At a recent presentation by Palestinian human rights activist Bassem Eid, he was asked to name the key obstacles to peace between the Palestinians and Israelis. He replied by citing two institutions; UNWRA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency) and the U.N. (United Nations). New research by both Professor Eugene Kontorovich of the international law department at the Kohelet Policy Forum, and Penny Grunseid, a researcher, support Bassem Eid’s assertion, pointing out the double standard and gross bias in the treatment of Israel at the U.N.
In Israel, all governments and the public in general have been in agreement about one thing, the UN’s anti-Israel bias. Early on in the Jewish state’s history, its first Prime Minister David Ben Gurion called the U.N. “um Shmum,” a derogatory term meant to denounce its lack of fairness and objectivity. In addition to being the “dumped on” scapegoat by all U.N. agencies, Israel is the only U.N. member-state never to have been elected to the U.N. Security Council.
Professor Kontorovich’s research confirms the U.N. obsession with Israel. In a Wall Street Journal opinion piece (September 14, 2016), Kontorovich and Grunseid point out that “Israel is referred to as the ‘occupying power’ 530 times in U. N. General Assembly (UNGA) resolutions. Yet, in seven major instances of past or present prolonged military occupation – Indonesia in East Timor, Turkey in northern Cyprus, Russia in areas of Georgia, Morocco in western Sahara, Vietnam in Cambodia, Armenia in Azerbaijan, and Russia in Ukraine’s Crimea - the number is zero. The UNGA has not called any of these countries an “occupying power.’ Not even once.”
According to the research study, since 1967, “General Assembly (GA) resolutions have referred to Israeli-held territories as ‘occupied’ 2,342 times, while the territories mentioned above are referred to as ‘occupied’ a mere 16 times combined. The term appears in 90% of resolutions dealing with Israel, and only in 14% of the much smaller number of resolutions dealing with all the other situations. Similarly, U.N. Security Council (UNSC) resolutions refer to the disputed territories (Judea and Samaria) in the Arab-Israeli conflict as ‘occupied’ 31 times, but only a total of five to all seven other conflicts combined.”
Shai ben-Tekoa, author of Phantom Nation: Inventing the “Palestinians” as the Obstacle to Peace, asserted that in categorizing 870 UNSC and GA resolutions on Israel since the U.N.’s founding in 1945 (through 1989), forty-two percent were neutral, while of the remaining fifty-eight percent, 96% criticized Israel, leaving 4% critical of an Arab state or states. The Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) was never criticized.
In the mid-1970’s, the Arab/Muslim and Soviet Bloc joined together to form a pro-PLO lobby at the U.N. At the time, a joke went around that said “if an Arab state brought a resolution to the U.N. that the earth was flat, it would receive the majority vote at the General Assembly.” The assemblage of Arab dictatorships, Third World autocracies, and Soviet Bloc authoritarian regimes passed resolutions attacking Israel and supporting the PLO, a terrorist organization with the blood of innocent civilians on its hands.
In 1974, the UNGA invited Yasser Arafat to address the body. Arafat gave his address while carrying a gun and an olive branch (for theatrics). A year later, the UNGA awarded permanent representative status to the PLO. The same year, at the instigation of the Arab/Muslim and Soviet Bloc, the UNGA approved Resolution 3379, which considered Zionism a form of racism. U.S. ambassador Daniel Patrick Moynihan called the resolution an “obscene act,” while Israel’s ambassador at the time, Chaim Herzog, chided his fellow delegates, and told them that the resolution was based on hatred, falsehood and ignorance. “Hitler,” he declared “would have felt at home listening to the U.N. debate on the measure.”
Sixteen years later, in December, 1991, UNGA repealed the shameful resolution 3379 by a vote of 111-25. The Arab states nevertheless abstained or voted against the repeal, and the PLO condemned it.
In 1977, the U.S. withdrew from the International Labor Organization for two years because of its anti-Israel stance. The Reagan administration in 1984 left UNESCO, in part because of its bias against the Jewish State. In April, 2016, UNESCO once again adopted a resolution called “occupied Palestine.” The title revealed its clear bias, but then again, all texts adopted by UNESCO concerning the Middle East carry an anti-Israel bias. The April, 2016 UNESCO resolution was, in the words of Guy Milliere, “poisonous, fraudulent resolution is not only biased: it is negationist. It eliminates all traces of Jewish presence in Jerusalem and Judea in ancient times at a stroke of a pen.”
In January, 2006, U.S. ambassador John Bolton sent a sharply worded letter to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, threatening to cut funding to the U.N. if it continues to promote anti-Israel events. It came in response to the previous November 29th event celebrating the annual “International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.” The event was attend by Annan and other diplomats. A map that “erased Israel” was disclosed by Ambassador Bolton.
In March, 2013, the U.S. sent a letter to the president of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in which the U.S. lamented what they saw as blatant anti-Israel bias within the council. The letter by U.S. ambassador Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe stated, “The legitimacy of this Council will remain in question as long as one country is unfairly and uniquely singled out under its own agenda item. The absurdity and hypocrisy of this agenda item is further amplified by the resolutions brought under it including, yet again, a resolution on the ‘human rights in the occupied Syrian Golan’ motivated by the Syrian regime, at a time when that regime is murdering its own citizens by the tens of thousands (now hundreds of thousands-JP).”
The above cited examples are only a fraction of the anti-Israel biased resolutions by the U.N. In his research, Professor Kontorovich also addressed the term “settlements.” In his new article titled Unsettled: A Global Study of Settlements in Occupied Territories, Professor Kontorovich shows that settlements by other states far “eclipse Israel’s.” Yet, the term “settlements” by the U.N. only applies to Israeli civilian communities in Judea and Samaria. It has been applied to Israel 256 times in the UNGA and 17 times in the UNSC. Neither body has ever used the word in relation to any other country with settlers in occupied territory.
Professor Kontorovich’s research clearly reveals that the U.N. practices a double standard. It also negates the assertion by the U.N. that it represents global justice, a claim that has no basis in reality. The U.N. has in fact done little to prevent wars, end hunger, or pursue justice - not in Syria, Darfur, Bosnia or Rwanda. It has been caught in corruption schemes, and it has fostered anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism. The same U.N. has no interest in resolving conflicts, especially the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, rather, as Bassem Eid said, “it perpetuates it, because it stands to gain from it.” The U.N. is prone to get involved only when it can blame Israel.
In conclusion, Professor Kontorovich writes, “At a time of serious global crises - from a disintegrating Middle East to a land war and belligerent occupation in Europe - the leaders of the free world cannot afford to tempt the U.N. into indulging its obsessions with Israel. Especially when the apparent consequence of such scapegoating (of Israel) is that the U.N. ignores other situations and people in desperate need of attention.”