In the coming days, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) will receive and publish the findings from the Independent Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza Conflict. It is expected to be ‘at best’, highly critical of Israel.
I was an 10 year old boy when the UN passed a General Assembly resolution ruling that ‘Zionism is racism’. For those that have the time, a read through the official record of the session in preparation of the vote makes illuminating if somewhat lengthy reading. It highlights the futility of a rational, moderate stance at the United Nations; with nations such as Belgium, the UK & New Zealand losing out to the progressive ‘democratic’ will of Kuwait, Iraq and Saudi Arabia. The resolution was finally revoked in 1991, in General Assembly Resolution 46/86; not because the UN had finally seen the error of its ways, but because Israel made it a condition of its participation in the Madrid Conference. Say what you like about Yitzhak Shamir, he knew how to fight Israel’s corner.
We are now 40 years since that original resolution was passed and the United Nations have seemingly spent much of their time working on the assumption that the resolution was never revoked; hardly surprising perhaps, given that it had spent the 26 years prior to 1975 working on the premise that the resolution already existed. If you take away the underlying assumption that ‘Zionism is racism’, UN resolutions against Israel make no sense.
I have no intention of listing all the resolutions condemning Israel nor of dealing with the mind-numbing statistics proving the UN-Israel obsession; nor even of pointing out the perpetual bias; this particular feat already been done numerous times in the past and by many far more talented writers. Proving UN bias against Israel is as worthy and difficult a challenge in 2015 as spending your time investigating the possibility that gravity exists.
What matters is that people who should know better take its resolutions, reports and decisions seriously. The UN can be no more than the sum of its parts and through weight of numbers it has effectively shaped itself into an outlet for despots. For a nation like Israel, the UN is an conglomerate of the world’s most despicable regimes dressed as an angel of peace. It is Saddam Hussein in a Mother Teresa costume.
FIFA, and yes, I just mentioned FIFA in an a piece on the UN, is a corrupt and reviled entity sitting atop of world football; an entity rightly being torn apart by criminal investigations; but how is the UN different? The UN is everything that FIFA is, only worse, mirroring FIFA’s demise as it became overrun by corrupt regimes that infiltrated every corner of its machinery. Each of these nations, using the UN only to increase their own legitimacy, push their own prejudice and line their own pockets.
And now we await yet another report that has focused on Israel, a report that will be referenced by terrorists, despots, the BDS movement and Islamic fundamentalists. Islamic terrorists using the United Nations as a hammer with which to attack the only democratic society in the Middle East. All sanctioned by the UN Human Rights Council.
The UNHRC was created to replace the discredited UNCHR in 2006. One of the UNCHR’s last acts was to accept Sudan onto the commission, just as the war in Darfur was at it’s peak. The replacement body seems to be no better, with UN Watch recently condemning the 2014 elections of Saudi Arabia, China, Cuba, and Russia to the Human Rights Council where they join the previously elected Qatar. The UNHRC can only reflect the membership of the UN and the product of these bodies, such as the upcoming report on Israel’s actions during the 2014 Gaza conflict, can be little more than a projection of the organisations inherent prejudice and political outlook.
You cannot hold Israeli actions up to a microscope not used for *any other* nation at *any other* time in history and then wax lyrical about how Israel is somehow worse or acting in a way others haven’t. You cannot justify holding Israeli actions up to any investigation at all if you are nations such as China or Saudi Arabia. This isn’t a whitewash, this is about redressing the balance. About the simple suggestion Israel should be treated just like every other nation is.
As worthwhile as the aims of a body representing all the nations may be, and as productive as the UN can become when circumstances and politics allow, it would be wrong to suggest that the weaknesses at the UN do not carry grave consequences at considerable human cost.
The Palestinian refugee issue should have been resolved in the early 1950’s. As Israel accommodated nearly 1 million Jewish refugees either expelled from or fleeing persecution from Arab lands, it was clearly incumbent on the United Nations to attempt to solve the Palestinian side of the refugee crisis. They chose not to. Cowed and then led by the Arab aggression and rejectionist policy towards Israel and cornered by the Cold War, the UN became the single most active player in sustaining a needless suffering that has existed for 66 years. They created a Palestinian refugee specific entity (UNWRA) with the sole purpose of maintaining rather than solving the problem. Never before has an agency been created specifically and deliberately *not to solve* a refugee problem. Once caught in a paradigm of their own creation, the UN chose to perpetuate the deceit and continue the suffering; rather than face the truth about the result of their own failings, Israel became the UN’s scapegoat.
Historically, refugees invariably arise from civil war conflict and often occur from conflict generally. The UNHCR (Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) website suggests there are 3 durable options to a refugee problem:
“There are three solutions open to refugees where UNHCR can help: voluntary repatriation; local integration; or resettlement to a third country in situations where it is impossible for a person to go back home or remain in the host country. UNHCR helps achieve one or other of these durable solutions for refugees around the world every year.”
India, Pakistan & Bangladesh are a classic example of a contemporary population exchange. Over 14 million displaced and crossed borders during partition. There was no talk there of creating an agency to prolong the suffering. WW1, WW2, The current Middle East, Africa, Asia, wherever you care to look over the past 100 years, massive refugee issues have been settled, with tens of millions resettling or moving to a 3rd country. It is what refugees have always done. The Palestinian refugee crisis was a choice.
