pro-Israel warriors.

The UN General Assembly approved a Palestinian-backed resolution Wednesday blaming Israel for violence in Gaza after narrowly rejecting a U.S. demand to add a condemnation of attacks on Israel by Gaza’s Hamas rulers. This episode, like many others in regards to the UN, is stupid. The UN was (partially) stupid. Most responses were stupid. Most of the coverage of this resolution, devoid of nuance, meant for ostentatious headlines and grabbing angry eyeballs online, was stupid. This is all quite stupid.

Firstly, the resolution. It contained no mention of the fact that Israel was defending its border. There were reports that Hamas was organizing and controlling the protests on that fateful day when at least 60 people died (May 14). People. Israeli soldiers probably had no way to clearly decipher amongst the tens of thousands of people out protesting which might have been unarmed and which might have been armed. And who could clearly see in the midst of all that black smoke emanating from the Palestinian side? It has been shown also, that not all of the protestors were peaceful, as some were eager to “kill…whatever is possible”. Others resorted to firebombs and explosive devices.

And how does anything about violence between Palestinians and Israelis in Gaza not mention Hamas, which is designated as a terrorist group by the US, Canada, and the EU? Well, to US Ambassador Nikki Haley’s credit, she tried to get in an amendment that would condemn Hamas, as any reasonable person would hope. And although that amendment was approved 62-58 (42 abstentions), a rare “win” for Israel, a two-thirds vote was needed so the amendment ultimately failed.

So, instead of guessing and banging our heads as to why that incredibly reasonable amendment to condemn the terrorist group ruling Gaza with an iron fist that has called for Jewish genocide in its charter, murdered many Israelis, and repressed Palestinian women (thanks, Yair Rosenberg), let’s look no further than to the Algerian Ambassador Sabri Boukadoum, who represents the Arab nations at the UN. Of the amendment condemning Hamas not being added, Mr. Boukadoum said that it was not relevant to the UN resolution. What? How is Hamas irrelevant to the violence happening at the Gaza border not relevant? What is Mr. Boukadoum on? They no doubt organized the protests in some capacity. They also manipulated and lied to many innocent protestors that the fence had been breached on May 14th, causing a rushing of the fence resulting in more gruesome and horrible bloodshed. Hamas, again, a terrorist organization governing the Gaza strip, spends (if we are being generous) too much time trying to kill Jews and not enough time governing effectively (Israel is not always helping in terms of resources). Hamas forces hatred upon the people in Gaza who are stuck under their brute force, many times leading to many people getting coerced to hate the “Zionist pigs”. Because to not hate and not act on that hate against those “Zionist pigs” would mean jeopardizing your safety (support for Hamas in Gaza is around 30%). Every conversation about Gaza, and especially every conversation at the UN, should mention Hamas. If Hamas is not mentioned in a conversation about Gaza, I’d bet a good amount of money that the people in that conversation are not being intellectually honest.

Secondly, the voters. Just plain stupid. Theoretically, we all want peace in the Middle East. Probably and especially you would want peace and believe peace is attainable if you are working at the UN in some capacity. But, as Yossi Klein Halevi beautifully states, “the moral dissonance between Israel and the international community only strengthens the Israeli hard right”, who see the world against Israel and are naturally more skeptical of any peace deals. Overwhelming and unnecessary criticism at the UN, which this was, reinforces this ever growing idea that Israel ought to isolate itself. Leaving peace behind. When perceived threats to Israel’s border are dismissed as ‘peaceful demonstrations,’ Yossi Klein Halevi says that “Israelis conclude that world opinion is either obtuse or hostile. The result is a dismissal of any criticism.” When Israel is given the benefit of the doubt and treated fairly in the international community, they are more willing to come to the table and talk about peace. When they feel that they are treated fairly, morally, and honestly they are empowered to seek peace. This one sided UN resolution (no Hamas!) was one more move by the international community in forcing Israel to feel isolated and alone. This stupid resolution will weaken the arguments amongst Israelis for vigorously pursuing peace.

Now this is minor in the grand scheme of things, but thirdly, Amb. Nikki Haley’s walk out when the Palestinian delegation at the UN began speaking on May 15th was stupid. Surely just a stunt to gain unnecessary attention and make ideologues (in the Trump administration) feel good, this was an immature way to handle diplomacy. The US is not the Zionist Organization of America. The US is not StandWithUS. The US is supposed to be serious. The US is supposed to be the world leader. Not some aggrieved 13 year old who just can’t stand that other kid. That was stupid.

Fourthly, the coverage. Essentially describing this as an anti-Israel resolution in multiple widely read english publications about Israel and current affairs makes this resolution looks more one sided. It makes the UN look worse. It reaffirms the mildly ridiculous narrative that the UN hates Israel. The coverage was mainly devoid of nuance, meant for ostentatious headlines and grabbing angry eyeballs online. What is wrong with this tweet from the AP?

Fifth, the response. It feels like it is just bound to be unbelievably stupid. Whenever the UN does something that might remotely whiff of being anti-Israel, every strident “pro-Israel” Diaspora Jew gets into position and gets mad, either in real life or online. It is with 100% certainty that this visceral response will also be devoid of nuance. There will be no calm discussion that Israel failed to minimize the number of Palestinian casualties. There will also be no discussion, as history professor Vanessa Ogle at Cal Berkeley points out, that “the UN was and remains the only international forum where smaller and less influential states have been able to name and shame the injustices of the powerful, often while averting their gaze when it came to the crimes and murders committed by their own.”

It is also worth asking that if Jewish people are to be free and living in Israel, our rightful home (in some capacity), only at the expense of Palestinian people, then how free really is Israel? How free are we?

Most responses to this resolution, especially from the Israeli and Jewish side (I can really only write about these narratives), will be about reaffirming previously held beliefs. About being mad, online. About learning nothing new. There will be only stupidity. There will be no introspection. No calm reflections. This conflict is rife with anger and this episode will be just another way for people to show how little they have learned, how little they focus, how little they care. Stupidity.

About the Author
Brett L. Kleiman is currently a student at Emory University in Atlanta, GA, where he studies political science and international relations. He is a research intern at the Institute for the Study of Modern Israel and is also the president of the Emory Democrats. Born and raised in Houston, Texas, Brett attended The Robert M Beren Academy for 12 years. From September 2015 to June 2016 Brett lived in Israel through Young Judaea's gap year program, Year Course. Brett is interested in Israel, America, diplomacy, podcasts, Game of Thrones, The Wire, politics, reading, sports, and peace.
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