January 15, 2019

U.N. Calls Out Iran’s Human Rights Abuses in Resolution

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani departs after speaking at the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit during the 73rd United Nations General Assembly in New York, U.S., September 24, 2018. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

A majority of the United Nations General Assembly voted in favor of a resolution that called out the Iranian regime for its various human rights abuses on Monday, by a vote of 84 in favor and 30 against.

The resolution denounces Iran’s “ongoing severe limitations and restrictions on the right to freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief, restrictions on the establishment of places of worship, attacks against places of worship and burial and other human rights violations, including but not limited to harassment, intimidation, persecution, arbitrary arrests and detention, denial of access to education and incitement to hatred that leads to violence against persons belonging to recognized and unrecognized religious minorities.”

Iran was also condemned for its “alarmingly high” rate of executions – especially over “drug-related crimes – as well as its frequent use of “arbitrary detention.”

Hillel Neuer of U.N. Watch has the breakdown of countries that voted for and against the resolution:

“The death in detention last week of Vahid Sayadi Nasiri, imprisoned for Facebook posts critical of Tehran’s rulers, only underscores the urgent need for the international community to hold Iran accountable for its human rights abuses,” Neuer said in a statement. “Today the world sent a strong message to the fanatical regime, and that must continue.”

Neuer added, “We call upon the international community to use the occasion of this resolution to redouble its condemnation of Iran’s escalating abuse of the human rights of all its citizens, and to demand a change.”

Haley: Trump Wanted to Cut Funding to Those That Voted Down UN Hamas Resolution

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump talks to the media on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington before his departure for the annual Army-Navy college football game in Philadelphia, U.S., December 8, 2018. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas/File Photo

United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said in a Dec. 6 speech that President Donald Trump wanted to cut funding to countries that voted against a United Nations that condemned Hamas as a terror group.

The resolution received 87 votes in favor, 57 against and 33 abstentions on Dec. 6, falling short of the two-thirds threshold needed for it to pass.

According to the Times of Israel, Haley said at the Israel U.N. mission’s menorah lighting that Trump called her after the vote and said, “Who do we need to get upset at? Who do you want me to yell at? Who do we take their money away?”

“I’m not gonna tell you what I told him,” Haley added.

Haley praised the 87 countries that voted for the resolution as a sign of “a new day at the UN.”

According to the Gatestone Institute’s Bassam Tawil, the fact that Hamas viewed the resolution’s failure as an indicator that “the resistance is a legitimate right guaranteed by all international laws and conventions,” including the use of “armed struggle,” shows that Hamas and other Palestinian terror groups have been emboldened by the failed resolution.

“What Hamas is telling the UN and the rest of the world is: ‘Now that you have refused to brand us terrorists, we have the right to launch all forms of terrorist attacks and kill as many Jews as possible,’” Tawil wrote. “Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders are, in fact, threatening not only to continue, but also to step up, their terrorist attacks on Israel.”

UN Fails to Pass Resolution Condemning Hamas

United Nations General Assembly hall in New York City.

A resolution that would have condemned Hamas as a terror organization failed to pass in the United Nations, falling below the two-thirds threshold needed to pass.

The resolution, which was spearheaded by the United States, denounced Hamas for using rockets and tunnels to attack Israel and “inciting violence.” While the resolution received a plurality of the vote with 87 in favor, 57 against and 33 abstentions, a motion was passed prior to the vote that required a two-thirds threshold to pass a resolution.

Hillel Neuer of U.N. Watch has the breakdown:

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley excoriated the U.N. for failing to pass the resolution.

We can’t talk about peace in the Middle East until we can agree on a basic condemnation of Hamas and its terrorism,” Haley said. “The U.N. had a chance to do that today, and it failed.”

Similarly, Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. Danny Danon said, “Wait when you will have to deal with terrorism in your own countries. Your silence in the face of evil reveals your true colors.”

“It tells us what side you are really on: a side that does not care for the lives of innocent Israelis and innocent Palestinians who have fallen victim to the terrorists of Hamas,” Danon continued.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zhari tweeted that the resolution’s failure “represents a slap to the U.S. administration and confirmation of the legitimacy of the resistance.”

However, Danon did note in a tweet that “a record 87 countries condemned Hamas for its rocket fire & use of civilian infrastructure for military purposes against Israel.”

“I thank @nikkihaley for her hard work in forming an unprecedented coalition. We will continue to fight for the truth!” Danon wrote.

‘Palestine From the River to the Sea’ Has Always Been a Call for Annihilation Not Liberation

Screenshot from Twitter.

