The expression “have you no shame?” has been applied so many times to resolutions biased against Israel at the United Nations, that it has simply lost its meaning.
We were reminded again this week of the futility of fairness at the United Nations and its agencies when the World Health Organization (WHO) adopted a measure calling for an investigation of Israel over “mental, physical, and health” violations. It cited “the health conditions in the occupied Palestinian territory,” as well as “the occupied Syrian Golan.”
Voting for the resolution were 107countries including, shamefully, France, Germany and the United Kingdom. Those three countries should be singled out not only for knowing better, but for their continual pandering on the Israeli-Palestinian issue.
As Syria burns (and where hospitals are bombed), Yemen implodes and Islamic extremism spreads daily through the Middle East and Africa, the UN system—seemingly impotent to stop any of these crises—is reaching back once again to the tried and true hectoring of Israel. And with frightening threats posed by the Zika virus and by a new strain of an antibiotic-resistant virus, it strains credulity as to why the WHO has chosen to muddy its reputation by politicizing its mission.
It is no secret that Israeli hospitals and doctors not only treat Palestinians in need, but patients from throughout the Arab world. The Israeli organization Save a Child’s Heart has performed thousands of pediatric heart operations on Palestinian children, and hundreds of others from the Arab world and Africa. My synagogue is currently raising funds to support two such operations, for Palestinian and Tanzanian children.
The WHO resolution amounts to nothing less than a 21st century version of a blood libel. In the Middle Ages, blood libels were the common currency of anti-Semitism in Europe, which is why those European countries which voted in support of this measure deserve special opprobrium.
But why should we be surprised by all of this? Last year, the UN’s Commission on the Status of Women singled out Israel—from among all countries—for violations of women’s rights. The commission report distributed at the time served as yet another cover for delegitimizing Israel, by alleging, among other things that Palestinian women were being denied health care services, sanitation and other basic services, in the “West Bank, Gaza and eastern Jerusalem.” That Gaza was included is especially instructive: it is under the control of Hamas, not Israel.
That denigration and discrimination against women is still rife in most of the Arab world apparently escaped the Commission’s attention. That honor killings, limited access to education and denial of judicial redress to women are often the order of the day in those places, and were not reported on by the Commission speaks to the endemic hypocrisy of this enterprise, and to the increasing irrelevance of the entire organization.
And that is the point. There can only be three explanations for this unending stream of anti-Israel resolutions at the United Nations.
1. Some countries may feel that a drumbeat of criticism of Israel will hasten a two-state solution; that by pushing Israel this way and that, it will eventually force Israel to give in to international demands for a deal—any kind of deal, including proposals that would undercut Israel’s security.
2. But many other countries have bought into the Palestinian narrative, which has led to a steady, decades-long drumbeat of opprobrium, which shouts out, “don’t confuse me with the facts.” If you say Israelis are poisoning the wells long enough, it must be true. And if it is, they are not only “occupiers,” but unworthy of having a place in the international community to call their own.
3. And then there are countries which simply go-along to get-along, nations for which principles and values are secondary to the horse-trading that drives conversations in the corridors off the General Assembly Hall.
At the same time, there is also a fourth group, the one that voted against this venal WHO resolution. It recognized that the double standard and the slights directed at Israel and its dedicated doctors, nurses, researchers and ambulance drivers were politically motivated. It understood that the charges were lies, and they could not bring themselves to go along. On that very short list, besides, of course, Israel: the United States, Australia, Canada, Guatemala, Micronesia, Papua New Guinea and Paraguay.
The promise of those who gathered to create the United Nations in San Francisco in 1945, in the wake of the worst calamities known to mankind, has once again been sundered. Seemingly, all we can do is wring our hands, and hope for better days.
The obsession with Israel is indicative of a deeper decay in an international system that operates not on conflict resolution, but on conflict perpetuation. And on scapegoating one of the world’s exemplary democracies.
Daniel S. Mariaschin is the executive vice president of B’nai B’rith International. As the organization’s top executive officer, Mariaschin directs and supervises B’nai B’rith programs, activities and staff around the world.