Dore Gold’s book Tower of Babble focuses on the functioning of the United Nations. Its subtitle is How the United Nations Has Fueled Global Chaos. The book’s final paragraph reads:
This deficiency in the UN is hard for many to admit. The UN is protected by a very high wall of political correctness that makes criticism of it tantamount to an attack on all of mankind. But it is time to recognize that it has utterly failed to achieve its founders’ goals: to halt aggression and assure world order. With determined leadership, the United States can lead its allies in creating a safer and freer world. Perhaps in the long term they can reinvigorate the UN and make the organization’s system of collective security a viable option. But that day is a long way off.1
More than fifty years ago Ben-Gurion called the United Nations “the theater of the absurd.” Since then the organization has largely proved that this is true. Its attitude toward Israel is one of the best indicators of this.
One rather typical example occurred after the Protective Edge campaign at the October 2014 meeting of the Cairo Conference on Palestine. This gathering had the goal of amassing financial commitments to rebuild Gaza. UN Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon spoke there a number of times. In one statement he said, “Yet we must not lose sight of the root causes of the recent hostilities: a restrictive occupation that has lasted almost half a century, the continued denial of Palestinian rights and the lack of tangible progress in peace negotiations.”2
Not a word was said about the rockets aimed at Israeli civilian centers by Hamas or its advanced network of terror tunnels used to plan an attack on Israeli civilians as the main root causes of the conflict. Ban Ki-moon also said nothing about the fact that Hamas aims to commit genocide against Israel. By ignoring this, Ban Ki-moon shows his indirect support for this Palestinian terrorist movement.
In 2004, Cotler summarized the UN’s attitude toward Israel: “The United Nations is singling out Israel and the Jewish people for differential and discriminatory treatment in the international arena. It purports to protect international human rights, but instead gives anti-Jewishness a protective cover.”
A similar attitude can be found in the resolutions of the United Nations’ specialized agencies such as the International Labor Organization (ILO), the World Health Organization (WHO), UNESCO, etc. The ILO holds Israel to be the enemy of labor, claiming it suppresses Palestinian trade unionism. The WHO considers Israel the enemy of health, arguing it violates the health of Palestinian inhabitants. UNESCO accuses Israel of being the enemy of culture because of alleged desecration of historic sites. Elsewhere Israel is charged with being the enemy of women and children because of its supposed suppression of Palestinian women and children, and Israel is the only country which has been declared a “non-peace loving nation.”
Cotler called the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) a “cor- rupted dimension of the United Nations.” He said, “This institution is supposed to work for the relief of refugees. Under its supervision and management, the refugee camps became part of the culture of incitement as well as bomb factories.”3
Ten years later during Israel’s Operation Protective Edge in July 2014, UNRWA had to admit that it discovered rockets on the premises of its Gaza schools.4
The Leading Global Purveyor of Anti-Semitism
The United Nations is both an anti-Israeli player and an important conduit of the new anti-Semitism. Extreme attacks on Israel are a regular feature of its gatherings. Anne Bayefsky, senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, has made major contributions to analyzing the methodology of the anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic forces at this supranational body and its affiliated organizations. At the first UN Conference on Anti-Semitism in New York in June 2004, Bayefsky asserted, “The United Nations has become the leading global purveyor of anti-Semitism—intolerance and inequality against the Jewish people and its state.”5 “The UN also encourages terrorism directed at Israelis.”6 Her writings frequently contrast the EU’s strong support for condemnations of Israel with
its rather negligent attitude toward anti-Semitism at the UN.
Assessing the UN’s anti-Israeli methodology, Bayefsky said that the organization “delegitimizes the self-determination of the Jewish people, denies Israel the right to defend itself and demonizes it in the framework of the international regime of human rights protection.”