On November 28, 2018, Marc Lamont Hill, a well-known anti-Israel activist, frequent CNN commentator and Temple University professor, who previously crowd-funded to help a terrorist convicted of planting a bomb near a Jerusalem hospital that wounded nine  Israelis, spoke in front of the United Nations. There, he expressly called for the boycott of the world’s only Jewish state, excused and even encouraged Palestinian Arab violence directed at Jews (which he euphemistically characterized as “resistance”) and also saidWe have an opportunity to not just offer solidarity in words but to commit to political action, grass-roots action, local action and international action that will give us what justice requires and that is a free Palestine from the river to the sea.

When numerous Jewish organizations objected to Hill’s endorsement of Palestinian Arab violence against Israelis, and  the oft-used Hamas Jihadists rallying cry that plainly refers to the annihilation of the state of Israel, Hill focused on refuting that his use of the “from the river to the sea” refrain is a call to wipe Israel off the map:

Set aside that there was nothing “just” about a speech where Hill completely dissembled about the Arab-Israeli conflict, placed all blame for the conflict on the Jews, romanticized “resistance” terror attacks (which include intentionally blowing up and stabbing Jewish children) and gave a complete pass to the corrupt and despotic Palestinian Arab leadership for the lack of peace (or justice). Hill’s call at the United Nations to “free Palestine from the river to the sea” was a case of a well-known Israel-hater repeating a call to destroy Israel, as well as a chant harkening to a return to a time when all Jews in the Middle East lived as “Dhimmi” second-class citizens (and often much [much] worse) under Arab rule. And it is particularly not credible for someone like Hill to issue this denial, given that he has for years given full-throated support to Anti-Semitism, and has even buddied up to one of America’s most vicious purveyors of Jew-hatred, Louis Farrakhan.

The reality is that “free Palestine from the river to the sea” is as retrograde racist, and as much a call to violence, as someone who supports the KKK saying “make America White again.”

Hill’s argument is also incredibly dishonest because of those who purport to support Palestinian Arabs, and in particular, their leaders, have never sought to actually “free Palestine” from anything other than Jewish sovereignty.

After World War I, when the Allies carved up the defeated Ottoman Empire, which controlled the entire Levant for most of the previous 400 years, the Allies created the “Palestine Mandate.” At that time, the Palestine Mandate included all of what is today Israel and the Kingdom of Jordan. In 1921, however, the British Colonial Secretary created – with the stroke of a pen – a new, never before heard of in history country called “Transjordan” out of 78 percent of the Palestine Mandate in order to give a “kingdom” to a foreign tribe of Hashemite Arabs fleeing defeat and likely death at the hands of Ibn Saud — in what became Saudi Arabia.

Despite it being 78 percent of the original Palestine Mandate (and now having a population that is more than 70% Arabs who identify as “Palestinian”) there has never been a call to “free” the overwhelming majority of the Palestine Mandate from a foreign kingdom transplanted into the region by the British. Because, no Jews, then no need for war-like chants or endorsing violent “resistance.”

Same thing for the areas of the Palestine Mandate west of the Jordan River. When the smoke cleared from the Arab League’s failed effort in 1948 to annihilate Israel and toss the Jews into the sea; the Jews had survived, and had also secured sovereignty and independence in a significant part of their indigenous homeland. However, the Arab countries of Jordan and Egypt had taken control of Judea and Samaria (aka the “West Bank”) and Gaza. Jordan, in fact, annexed Judea and Samaria.

Meanwhile, the first recorded use of the phrase Hill is now defending -“free Palestine from the river to the sea” – was used by the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) when it was formed in 1964. Notably, back in 1964, much of the land west of the Jordan River was controlled by an Egyptian dictator in Cairo and a sham Jordanian Hashemite King in Amman.  But the PLO’s 1964 Charter specifically excluded both the “West Bank” and Gaza from the territories it sought to “liberate.”

In fact, if anything puts the lie to Hill’s “blame the Jews for everything” narrative, as well as his claim that the call to “free Palestine from the river to the sea” is not about destroying Israel and Jewish sovereignty in every inch of the Jews’ indigenous, historical and religious homeland, it is the fact that the 1964 PLO Charter — and the 1968 PLO Charter — are identical with the exception of only one thing. Article 24 of the 1964 Charter defined the territory the PLO sought to “liberate” as only those under Jewish sovereignty at that time. After the Six-Day War, Article 24 was amended to include the West Bank and Gaza Strip as suddenly new parts of the “Palestinian homeland” needing “liberation.”

