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The sorry spectacle that took place a few days ago merely confirms what the failures of the League of Nations and the U.N. should have taught everybody decades ago–– the lack of any consistent unifying principles, morals, or values has turned the U.N. into a facilitator of aggression and an enabler of appeasement. Worse yet, its procedures and meetings provide aggressors with the opportunity to hide their violent intent behind rhetoric pleasing to the Western nations who are pursuing their own national interests, or are unwilling or unable to punish aggression. Abbas’s speech is a classic example of such rhetorical subterfuge, as in the following statement: “Settlement activities embody the core of the policy of colonial military occupation of the land of the Palestinian people and all of the brutality of aggression and racial discrimination against our people that this policy entails.” The word “colonial” and the phrase “racial discrimination” are literally meaningless in this context, mere verbal triggers for a Western guilt that conveniently rationalizes an unwillingness to exercise moral clarity or even to recognize the facts of history.
What those facts show is that a critical mass of Palestinian Arabs want to destroy Israel more than they want a state. Thus the rhetoric in Abbas’s speech about “the realization of their inalienable national rights in their independent State of Palestine” is for the consumption of Westerners, for that state could have been achieved in 1947, in 2000, or in 2008. The reality of Palestinian intentions is revealed by the maps in their schools that leave out Israel; by Abbas’s dating the “occupation” to 1947 rather than 1967; by the refusal to acknowledge Israel as a Jewish state; by the non-negotiable demand that millions of “refugees” be allowed back into Israel as a demographic WMD; and by the clear record of every Israeli concession being met with more terrorist violence. Yes, the Palestinians want their own state, but only one conditioned on the eventual disappearance of Israel.
Indeed, like speeches and resolutions in the U.N., terrorist violence has always been a Palestinian tactic in service to the strategic goal of destroying Israel, a tactic by the way that repudiates the U.N.’s goal “to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war,” as its Charter has it. And given that the U.N. itself has legitimized terrorism, we should not be surprised that Palestinians are not shy about threatening violence, as when Nabeel Shaath, a senior adviser to Abbas, said that going to the U.N. is the “only alternative to violence.” Sadder still, Western leaders have internalized this tactic. French President Nicolas Sarkozy, for example, warned the U.S. about vetoing the Palestinian bid for statehood in the Security Council by asking, “Who could doubt that a veto at the Security Council risks engendering a cycle of violence in the Middle East?” As Alan Dershowitz documents in his book Why Terrorism Works, Palestinian terrorism has been rewarded for decades, particularly in the U.N., so much so that today Western leaders feel no shame at basing foreign policy not on principle and morality, but on the fear of violence.
Rather than replacing force with negotiation and international law, the U.N. has enabled and legitimized violent tyrants and aggressors, and given cover to those states that cannot or will not act to uphold their own principles, let alone those of U.N. itself. It’s time to acknowledge that the Kantian dream of a “federation of free states” joined in a “pacific alliance” that would “for ever terminate all wars” has been a chimera. Moral clarity, not the cynical diplomatic rituals of the U.N., should guide U.S. foreign policy.
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