Bayefsky summarizes her view: “The evil of anti-Semitism today moves through its UN host like an opportunistic pathogen. First, discrimination of Israel followed by its demonization; the deification of the enemies of the Jewish state; the denial of Jewish victimhood; denunciation of the Israeli who fights back; and finally, the refusal to identify the assailants.”7
Europe and the United Nations
One strong gauge of Europe’s negative political attitude toward Israel is its voting record in the United Nations. These democracies express biased judgments about another democracy. The argument that Israel’s attitude toward the Palestinians is responsible for the conflict is easily refuted. After the 1993 Oslo agreements, Europe’s voting pattern at the UN did not change.8
Dore Gold, former Israeli ambassador to the UN, notes many aspects of consistent European anti-Israeli bias in various institutions of the UN. In condemning Israel, Europe has frequently sided with the world’s most abject dictatorships. Gold has drawn attention to Europe’s consistent and longstand- ing anti-Israeli bias at the world body. He says that according to the UN, Israel behaves demonically. He points to the possible consequences of this process, for which the European Union has helped lay the attitudinal groundwork. “From Israel’s distorted record at the UN to demonizing the entire Jewish people is then a short step. This process binds anti-Zionism, the attack on the legitimate rights of the Jewish people, with anti-Semitism.”9
Gold notes that the UN is often unwilling to take measures against genocide. For instance, it did not manage to convene the Security Council or Emergency Special Sessions of the General Assembly for Rwanda, or Darfur in the Sudan. He adds:
Yet such sessions are used, with European support, to discuss issues of infinitely less gravity for international peace and security that involve Israel.
For instance, in July 1997 the Arab states successfully convened an Emergency Special Session of the General Assembly, dealing with Israeli building practices in East Jerusalem at Har Homa, a barren hill . . . In the entire UN history, perhaps nine or ten Emergency Special Sessions have been convened. Sometimes the same session was reconvened a number of times. Almost all dealt with the Middle East and Israel.10
Samuels stressed that the UN is a vital arena and that its international conferences will increasingly be held in Third World countries. “It is there that we face multiplier effect problems. Our enemies may not have the power to destroy us, but in the world’s chambers of diplomatic rhetoric, they conduct a war of attrition that leads to confrontations on campuses, boycotts, lawsuits and media campaigns.”11
The UN Human Rights Council
Extreme examples of double standards against Israel come from the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva. According to a former Israeli ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Itzhak Levanon, the UNHRC “has focused on Israel to the exclusion of other pressing human rights needs.”12 He added that the council, for instance, had not passed a resolution condemning the over two hundred thousand deaths in Darfur, nor dealt with major human rights violations in countries such as China, for example.
The UNHRC is largely dominated by Arab and Islamic states. Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, says, “The United Nations Human Rights Council . . . has a standing agenda item against Israel. It is the only country specifically targeted at every meeting. Not even major human rights abusers like China, Cuba, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria or Zimbabwe are sub- jected to such treatment.”
The UNHRC adopts more resolutions condemning Israel than it does for the rest of the world combined. In its March 2013 session, there were six politicized resolutions against Israel—and only four against all other countries. The vast majority of the world’s victims of gross and systematic violations failed to merit a single resolution. The UNHRC turns a blind eye to mass killings in Iran, Syria, Iraq, Egypt and elsewhere, a clear denial of international due process.
Furthermore, Israel is also the object of more emergency sessions than any other country in the world. One product of these sessions was the 2009 Gold- stone Report, which excoriated Israel and exonerated Hamas.13
Lawfare: The Goldstone Report
After Israel’s Cast Lead campaign in 2008, the United Nations Human Rights Council assigned a highly biased mandate to a commission headed by Judge Richard Goldstone. It read: “to dispatch an urgent, independent international fact-finding mission, to be appointed by the President of the Council, to in- vestigate all violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law by the occupying Power, Israel, against the Palestinian people throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, particularly in the occupied Gaza Strip, due to the current aggression, and calls upon Israel not to obstruct the process of investigation and to fully cooperate with the mission.”
Th s mandate thus called for an exclusive investigation of Israel. In addition, it included several statements that pre-judged the investigations such as claiming that Israel had indeed committed violations of human rights and humanitarian law, that Israel was an “occupying power” and that it had engaged in “aggression.” This manifest prejudice is why earlier former United
Nations Human Rights Commissioner Mary Robinson refused to head up the Commission.14
The Goldstone Report is a prime example of lawfare against Israel. The Israeli government refused to cooperate with the commission. The resulting report fit the biased assignment.
