On the same day as Palestinians torched a site containing Joseph’s Tomb in the Palestinian Authority-controlled West Bank city of Nablus, the United Nations Security Council held an “emergency” session to address the escalating violence in Jerusalem and the West Bank. The October 16th meeting was called by Jordan, a non-permanent member of the Security Council. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has expressed his willingness to meet with the Palestinian leadership and resume peace talks immediately without preconditions, in order to bring calm to the region. The Palestinian leadership’s response was to have Jordan act as their promoter-in-chief and call on the Security Council to hold the “emergency” meeting for the purpose essentially of condemning Israel and rationalizing the Palestinian violence spree.
Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, knew what to expect. Before the Security Council meeting commenced, Ambassador Danon told reporters that “we don’t need another general meeting about the situation in the Middle East. What we do need is for this council to convene a meeting on the dangerous incitement led by President Abbas.” The ambassador lamented that “Israelis are being stabbed, Bombed, Run-over and stoned, yet this council remains silent.”
In his briefing to the Security Council, Mr. Tayé-Brook Zerihoun, Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs, did at least condemn the attack on Joseph’s Tomb. But then he tried to explain away the wave of Palestinian violence in general as stemming from the “persistence of the occupation and the diminishing prospects of achieving Palestinian aspirations for statehood.” He also threw in the “continued and expanding settlement activities” as contributing “to the anger and frustration driving the violence we are seeing today.” Finally, he added the widespread unfounded fears in the Muslim world that “Israel is aiming to change the status quo at the holy sites.”
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein also blamed the escalating tension on various Israeli actions, including “the ongoing settlement expansion” and “recent restrictions imposed by the Israeli authorities on Palestinian worshippers wishing to access the Al-Aqsa compound.”
UN senior officials are not only silent in the face of the daily Palestinians’ murderous rampage against innocent Israelis. They are offering pathetic rationalizations for the violence, which in actuality is fueled by hate spread by Palestinian social media and taught to Palestinian children in their schools and in the TV programs they watch.
“Palestinian leaders have established an incubator to raise children as terrorists,” Israeli UN Ambassador Danon said. During his remarks to reporters, he held up a picture providing children a graphic pictorial demonstration on how to stab a Jew. “We talk about a lot about incitement- here you see what Palestinian incitement looks like. This picture is what is being taught in middle schools,” he said.
Mr. Zerihoun, the UN Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs, acknowledged the “impact of social media and irresponsible rhetoric” in playing “a dramatic role in escalation.” However, he disgracefully indulged in the UN’s typical moral equivalence narrative, saying that “both sides have much to be blamed for.” He failed to reference the incontrovertible evidence that the abuse of social media and irresponsible rhetoric to incite violence are coming almost exclusively from the Palestinian side, not the Israeli side. Then again, he is in synch with President Obama, whom last week called on both sides “to try to tamp down rhetoric that may feed violence or anger or misunderstanding.” Yet more of the moral equivalence fiction.
You wouldn’t know it from listening to UN senior officials or the UN’s booster President Obama, but there is disturbing evidence that personnel working at the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) are themselves guilty of feeding Palestinian violence with incendiary rhetoric. UN Watch has issued a report, which it sent to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and UNRWA chief Pierre Krähenbühl, compiling examples of hate-filled social media posts by individuals claiming to work for UNRWA. Here is a sampling from the UN Watch report:
1: “Stab Zionist Dogs” – caption to a cartoon posted by self-describe d “Projects Support Assistant at UNRWA”
2. Video demonstrating use of guns, knives and Molotov cocktails – posted by individual who said he “works at UNRWA”
3. Video of “mosque sermon in which Sheikh Abu Rajab pulled out a knife and, with violent stabbing motions, exhorted Palestinians to murder Jews in the name of Islam” – posted by self-described “teacher at UNRWA”
4. “Mohammed Assaf, UNRWA’s ‘Youth Ambassador’ and most famous personality — an ‘Arab Idol’ winner who is a key fundraiser and face of the organization, appointed by UNRWA’s Commissioner-General — has been using his UN imprimatur to glorify violence throughout his Facebook timeline” including display of “three Palestinian youths who attacked Israeli Jews.” The Palestinians are referred to as “shahid,” which means martyrs.
Last Friday, at the UN headquarters daily press briefing in New York, I asked the Deputy Spokesman for the Secretary General whether there will be an investigation of claims that UNRWA personnel are themselves contributing to the very incendiary rhetoric that other UN officials condemn. He responded that “it remains to be seen whether these were, in fact, personnel of the UN Relief and Works Agency.” He added that “any time there is any complaint about activities, including Twitter posts or retweets by its staff, it does look into that and it will look into any allegations to see whether they are accurate and to take the appropriate follow-up.”
UN Watch, which had submitted the report with documentation, called this response “absurd.” As Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, explained:
“Regrettably we seem to be witnessing the same UN strategy of delay and denial that characterized their response last month when we reported 12 other UNRWA officials engaged in antisemitic incitement.”
UNRWA’s previous promises to investigate and take action against UNRWA employees who incite violence have gone by the wayside. Last year three UNRWA schools were found, during the course of the conflict in Gaza, to have been used for storage of rockets for Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Yet UNRWA continues to operate with impunity while receiving over $400 million annually - the largest financial contribution of any donor - from the Obama administration.
Israel has every right to use whatever means of restraint it deems necessary to protect its own civilians from such harm. Indeed, that is the first obligation of any responsible state – to defend its own citizens. Yet vacuous phrases such as “collective punishment” and “violations of international law” are thrown at Israel for trying to contain the violence instigated by Palestinian sociopaths. Is it any wonder that Israel wisely says “thanks but no thanks” to the idea proposed by the Palestinians and advanced at the UN of introducing an “international” force at the holy sites in Jerusalem? It would become yet another arm of the Palestinians against Israeli Jews, much like UNRWA.