UNRWA alone currently costs $1 billion a year and international donors continue to support other agencies connected to the Palestinian refugees. The Palestinian refugee situation is an industry that feeds off itself and has no cure; an addiction that does not seek a solution. Instead of utilising the tens of billions of Dollars in helping victims move forward, the United Nations made a deliberate choice to use the funds to perpetuate the suffering; and in doing so created a major stumbling block towards a comprehensive peace settlement between Israel and the residents of Gaza and the West Bank.
- UNWRA is the only agency dedicated to helping refugees from a specific region or conflict and is separate from UNHCR.
- UNWRA is the only agency to create a specific definition for refugees by creating a special ‘citizenship’ that allows for the status to be passed through the generations.
- UNWRA is an agency that created absurdity by defining a refugee as “a persons whose normal place of residence was Palestine during the period 1 June 1946 to 15 May 1948.” This allows today for the descendant of a 1946 economic migrant to claim he is a Palestinian whose land was forcibly removed from him by the arrival of people who lived in Palestine decades before his parents turned up looking for work.
- UNWRA are the only refugee organisation in history to have a mandate to perpetuate refugee status.
People lived in Palestine and the land wasn’t empty; that is a truth. But it is also true that the land was under-populated. There are too many records, too many contemporary observations that mention Palestine’s desolation for it to be ignored. The Ottoman head-counts followed by British census do provide time-stamped snapshots of population centres in the area. There have been attempts to academically approach the subject, but the sheer weight of possible scenarios make such an endeavour fraught with difficulty. Research such as From Time Immemorial by Joan Peters, posited massive Arab migration but the book was then torn apart by those such as Norman Finkelstien who labelled the entire work “a fraud”.
But just because there were mistakes and even bias within Peters’ research, does not mean that the central theory is false. There are, undoubtedly reliable documents that show migration of Arabs into Palestine due to the upswing in economic activity. It is a subject far too wide to be handled in a simple blog, but evidence indicating the migratory nature of the region, for example through the reference to around 30,000 Syrians crossing the border, British Mandate reports mentioning Arab immigration, the 1930 Hope Simpson report and numerous other sources is overwhelming. They suggest that Zionism was a victim of its own success, and as the Jews in Palestine began to develop new cities and new infrastructure, the regional population reacted as they always do in such circumstance, they navigate towards the new opportunities. In fact, to suggest otherwise would be illogical. Why would British Palestine be the first place on earth that would witness a massive surge in economic activity that didn’t result in regional populations migrating towards it?
So we know that some, however many, of the Palestinians who have lived in Palestine ‘for eternity’, actually arrived in 1930, 1936, 1920, 1905, 1893 and so on. These people arrived as a direct result of the emergence of British control, arrival of Jewish Immigration and numerous other unknown influences; and here exists a deep and viscous racism. A racism propagated by the Arab nations and accepted and furthered by the United Nations. A Jewish family in Palestine, regardless of its history, is to be treated as a settler, whilst an Arab, regardless of his history, is to be treated as the true owner of the land and compensated for everything that has occurred. This vile, racist position, is the official UN stance on Palestine and directs every statement the UN make on the questions regarding the conflict. A Jew who’s family may have resided in Palestine for hundreds of years is to give priority to an Arab family who may have arrived in January 1946. How is that not racist? The United Nations do not want to work with the truth, they regurgitate the extremist Arab position as they have done since 1949 and the world swallows it.
THE DESPOTISM AND THE HYPOCRISY
All nations are not equal. The British or American voice, as representative of the will of their populations can not be equated to what Assad and Kim Il-Sung think. It is neither racist nor bigoted to support the democratic nations over the whims of a dictator and it is self defeating to pretend the voice of the dictator is relevant to the conversation. Appointing some of the world’s gravest human rights violators to the UN body dealing with Human Rights is an affront to every refugee, to every victim on the planet. Allowing nations that have no real rights for women to rule on women’s rights is an insult to every female that breaths. It is not something to be accepted as a norm but something to be opposed and rejected for the hypocrisy that it is.
The recent report by people with deep military or political experience suggests Israel ‘significantly exceeded the international standard’ required by them. This report, put together by those representing a world in which people are free, is the one worth reading. Nations such as Saudi Arabia should be allowed at the head table only when they have earned the right to do so. Until then, what they say, what they think and what they believe, isn’t of much import at all.
The United Nations needs to open a commission to investigate UNRWA. It needs to analyse the entire UN archive of documents of the conflict, putting together piece by piece how it allowed such a situation to fester. It needs to look long and hard at the human cost in the refugee camps in Lebanon and Syria that its own policies have created. It needs to look at the people it has sacrificed as it acted as an outlet for the prejudice and hate of nations such as Iraq, Syria and Libya. It needs to look at the cost, the racism, the despotism and the hypocrisy. The UN then needs to call an emergency meeting of the UN General Assembly and make the single most important resolution regarding the conflict since 1947. It needs to condemn itself. Then perhaps we can move forward.