Of course, Hill’s claim that his use of the “river to the sea” chant was somehow not consistent with a genocidal call to wipe Israel off the map, because “the phrase dates back to the middle of the British Mandate and has never been the exclusive province of a particular ideological camp” doesn’t make sense for anyone who is familiar with who has used that phrase.

Before Hill even started elementary school, this was how that phrase was used by the PLO leadership, specifically Abu Iyad, the head of the Black September terrorist group, which in the name of “freedom” and “resistance” in 1972 kidnapped, castrated and then murdered 11 Israeli Olympians:

The Jihadist/Islamist Supremacist Hamas Charter published in 1988, when Lamont Hill was barely 10 years old, expressly states in its preamble that “Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam obliterates it, just as it obliterated others before it.” And, in Article 6, it says that Hamas “strives to raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine …” Since then, Hamas leaders, such as Khaled Mashaal, has repeatedly echoed the genocidal and eliminationist “river to the sea” sentiments expressed by Abu Iyad, such as during his speech in Gaza in 2012, when he said: “Palestine is ours, from the river to the sea and from the south to the north. There will be no concession on an inch of the land.”

Hill’s claim that he did not understand the clear meaning of the “river to the sea” chant and that this phrase has had other meanings in the past, is not only wrong, it is irrelevant. It is the equivalent of a Nazi sympathizer using a swastika, and then claiming he did not mean it as a symbol of genocidal hate because at one point the Swastika was used as a symbol of divinity and spirituality in Indian religions.

Nor is Hill saved by the claim some have made in his defense that the Likud party platform founding charter from 1977, provided that “between the Sea and the Jordan there will only be Israeli sovereignty.” 

Anyone positing this defense, like Hill, is either being remarkably disingenuous about the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict, or just ignorant. Since 1937, Jewish leadership in the land of Israel has repeatedly accepted partition plans and offered peace plans, which included the creation of the first independent Arab state in history west of the Jordan River. All told, a first-ever independent Arab state west of the Jordan River has been either accepted or offered at least 6 different times by Israeli leaders. The Palestinian Arab leadership, on the other hand, because their goal has always been the elimination of any Jewish state “from the river to the sea,” has always rejected all partition plans and peace plans offered to them. And it was one of Likud’s all time most conservative leaders, Ariel Sharon, who unilaterally withdrew every Israel soldier and citizen from Gaza, effectively giving the Palestinian Arabs in Gaza the first opportunity to demonstrate to the world what an independent Arab state west of the Jordan River might look like. And what did they do with that opportunity? Elected Hamas, to the legislature, which then promptly – as one would expect of a despotic terrorist group – staged a violent coup, murdered and exiled its PLO rivals in Gaza, and turned Gaza into a terrorist state whose main purpose has always been to destroy Israel, “from the river to the sea.”

Ultimately, this is what Hill is arguing for when he says he wants a “free Palestine from the river to the sea.” A land where Jews are once again second-class citizens to the descendants of the colonizing Arabs who conquered the Jews’ indigenous homeland and imposed their Islamist and Arab supremacist rule on the entire Middle East and North Africa.

After all, if anyone wants to see what it would be like for Jews if Hill got his wish, then all one has to do is see what life was like for Jews under Arab rule before Israel’s independence (where, for centuries, Jews were perennially subject to discriminatory laws and frequent massacres) or what life is presently like for other minorities (Yazidis, Copts, Kurds, …) in Arab-controlled lands.

The good news is that it appears that most people, including apparently the bosses at CNN, understood exactly what Hill was advocating for.

Newsflash for Hill: the only Arabs who are actually “free” in the region of the world that was named “Palestine” by colonialist Greeks and Romans, are the ones who are Israeli citizens. If Hill really wants freedom for Palestinian Arabs, then he should be advocating for democracy in Jordan, Gaza and those under the Palestinian Authority.


Mitch Danzig served in the Israeli Army and is a former police officer with the NYPD. He is currently an attorney and is active with numerous organizations, including Stand With Us, T.E.A.M. and the FIDF. He is a frequent guest on the One America News Network, where he is called on to discuss matters related to Anti-Semitism, Israel and the Middle East.

CNN Fires Commentator Who Called for a ‘Free Palestine from the River to the Sea’

Screenshot from Twitter.

CNN has fired Marc Lamont Hill from his position as a political commentator following his call for a “free Palestine from the River to the Sea.”

Mediaite first reported it on Thursday; the Journal has confirmed that this is the case, as a CNN spokesperson emailed the Journal, “Marc Lamont Hill is no longer under contract with CNN.”

On Wednesday, Hill said at the United Nations, “We must promote non violence at every opportunity, but cannot endorse narrow politics that shames Palestinians for resisting, for refusing to do nothing in ethnic cleansing.” He then added for his call for a “free Palestine from the river to the sea.”

