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U.N.’s pastime: Bashing Israel

JULIAN SCHVINDLERMAN

Jewish delegates were forbidden to attend a U.N. meeting.

JERUSALEM — When the United Nations was established in 1945, it had 51 member states; today it has 189. This dramatic membership increase is the result of a process of decolonization that began in the 1950s and led to the emergence of new nations. This development created a quantitative and qualitative change within the United Nations, in that it allowed many es- sentially nondemocratic regimes to become full-fledged members.

An organization that was founded basically by Western nations thereby evolved into a Third World forum, leading to the peculiar situation in which underdeveloped and autarchic nations relegated the founding, mostly democratic countries to minority status.

These nations of the Third World then gathered themselves within the framework of different regional blocs (such as the Non-Aligned Movement and the Arab-Muslim bloc, among others), which produced the phenomenon commonly known as the “tyranny of the automatic majority.” Achieving influence through these regional blocs, the Third World countries gained more representation in the U.N. departments, committees, divisions and agencies, which in turn allowed them to set both the agenda and the tone of U.N. deliberations.

This may explain a few things:

  •  Why the Palestine Liberation Organization, which committed more than 11,500 terror attacks over a span of more than 30 years, was never condemned by any U.N. body.

  •  Why anti-Semitism was recognized as a form of racism by this international institution just eight years ago.

  •  Why Israel, and only Israel, was defined by the United Nations as a “non-peace loving state.”

  •  Why the national liberation movement of the Jewish people was the only such movement in the world ever to be equated with racism.

    This situation at times has been so ludicrous that some Israelis have taken it with a grain of humor. Commentator David Bar-Illan once remarked that “a visitor from another planet should be pardoned for assuming that the organization was established with the sole purpose of bashing Israel.”

    When Zionism was called “hegemonism” in 1979 (it seems that the 1975 comparison with “racism” had not sufficed), Israeli Ambassador Yehuda Blum, aware of the exploits of the “automatic majority,” pointed out that the United Nations could have compared Zionism with vegetarianism, rheumatism or any other “ism” for that matter.

    Former Foreign Minister Abba Ebban once famously observed that, upon command of the Arab nations, the United Nations would adopt a resolution claiming that the Earth is flat.

    This background should serve as an introductory remark to the upcoming World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance (to be held in Durban, South Africa, from Aug. 31 to Sept. 7), whose final preparatory conference will take place on Monday in Geneva. If the latest draft of its Declaration and Programme of Action remains unaltered, we will witness yet another Arab-Muslim hijacking of a U.N. forum, the politicization of an important conference and the abuse of that conference’s agenda.

    To begin with, the most recent preparatory conference took place in Teheran, where Jewish, Israeli and Bahai delegates were forbidden to attend — this, at a conference dealing with “related intolerance.”

    Israel also is the only country condemned by name in the 70 pages of the above-mentioned draft text pertaining to a conference addressing “discrimination.” And almost fittingly, Arab and Muslim states have inserted unabashedly racist language in a conference dealing with “racism.”

    As U.N. Watch, a Geneva-based nongovernmental organization monitoring the U.N. performance by the yardstick of its charter, has observed, the most disquieting developments taking place are:

  •  An attempt to resurrect the “Zionism = Racism” resolution.

  •  An attempt to redefine anti-Semitism as bigotry against the Arabs by making references to “Zionist practices against Semitism.”

  •  An attempt to minimize the Holocaust, by writing the term in lowercase; to universalize it, by speaking of plural “holocausts”; and to trivialize it, by pairing it with “the ethnic cleansing of the Arab population in historic Palestine.”

    In 1998, U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan denounced the infamous 1975 Zionism is Racism resolution, calling it “unfortunate” and “the lowest point in the [U.N.-Israel] relationship.” If that resolution alone marked the nadir of U.N.-Israel relations, one wonders how Annan would define the diplomatic atrocities persisting, even today, under U.N. auspices.

    Although some future statement 23 years from now condemning the final declaration of this upcoming circus conference might be welcome, the time for action is now.

    Julián Schvindlerman is a political analyst and journalist in Jerusalem.

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