Only several years later the commission’s chairman, Richard Goldstone, made partial amends for what must be considered a “hate-Israel” document prepared under his and his colleagues’ supervision. In April 2011, Goldstone wrote in The Washington Post:
If I had known then what I know now, the Goldstone Report would have been a different document . . . The allegations of intentionality by Israel were based on the deaths of and injuries to civilians in situations where our fact-finding missions had no evidence on which to draw any other reasonable conclusion
. . . [T]he investigations published by the Israeli military and recognized in the U.N. committee’s report . . . indicate that civilians were not intentionally targeted as a matter of policy . . .15
A book titled The Goldstone Report “Reconsidered”: A Critical Analysis contains a large number of damning condemnations of the text written by the Goldstone Commission, which is sometimes referred to as a kangaroo court.16 Dershowitz titles his chapter “The Case against the Goldstone Report: A Study in Evi- dentiary Bias.” Giving tens of examples, he says, “The Goldstone Report is, to any fair reader, a shoddy piece of work, unworthy of serious consideration by people of good will, committed to the truth.” He adds, “The Irish member of the mission, Colonel Desmond Travers, refused to believe evidence that undercut Hamas’ position, even when it was on videotape and utterly uncontradicted.” Dershowitz also notes, “The British member, Christine Chinkin, had already decided the case before hearing one bit of evidence.” Dershowitz brings proof for these statements and many others that illustrate the commission’s bias.17
The book also contains a letter by lawyer Trevor Norwitz to Goldstone, with whom he is on a first-name basis. He calls the report “deeply flawed,” “unbalanced and inflammatory,” “a procedurally deficient rush to judgment, and in- capable of producing any meaningful findings.”18 The resolution that had given the Goldstone Commission its mandate, Norwitz notes, was in Goldstone’s own words “very lopsided” and “unfair.” It authorized Goldstone’s commission to demonize Israel while legitimizing and even whitewashing Hamas.
In several subsections, Norwitz exposes the report’s fallacies. These sub- sections have titles such as: “Your procedurally flawed investigation,” “Failure to investigate critical facts,” “Use of hearsay and anonymous accusations as evidence,” “More prejudice than proof,” “Double standards in assessment of credibility of evidence and intentions,” “Seeking political impact rather than truth,” “Lawmaking Rather than Fact-Finding,” “Piling on Gratuitous anti- Israel criticisms,” “Legitimizing Hamas,” “Your ahistorical context,” and “The language of your report illustrates its bias.”19
Herzberg remarks, “If one accepts the Goldstone report, terrorists in future asymmetric conflicts can learn from it that it is worthwhile to deliberately operate in areas where civilian harm is greatest. Damage to international humanitarian law is of lesser concern, as almost all credible legal experts in the field have rejected the report’s terribly flawed legal analysis.”20
Deliberately operating in areas where civilian harm is greatest was indeed what occurred in 2014. In its reaction to Israel’s Operation Protective Edge, Hamas made an effort to put civilians at risk. It is not far-fetched to conclude that the Hamas leadership, thanks to the writings of Goldstone and his colleagues, understood what crimes one can get away with in the international sphere.
Regarding Goldstone’s partial retraction of the report in 2011, Herzberg comments, “Goldstone admitted in a Washington Post article that the central premise of the report, that Israel deliberately targeted Palestinian civilians, was wrong. He falsely claimed however, that his commission had reached erroneous conclusions based on evidence it had at the time. The truth is that it willfully ignored evidence which was already right in front of them.”21
There is not enough space here to discuss the various authors’ criticisms of the Goldstone Report in more detail. Any reader of some of the chapters must come to the conclusion that if this report is a legitimate expression of international law, this is indeed a very warped and dangerous discipline for democratic societies.
Another important point is that the Goldstone Report, even if criticized, is a further sign that in this profession, apparently, anything goes. It is a further indication of international law’s dubious character. One conclusion could be that there is an urgent need for a new academic discipline called “manipulations of international law.”
In summer 2014, the UNHRC repeated its previous biased operations. It appointed Canadian lawyer William Schabas to head yet another commission investigating Israel’s actions against Hamas in summer 2014.22 Neuer of UN Watch published a large amount of evidence that Schabas had shown bias against Israel and was not fit to adjudicate in this case because of his past state- ments calling to indict Israeli leaders.23
The continued existence of UNRWA is an indication of the United Nations’ extreme bias in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Kenneth Bandler of the American Jewish Committee wrote:
UNRWA is the only international refugee agency dedicated to exclusively benefit one population group, the Palestinians. All other refugees worldwide are covered by the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which not only provides sustenance but, importantly, also strives to resettle them, to ensure that their refugee status is not a permanent condition.
Originally envisaged as a temporary agency, UNRWA’s mandate, which does not call for resettlement, has been regularly renewed. UNRWA’s original roll of 700,000 refugees grew to include children, grandchildren, and great-grand- children, some 4.7 million Palestinians living in Gaza, the West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. The agency’s staff, some 27,000, is four times the size of the UNHCR workforce, deployed in every other conflict where refugees need help.
