Paulette Woolf
Retired UN staff and Proud Israeli Citizen

Why Israel’s message is falling on deaf ears

“How is it possible that all these countries vote against Israel at the UN when it’s so clear that we are a nation that wants peace and Hamas are the terrorists?” is the question I received most often, after “how could you work for such an antisemitic, anti-American, misogynist organization (which requires a whole different conversation)?”

During my almost 20 years at United Nations Headquarters in NY as the highest-ranking Orthodox Jew, I endured a great deal of stress by trying to do my job without entering into political or religious discussions with colleagues. As a daughter of survivors, this took a toll on me both physically and psychologically.

My UN job did not require interaction with the General Assembly or any political entities. However, I did observe a great deal and would like to share with you my standard response to that sensitive question.

It’s important to understand that, for a lot of Member States, voting against Israel is not always antisemitic, or even personal. It’s just self-preservation. For them, there is no downside. On the other hand, voting with Israel is risky. It subjects the Member State to loss of potential business, isolation and retaliation by anti-Israel countries. Supporting Israel requires courage. Most Member States would prefer to go with the flow. They might be counting on loans or investments or tourism from these other countries and honestly, they don’t need the headache. It’s not their fight so why take a stand?

Unfortunately, it’s as simple as that, hard though it may be for most people to accept.

To provide an analogy, it’s how many would behave if they walked past a couple on the street that was arguing or even physically fighting. “Do I intervene? Should I intervene? I could get hurt and I have my own family to consider.” This thought process is no different for governments whose first priority is the well-being of their citizens.

Is it fair? No. Is it morally correct? Not by any objective standards. Does it adhere to the values upon which the United Nations was established and claims to uphold? Not even close.

We Jews dedicate so much of our time and energy trying to prove to the rest of the world that we’re the good guys. We’re the victims. We help everyone who needs it, from flood and earthquake victims to injured terrorists who try to murder us. Do we honestly believe that these countries don’t know who the real terrorists are? That if we educate them, they will suddenly find enlightenment?

Despite seeing up close and personal how the UN can rationalize anything, especially its failure to defend those in greatest need of defense, I still believe that we, as Jews, as Israelis, as human beings, have an obligation to continue to make our case and bring truth to the world.

We cannot let their inability to display moral courage, discourage us. We must continue to show the world that we are united, strong, and here to stay. No matter what.

Let it be a lesson to our enemies that we will never back down and never give up. I pray for a quick and safe return of our hostages, our soldiers, and our sense of peace.

About the Author
Paulette Woolf made Aliyah to Netanya in 2016. She was staff in 3 NYC mayoral administrations and manager of an internal management consulting function at the United Nations for 20 years. She is an independent consultant in organizational change management and President of Woolf Strategies.
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