The UN: Nothing If Not Consistently Wrong

I’m shocked. Shocked, I tell you. How could Israel’s government — a government that claims to put Israel’s security concerns first — not come up with this on its own? Thankfully, we have the United Nations to help us out.

I’m speaking — sarcastically of course — of the UN General Assembly’s recently adopted resolution urging Israel to return the Golan Heights to Syria.

The Palestinians, along with the usual array of Arab and Muslim-led nations, accompanied by the usual fellow travelers (South Africa, Venezuela, to name just two), sponsored the resolution. Five equally meaningless pro-Palestinian resolutions offering nothing new were also approved at the same time.

Sure. Now’s a great time to leave the Golan. In the midst of the turmoil of the Syrian civil/regional war that threatens at any moment to explode beyond the Middle East to engulf fully Europe, Russia, and NATO.

Now. When Hezbollah, Iran and ISIS are itching to fill the vacuum left by an Israeli pullout — one that of course will not happen. Now. While Israel must navigate a diplomatic and military gauntlet to avoid opening itself to greater aggression from the aforementioned entities.

Times of Israel readers are as familiar as anybody with the UN’s absurdist history of anti-Israel actions. Were it not for the seriousness of Israel’s growing international isolation, the UN moves would be laughable. But they can’t just be laughed off.

UN pronouncements, even when not enforceable, such as the latest Golan resolution, are important because of how they are regarded by much of the world. The naive and uniformed — which is to say much, if not the great majority, of the world’s population — looks to the UN as a beacon, the best indicator we have of which nations are harmful and which are helpful toward achieving the presumed goal of a reasonable world order.

The UN is a colossal failure, as was probably inevitable from its start, in spite of the horrific tragedy of the world war from which it rose. It’s a sad example of the worst there is in human governance riding roughshod over the few who would aim higher — from the Security Council, to the GA, to its various parts.

Not the least of which is the United Nations Human Rights Council, an Orwellian-named group if ever there was one.

The UNHRC has criticized Israeli actions more than that of any other nation. Since its formation in 2006 (when it replaced an earlier failed UN human rights body) it has condemned Israel 62 times, as opposed to just 59 for the the rest of the world combined. The Israel condemnation requests are generally instigated by Muslim-majority nations and pass with simple majorities, with many nations abstaining.

China, with all its human rights violations in Tibet, has never been condemned. Nor has Russia or Egypt. The nations most condemned for rights’ violations after Israel are Syria, 17 — the same Syria to which the General Assembly has suggested the Golan should be returned — and North Korea, 8.

Human rights violators covet a seat on the UNHRC to stymie investigations or statements that might call them to task. Israel, of course, is denied a seat thanks to the UN’s voting system that requires the approval of a majority of the UN’s worst actors.

However, once again, it’s a laughable situation too serious to be laughed away, because the skewed judgements and pronouncements emanating from the UNHRC are too often reported by the elite international media as carrying legitimate moral authority, with little or no information that adds important counter-balancing context.

But what moral authority can there be in a 47-member body that includes the likes of Saudi Arabia, China, Russia, Ethiopia, Kazakstan, Pakistan, Venezuela, Qatar, Cuba – all serial and serious human rights’ violators? The United States, Japan, France, Germany and the United Kingdom are also members, but have no greater individual say than does any other nation in the group. Majority rules.

The American right wing often argues that Washington should either withdraw from the UN or at least withhold its dues (the U.S. is the UN’s largest single financial supporter, providing 22 percent of the UN budget in 2015, and 28 percent of the peacekeeping budget). Or perhaps just tell the institution to find another home outside New York.

But, like Israel, America and the remaining democratic nations, have no choice but to stay. Having a voice at the table, no matter how muted, no matter how frustrating, is far better than to allow the world’s despots an open path toward fully taking over the largest global institution self-interested humanity has been able to cobble together.

About the Author
Ira Rifkin is an award-winning journalist and author ("Spiritual Perspectives on Globalization: Making Sense of Economic & Cultural Upheaval", SkyLight Paths) who has been widely published on issues relating to Israel, American Jewry, globalization and the news media. He lives in Maryland.
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