As for the financing of this greatly oversized agency, Bandler observes:
The Arab world’s refusal to integrate Palestinian refugees and the generosity of Western governments in providing more than 95 percent of UNRWA’s funding has assured its existence. The United States provides more than 25 percent of UNRWA’s $500 million annual budget. Arab nations, often first to rally for the Palestinian cause, account for about one percent, which speaks volumes about their genuine concerns for Palestinian well-being.24
In May 2014, Ron Prosor, Israeli ambassador to the UN, spoke in its building at a gathering of the International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists and the American Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists, and said, “UNRWA fuels false promises and gives grievance to dangerous myths. We have heard time and again that settlements are the major hurdle to peace. In these halls, no one will admit that the real obstacle is the so-called ‘claim to return.’”
Prosor added that the right of return “would flood Israel with millions of refugees and drown the Jewish state by sheer numbers.” He called it a euphemism for the destruction of Israel. Prosor remarked that “UNRWA is responsible for helping fuel this ‘fiction’ of the right of return to Palestinian children through their textbooks and schools.” He observed that the UNRWA mandate to resettle refugees was removed in 1965. This means that UNRWA has perpetuated the refugee problem instead of solving it. When comparing UNRWA to the UNHRC, he noted, “In addition to the right of return, the fact that the UN puts Palestinian refugees in a class of their own, separate from those elsewhere in the world, has also fueled the problem.”25
In 2013, a group of congressmen demanded that the State Department investigate and justify U.S. financial aid to UNRWA. They did so in view of accusations that the organization incites and radicalizes Palestinian refugees.26
Yet another UN organization biased against Israel is UNESCO. UN Watch notes that “Since 2009, UN Watch has counted no less than 46 UNESCO resolutions against Israel, one on Syria, and zero on Iran, North Korea, Sudan or any other country in the world.”
The current head of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, made major efforts to indefinitely delay an exhibition in Paris on the Jewish people and Israel, under the pressure of Arab states. According to UN Watch’s Neuer, “Bokova justified her cancellation of Monday’s Jewish exhibit by invoking UNESCO’s alleged concern not to endanger the fragile Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations. Yet somehow this noble principle of caution for peace never stopped UNESCO from excoriating Israel incessantly.”27
Ultimately, partly due to pressure from the United States, Canada, and others, the exhibition went ahead in June 2014.28
In August 2014, Bokova issued a statement condemning the killing of Palestinian journalist Abdullah Murtaja. The statement said: “I condemn the killing of Abdullah Murtaja. Journalists must be able to carry out their work in safe conditions and their civilian status needs to be respected at all times. Society needs to be kept informed of events, never more so than when living in the shadow of conflict . . .”
However, bloggers revealed that Murtaja was a member of Hamas’s Al-Qas- sam Brigade. Following his death, a picture of him in Hamas logos and a video of him with Hamas were released.29 This evidence forced Bokova to correct her statement. She now admitted that Murtaja was a member of an “organized armed group,” without specifically mentioning that the group was Hamas.30
The UN Division on Palestinian Rights
Yet another example of the extreme bias of the United Nations is the existence of the United Nations Division on Palestinian Rights (DPR) and the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (CEIRPP).
Daniel Mariaschin, executive vice-president of B’nai B’rith International, describes this reality:
Both the division and the committee were established by the UN in the wake of the infamous “Zionism is Racism” resolution, which itself followed on Yasser Arafat’s appearance before the UN General Assembly in 1974. Together with another body, the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices, these committees serve as an in-house public relations operation for the Palestinian side in the conflict with Israel . . .
On its website, the CEIRPP states that together with the DPR, the “secretariat” for Palestinian matters, the General Assembly “has gradually expanded the committee’s mandate.” Indeed, the DPR is the only bureau in the UN’s Secretariat to be dedicated solely to one group, sitting aside, as it does, bodies devoted to geographically-based divisions for Africa, the Americas, Asia and Pacific, Europe, Middle East and West Asia.31
In sum, the United Nations assists in promoting anti-Semitism whenever its organizations and staff members discriminate against Israel.32, 33, 34
- Dore Gold, Tower of Babble (New York: Crown Forum, 2004), 238.
- Ban Ki-moon, “Cairo, Egypt, 12 October 2014—Secretary General’s remarks at the Cairo Conference on Palestine,” United Nations, October 12, 2014.
- Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Irwin Cotler, “Discrimination Against Israel in the International Arena: Undermining the Cause of Human Rights at the United Nations,” in Europe’s Crumbling Myths: The Post-Holocaust Origins of Today’s Anti-Semitism (Jerusalem: Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Yad Vashem, World Jewish Congress, 2003), 217-221.
- Barak Ravid, “For Second Time, UNRWA Finds Rockets in One of Their Gaza Schools,” Haaretz, July 24, 2014.
- Anne Bayefsky, “Perspectives on Anti-Semitism Today,” lecture presented at the conference on “Confronting Anti-Semitism: Education for Tolerance and Understanding,” United Nations Department of Information, New York, June 21, 2004; Anne Bayefsky, “One Small Step,” Opinion Journal, June 21, 2004.
- Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Anne Bayefsky, “The United Nations: Lead- ing Global Purveyor of Anti-Semitism,” Post-Holocaust and Anti-Semitism, 31, April 1, 2005.
- Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Dore Gold, “Europe’s Consistent Anti- Israeli Bias at the United Nations,” Post-Holocaust and Anti-Semitism, 34, July 1, 2005.
- Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Dore Gold, “Europe’s Consistent Anti-Israeli Bias at the United Nations,” in Israel and Europe: An Expanding Abyss (Jeru- salem: Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Adenauer Foundation, 2005), 49-66.
- Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Shimon Samuels, “Anti-Semitism and Jew- ish Defense at the United Nations World Summit on Sustainable Development, 2002 Johannesburg, South Africa,” Post-Holocaust and Anti-Semitism, 6, March 2, 2003.
- Quoted in Tovah Lazaroff, “UN Human Rights Council Singles Out Israel Again,” The Jerusalem Post, November 28, 2006.
- Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Hillel Neuer, “The UNHRC’s Standing Agenda Against Israel,” Israel National News, November 5, 2013.
- Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Anne Herzberg, “Gazans Learn From Gold- stone Report,” Israel National News, June 2, 2014.
- Richard Goldstone, “Reconsidering the Goldstone Report on Israel and war crimes,” The Washington Post, April 2, 2011.
- Gerald Steinberg and Anne Herzberg, eds., The Goldstone Report “Reconsidered”: A Critical Analysis (Jerusalem: NGO Monitor, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, 2011).
- Alan Dershowitz, “The Case against the Goldstone Report: A Study in Evidentiary Bias,” in Gerald Steinberg and Anne Herzberg, eds., The Goldstone Report “Reconsidered”: A Critical Analysis (Jerusalem: NGO Monitor, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, 2011), 99-152.
- Trevor Norwitz, “Letter to Justice Goldstone,” in Gerald Steinberg and Anne Herzberg, eds., The Goldstone Report “Reconsidered”: A Critical Analysis (Jerusalem: NGO Monitor, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, 2011), 153-180.
- Gerstenfeld, interview with Herzberg.
- Lee-Ann Goodman, Canadian Press, “William Schabas, head of UN Gaza com- mission, dismisses anti-Israel charge,” CBC News, August 11, 2014.
- “NGO: William Schabas must recuse himself from UN Gaza inquiry,” UN Watch, August 11, 2014.
- Kenneth Bandler, “UNRWA: Time to start planning for resettlement,” Miami Herald, October 20, 2010.
- Maya Shwayder, “Prosor publicly blasts UNRWA,” The Jerusalem Post, May 20,
- Ari Yashar, “US Congressmen to Kerry: Justify US Aid to UNRWA,” Israel National News, November 26, 2011.
- “Factsheet: UNESCO and Israel,” UN Watch, January 17, 2014.
- “Unesco to go ahead with disputed Jewish exhibition,” Reuters, January 27, 2014.
- “UNESCO Corrects: Hamas Man Not a Journalist,” CAMERA, November 16, 2014.
- “UNESCO Director-General Statement regarding Abdullah Murtaja,” UNESCO, November 14, 2014.
- Daniel Mariaschin, “No contribution to peace or reconciliation,” The Jerusalem Post, May 13, 2014.
- Hillel Neuer, “The Struggle against Anti-Israel Bias at the UN Commission on Human Rights,” Post-Holocaust and Anti-Semitism, 40, January 1, 2006.
- Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Dore Gold, “Europe’s Consistent Anti- Israeli Bias at the United Nations,” Post-Holocaust and Anti-Semitism, 34, July 1, 2005.
- Gerstenfeld, interview with Samuels.