Egypt, Bahrain and Yemen are in turmoil. In Libya, Moammar Gadhafi is using mercenaries to slaughter peaceful protestors. Hezbollah is staging a slow-motion coup in Lebanon. Iran’s rulers are executing dissidents daily, developing nuclear weapons and sending warships through Suez. The response of the United Nations to these many threats to global peace and security? Condemn Israel! Is there anything else the U.N. does as often or as well?
Here’s how it went down this time: At the urging of Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, temporary Security Council member Lebanon — a nation, as noted, increasingly ruled by Hezbollah, the Iranian-funded terrorist group that in 1983 murdered 241 American servicemen in Beirut — sponsored a resolution condemning Israel for constructing “illegal settlements.”
In other words, the issue that the U.N. considers most critical at this pivotal moment is that Israelis have been building homes on land the Palestinians want and might be able to have if they were prepared to negotiate a peace treaty with Israelis.
Last week, 110 members of Congress sent a letter to the Obama administration asking that it veto this latest attempt to delegitimize Israel, a democratic ally that has taken serious steps “to bring peace to the region.” Those steps included a 10-month moratorium on new housing in the West Bank, which Israelis hoped would bring Palestinians back to the negotiating table. But why should Palestinians negotiate if they can get the U.N. to force Israel to make concessions in exchange for nothing?
In the end, and to its credit, the Obama administration did veto the resolution. But U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice did not even attempt to suggest how hypocritical, counterproductive and just plain deranged it is for the U.N. to ignore the crimes being committed by Islamist terrorists and Arab despots while demanding that Israelis surrender territory taken in a defensive war to those who remain committed to their extermination.
Instead, Rice conceded that the U.S. agrees “about the folly and illegitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity,” adding that the resolution was nevertheless “unwise.” A more honest and courageous U.S. ambassador to the U.N. — John Bolton, Jeane Kirkpatrick and Daniel Moynihan spring to mind — would have stated clearly that this resolution is a shameful attempt to deflect attention from real crises while enhancing Abbas’ position within the Arab and Muslim worlds. He can take America’s money and spit in America’s eye? What a guy!
The Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, Hezbollah and the theocratic rulers of Iran have been candid: Creation of a Palestinian state is a secondary goal. Their primary objective is the “cleansing” of the world’s only Jewish state from the “Muslim Middle East.” No serious person can still believe the core issue is housing in the West Bank — also known as Judea and Samaria — territories that have never been part of a Palestinian state because there has never been a Palestinian state — territories occupied by Jordan from 1949 until 1967 when Jordan, Egypt and other Arab nations launched a conventional war intended to wipe Israel off the map.
Were Arab and Muslim nations willing to tolerate Israel’s existence — not love Israelis, just tolerate them — negotiating borders would be a piece of cake. In the absence of such tolerance it would be a mistake for Israel to surrender another square inch of soil, as its earlier withdrawals from southern Lebanon, where Hezbollah has installed thousand of missiles under the noses of U.N. “peacekeepers,” and Gaza, from which thousands of missiles have been launched at Israeli villages, have demonstrated to all but the delusional, a substantial percentage of the international foreign policy community.
Israel also turned over the Sinai to Egypt in return for a peace treaty signed by Egyptian President Anwar Sadat. His assassination at the hands of a Muslim Brotherhood splinter group soon followed. Three decades later that peace treaty may be scrapped by whichever government comes to power in Egypt in the days ahead. That does not imply that another war with Egypt is imminent. It does imply that Israel cannot depend for its survival on pieces of paper signed by dictators. How often do free peoples need to be taught that lesson?
Clifford D. May is the president of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, a policy institute focusing on terrorism.