In a move that seemed very likely when Donald Trump was elected president and was cemented when he appointed Nikki Haley as ambassador to the United Nations, the United States withdrew
from the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on Wednesday. The stated reasons for the US decision were the bias against Israel at UNHRC and the fact that some undeniably egregious human rights violators sit on the council. But these explanations become flimsy once you examine them. Read more at LobeLog.
It is very dangerous for policy to be based on alternative facts, and even alternative realities. Whether the policymakers believe the alternative realities or merely weave a fabric of falsehoods to
build political support for their decisions, the danger is just as great.
In Washington this has been the prevailing condition for a long time. The Trump administration’s decision to leave the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is one of the most absurd examples. Read more at LobeLog
Donald Trump gave his first address to the United Nations General Assembly yesterday, and he lived up to his billing. Trump used a forum for diplomacy to threaten to annihilate an entire country, and to denounce an accord preventing another country from obtaining a nuclear weapon. He slammed an ideology that informs, to one degree or another, many countries around the world, including many of America’s closest allies. He effectively declared that the United States doesn’t care about values or human rights in its approach to international affairs. Yet, at the same time, he preached the sanctity of sovereignty while urging regime change in other countries.
That’s a lot to take apart. But let’s focus on what Trump has been threatening since the early days of his campaign: to destroy the Iran nuclear deal (also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA). It’s no surprise that the JCPOA is in jeopardy. Trump famously promised to “tear up” the deal during his campaign for the White House. Although his advisors convinced him that such an action would be unwise, he has been seeking to destroy the deal since long before he took office. Trump has reluctantly certified that Iran is complying with the deal twice already, as he must every 90 days, as mandated by a law Congress passed. Many are concerned he will not do it a third time on October 15. Read more at LobeLog
Israel and the United States have once again turned their fire on the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). At issue this time is the decision by UNESCO’s
World Heritage Committee to recognize the Old City of Hebron as a Palestinian site and to add it as a World Heritage in Danger site.
According to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the UNESCO resolution is “delusional” because it allegedly denies the Jewish connection to Hebron. Indeed, denying such a connection to a city that contains the Tomb of the Patriarchs would be highly offensive to Jews all over the world. The only problem is, UNESCO did no such thing. Read more at LobeLog
On Friday, United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres asked a UN agency to remove a report from its web site that accused Israel of the crime of apartheid. The report has since been removed from the site, although the executive summary is still there. Rima Khalaf, the head of the agency (the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA)) resigned in protest.
The report is certainly explosive. Written by Virginia Tilley and Richard Falk, two scholars who are strong supporters of a single, democratic state in all of Mandatory Palestine (and are generally also seen as anti-Zionist, a label I don’t know if either embraces, but which I doubt would particularly bother either of them), it basically makes the case that not only the occupation, but Israel’s very existence as a Jewish state is incompatible with international law and creates an apartheid regime. No doubt, the Secretary-General, knowing the already hostile environment the UN faces on Capitol Hill and in the White House, did not relish the idea of giving such an enormous boost to that hostility which is already threatening to cut off a major source of UN funding.
I am not going to offer an analysis of the report here. One reason is that while I have read through it, I need to examine it more thoroughly. But I can say a few things about the report.
- I clearly do not agree with many of the report’s conclusions and recommendations, and have issues with some of the methodology as well.
- That being said, the report makes more than a few points that I find either valid or, at the very least, troubling enough that a serious discussion about them is not only warranted, but crucial.
- Disagreeing with the report’s conclusions, methodology, or evidence is not a valid reason to simply mute the report.
- The question of whether any state can be both democratic and also a state of only one ethnic/religious/racial group of people is one that bears on a great many conflicts in the world today, as well as on the very definition of democracy. On that basis alone, it needs to be discussed. In the specific case of Israel, it has obvious and practical ramifications. For those who believe Israel can be a Jewish and democratic state, it must be acknowledged that those two things must necessarily exist in tension. As such, we cannot avoid either an open discussion to figure out how a Jewish democracy works or an open and civilized debate with those who believe it is not possible for state to be both Jewish and democratic.
On Friday, the United Nation Security Council passed Resolution 2334, which calls on Israel to cease building settlements in territories it occupied in 1967. The Obama administration decided to abstain from the vote, allowing it to pass 14-0.
What exactly did UN Security Council Resolution 2334 say?
The resolution, among other things:
Read more at Facts On The Ground, FMEP’s blog