May 22, 2019

A Shameful Jewish Silence at the U.N.

“Do not stand idly by” is a popular mantra of Jewish activists who fight injustice. Whether the injustice is genocide in Sudan or child migrants separated from their parents or Israel undermining its democracy, these activists know how to make themselves heard.

But last week, when it came time to condemn terrorism in a high-profile vote, Jewish activists fell largely silent.

There were no online petitions or demonstrations in front of the United Nations in support of a resolution to denounce the terrorist group Hamas. As expected, the General Assembly rejected a U.S.-sponsored resolution that called for an end to violence, encouraged intra-Palestinian reconciliation, and condemned terrorism.

“Over the years, the U.N. has voted to condemn Israel over 500 times . . . and not one single resolution condemning Hamas,” U.S. ambassador Nikki Haley said in response. “That, more than anything else, is a condemnation of the United Nations itself.”

“The United Nations’ sorry record on Israel and terrorism is an issue that should unite the Jews, as well as anyone who cares about justice.”

To add insult to injury, as David May wrote in National Review Online (NRO), “The U.N. indicated that Jews’ praying at the Western Wall is more worthy of condemnation than Hamas’s lobbing rockets indiscriminately at Israeli civilians,” as the General Assembly passed another resolution calling for “an end to ‘Israel’s occupation . . . including of East Jerusalem,’ the location of Judaism’s holiest shrine.”

The fact that the U.N. is a cesspool of anti-Israel sentiment, virtually immune to any activism, is no reason not to protest. When the cause is worth it, Jewish activists have no problem fighting against the odds.

We saw them do just that a few months ago when eight Jewish organizations — T’ruah (the rabbinic call for human rights), the New Israel Fund, J-Street, Ameinu, Americans for Peace Now, the National Council of Jewish Women, Partners for Progressive Israel and the Union for Reform Judaism — rose up to protest Israel’s new Nation-State law.

They published an online “pledge” encouraging people to confront those who voted for the law: “Sixty-two members of Knesset voted to approve the Nation-State Law, which denigrates minorities within Israel, as well as Jews outside of Israel,” the statement read. “Take the pledge to hold these MKs to account for their vote, which threatens democracy and equality in Israel, by demanding answers from them.”

The pledge, which followed months of active protests and public condemnation, provided a list of the MKs and suggested five tough questions for them to answer.

It makes you wonder: Why can’t these warriors of justice do the same against Hamas and the United Nations? If speaking truth to power makes sense for Israel, why doesn’t it make sense for the horribly biased U.N.?

I looked on the websites of the eight Jewish groups that protested the Nation-State law and couldn’t find one statement or press release in support of the anti-terror resolution. Why is that?

“If speaking truth to power makes sense for Israel, why doesn’t it make sense for the horribly biased U.N.?”

If their answer is, “It’s not our mission,” my response is, “Why not?”

After all, Jewish activists take special pride in standing up against discrimination and injustice. If the pathological anti-Israel bias at the U.N. doesn’t qualify as discrimination and injustice, nothing does.

And if the mission is the “search for peace,” anti-Israel bias undermines that goal.

As May writes, “By continuously condemning Israel and encouraging Palestinian maximalist demands, the U.N. harms prospects for peace. It only makes matters worse by giving terrorists such as Hamas a free pass. [The UNGA resolution] was a major test for the United Nations in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, and it failed miserably.”

The U.N. does not deserve a free pass when it appeases terror groups while singling out Israel for special condemnation. If this injustice is a stain on the U.N., it’s also a stain on Jewish activists who stand idly by.

There are so many divisions in the Jewish community when it comes to Israel, we ought to pounce when we find an issue we can all agree on. The United Nations’ sorry record on Israel is an issue that should unite the Jews, as well as anyone who cares about justice.

So, here’s my simple question for Jewish activists who love to pounce on injustice: Why aren’t you pouncing on the U.N.?