US joins pileup on Israel 

At the United Nations, a lynch mob for Israel is always just a moment away. The Islamic countries are a reliable source of venom, led by the Arab bloc. What we used to call the “nonaligned” are all aligned against Israel and happy to join the fun. And the Europeans can be counted on for hand-wringing rather than staunch resistance.

Only the United States, and a few brave allies like Canada and Australia, can be counted on to oppose diplomatic lynchings year after year, and only the U.S. can stop them in the U.N. Security Council.

In the American government, it’s never the State Department bureaucracy that wishes to brave the endless assaults at the U.N. Normally, the resistance comes not from the various regional bureaus or from the International Organizations bureau — where Israel is so often viewed as a giant pain — but from the White House and sometimes (i.e., George Shultz) the secretary of state.

This week, the mob formed again, instantly, after the Gaza flotilla disaster, reinforced this time by the leadership of Turkey, whose language at the U.N. was more vicious than that used by the Arabs. As usual, there was really only one question once the mob began to gather: Would the U.S., in Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s memorable phrase, “join the jackals”?

This week, the Obama administration answered the question: Yes we would, and Israel would stand alone. It’s simple to block the kind of attack issued as a “president’s statement” on behalf of the Security Council, for such a statement requires unanimity. The U.S. can just say no and make it clear that orders have come from the White House and will not be changed. 

Then, negotiations begin on a serious statement — or there can be no statement at all. The killing of dozens of South Korean sailors by North Korea is an action that truly threatens the peace, but it didn’t evoke the kind of action the Security Council took against Israel, proving that the U.N. does not always act, or act in the same way, when news flashes hit. Whether Israel is slammed depends on whether the U.S. is willing to take a stand.

On the Gaza flotilla, the Obama administration waffled and straddled. It agreed to a statement in which the U.N. condemned the “acts” that led to the loss of lives, but did not say, “We condemn Israel.” Presumably, the White House congratulated itself on this elision, but no one is fooled: The world media keeps repeating that the Security Council condemned Israel, and in this case it’s hard to argue. Yet, it would have been simple to stop the mob had the White House wanted to. 

The facts were not in then, and indeed they’re still not in. The videos suggest that dozens of people (all Turks, it appears, but that too is not fully clear) on the boats were armed and dangerous. Reports are circulating here that some of those “peace activists” had gas masks and night-vision devices, carried no identification papers, wore bulletproof vests and carried large amounts of cash.

The background, the Hamas coup in Gaza and more than 3,000 rockets into Israel from Gaza is clear. The fact that Egypt has for three years (until the pressure mounted this week) refused to open its border to Gaza is understood at the U.N. So the material was at hand to block the lynch mob and say we would accept only a statement that mourned the loss of lives.

No doubt the administration will claim it avoided a worse result, a Security Council resolution condemning Israel. To which the answer is, “Not good enough.” The U.S. has the power to block all anti-Israel moves in the Security Council, not just some of them, and to do so without agreeing to unfair, damaging compromises.

Elliott Abrams is a senior fellow for Middle East studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. This article is excerpted from The Weekly Standard.

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