A Day that Will Live On in Infamy

By not insisting on the immediate return of hostages before the ceasefire, and by failing to condemn Hamas for starting the war, the UN has once again shown its chronic bias against the world’s only Jewish state.
March 25, 2024
UN Security Council members vote on a ceasefire resolution for the Gaza war during a UN Security Council meeting on March 22, 2024 in New York City. (Photo by Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images)

Today is a dark day for the Western world; a day that will live on in infamy. The decision by the United Nations Security Council to impose a ceasefire on Israel without condemning Hamas for instigating the current war, or insisting on the immediate return of hostages before a ceasefire begins, is surely one of great injustices imposed on a country since the creation of the United Nations in the wake of the Second World War.

Since its establishment in 1945, the United Nations has ostensibly aimed to be the fulcrum of global peace and security, intervening in conflicts to halt wars and foster negotiations. However, the decision today by the UN Security Council marks a stark departure from historical precedents. It is also galling hypocrisy to use Ramadan as a foil for this resolution, when Hamas deliberately chose a Jewish festival day as the date to launch its violent bloodbath against Jews.

These omissions are not just notable; they are literally unprecedented, except when it comes to Israel. In past interventions when the Jewish state wasn’t involved, the UN has repeatedly taken a more balanced approach, recognizing aggressions and violations of international law by all parties involved. This latest stance, with a resolution that is void of any condemnation of Hamas or demands for the return of hostages for there to be a ceasefire, raises questions about fairness and the underlying principles guiding the UN’s decisions in international conflicts.

Just by way of comparison, in January, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 2722, which called for the maintenance of international peace and security in the face of Houthi attacks on commercial navigation in the Red Sea. The resolution unequivocally condemned the Houthi’s aggressive actions, including the seizure of the ship, Galaxy Leader, and its crew, emphasizing the vital importance of unimpeded maritime commerce and the exercise of navigational rights under international law. The resolution demanded an immediate halt to such attacks and called for the release of the seized vessel and its crew, highlighting the broader implications of these actions on global trade and regional stability.

And yet, the resolution also affirmed the international community’s commitment to supporting Yemen’s sovereignty and the capacity-building efforts of its Coast Guard, and underscored the need to prevent the provision of arms that could escalate the conflict. Significantly, Resolution 2722 balanced its firm condemnation of the Houthis’ actions with a call for restraint in military countermeasures and diplomacy, and urged all parties to engage in enhanced diplomatic efforts to address the root causes of the conflict and prevent further escalation in the Red Sea and the surrounding region. This balanced approach clearly demonstrates that the UN Security Council is capable of adopting a resolution that is comprehensive and balanced – except, apparently, when it comes to Israel and the Palestinians.

That Israel will feel a sense of grievance over the UN Security Council’s resolution calling for a ceasefire is totally reasonable. Israel is surrounded by entities and nations with whom it has a complex and often hostile relationship, and rightfully views its security and sovereignty as paramount. The failure of the resolution to explicitly condemn Hamas for initiating hostilities not only undermines Israel’s longstanding security concerns but also raises questions about the UN’s impartiality in resolving this conflict.

Moreover, by not insisting on the immediate return of hostages before the ceasefire—a fundamental humanitarian concern—even as it expresses concern for the humanitarian needs of Gaza’s residents, the resolution has manifestly overlooked the human rights of Israeli citizens. To have done so is to have neglected the very principles of justice, fairness, and protection of civilians that the UN purports to uphold, contributing to Israel’s feeling of isolation and bias against it within the international community.

The resolution adopted today highlights the grave dilemma facing Israel: how should a country that must confront terrorism, military threats and an international community that is seemingly more concerned for its enemies address legitimate security needs and their right to self-defense in an arena where its actions are often scrutinized more heavily than those of state actors and non-state actors perpetrating violence against it.

Considering the far-reaching implications of having called for a ceasefire without directly addressing the actions of Hamas or the pressing issue of Israeli hostages, the UN Security Council must urgently reevaluate. The United Nations purports to bear the mantle of peace and justice on the global stage – in which case it must immediately issue a new resolution that comprehensively addresses the concerns raised by this latest resolution. The new resolution should explicitly condemn Hamas aggression, demand the immediate release of all the hostages, and outline clear expectations for the cessation of hostilities that ensure the safety and security of all civilians – not just those living in Gaza.

Failure to reevaluate and issue a new resolution addressing the legitimate concerns of all parties involved – including Israel – will show that the United Nations has devolved into nothing more than an instrument for the most corrupt elements within the international community. Such a scenario would irreparably damage whatever remains of the UN’s credibility, not only in the eyes of Israel, but also for any nation or group entangled in a conflict where alleviating human suffering is paramount.

Unless the current resolution’s shortcomings are promptly and effectively rectified, the consequences will be dire. The world will be markedly worse off, with human suffering only set to escalate. This moment calls for urgent action and integrity from the United Nations, lest its role as the foundation of hope and fairness in the international arena be forever compromised.

Rabbi Pini Dunner is the senior spiritual leader at Beverly Hills Synagogue, a member of the Young Israel family of synagogues.

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