The CNN spokesperson did not respond to the Journal’s question regarding whether these comments prompted the firing.

Simon Wiesenthal Center Associate Dean Rabbi Abraham Cooper told the Journal in an email, “CNN had to fire Hill.”

“He morphed from social commentator to a shill and propagandist for Palestinian terrorism and end of Jewish State,” Cooper said. “And he did it with a speech at the UN!”

Lawfare Project Executive Director Brooke Goldstein told the Journal in an emailed statement that CNN did “the right thing.”

“Marc Lamont Hill intentionally and very publicly called for the annihilation of the Jewish people and the destruction of their historic homeland,” Goldstein said. “There is no place for such bigotry in the 21st century especially in a major american news outlet.”

Goldstein added, “It is encouraging to see that CNN does not tolerate anti-Semitism. It is dumbfounding that Hill, who is in no position to claim credentials as an academic, still holds a position at Temple University.“

Hill is also a professor of media studies and urban education at Temple University; a spokesperson from the university told the Journal in email that they will not be firing Hill.

“Marc Lamont Hill has been quoted extensively over the last 24 hours,” the spokesperson said. “Marc Lamont Hill does not represent Temple University and his views are his own. However, we acknowledge that he has a constitutionally protected right to express his opinion as a private citizen.”

ADL Responds to CNN Commentator Calling for a ‘Free Palestine from the River to the Sea’

Screenshot from Twitter.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) called CNN political commentator and Temple University Professor Marc Lamont Hill’s call for a “free Palestine from the river to sea” on Wednesday “divisive” and “destructive” in an email to the Journal.

According to Arutz Sheva, Hill accused Israel in a Wednesday speech at the United Nations of infringing upon “citizenship rights to Palestinians just because they are not Jewish” and denying “due process” to Palestinians.

Hill went on to endorse the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement and said that while peace is the highest priority, “we must not romanticize or fetishize it.”

“We must promote non violence at every opportunity, but cannot endorse narrow politics that shames Palestinians for resisting, for refusing to do nothing in ethnic cleansing,” Hill said.

He added that he thinks that there needs to be “a Free Palestine from the River to the Sea.”

Sharon Nazarian, the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) senior vice president for international affairs, told the Journal in an email, “Those calling for ‘from the river to the sea’ are calling for an end to the State of Israel.”

“It is a shame that once again, this annual event at the United Nations does not promote constructive pathways to ‘Palestinian solidarity’ and a future of peace, but instead divisive and destructive action against Israel,” Nazarian said.

Similarly, Simon Wiesenthal Center Associate Dean Rabbi Abraham Cooper told the Journal in an email, “Justice requires a ‘Free Palestine from the River to the Sea’? Marc Lamont Hill is a confirmed anti-Zionist ideologue. His extremist, anti-peace views merit coverage on CNN, not as a paid pundit but as a supreme propagandist unfettered by facts.”

Cooper added, “By the way Marc, where will you put the nearly 9 million Israeli citizens, nearly 20% of whom are Arabs? Any Palestinian entity we’ve been told will be Judenrein—only place left is… Mediterranean Sea.”

Hill responded to some of the criticism he received from his remarks on Twitter:

Hill has not responded to the Journal’s request for comment as of publication time.

Killing Another Linkage

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a joint press conference REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer/Pool

You might not remember the debate about whether the road to Middle East peace ran through Jerusalem or Baghdad. In the early 1990s, U.S. Secretary of State James Baker believed that peace between Israel and Palestine was the key to solving the main problems of the Middle East. During the second Bush administration, a reverse suggestion was made — and debated: that solving the problem of Baghad would hasten a peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Time proved both theories wrong, or at least premature. Peace was not achieved, and the Middle East still has problems. Very few people still believe in a so-called “linkage.” 

Of course, peace with the Palestinians has merit, but avoiding the linkage between achieving that goal and pursuing other Middle East advances removes some of the pressures on the Israeli-Palestinian issue. The Palestinians cannot hold all other Middle East advances hostage until their issue is resolved. The world no longer lives under the illusion that Israel-Palestine peace is the first priority (more important than, say, Iranian nuclear advances). Israel is no longer blamed — at least not by serious people — for causing trouble in other areas in the region. 

With that linkage basically put aside, Israel is now aiming for the jugular of the second linkage: whether it can be legitimized in the Arab Muslim world when its conflict with the Palestinians is still an open wound.

“Israel is now aiming for the jugular of the second linkage: whether it can be legitimized in the Arab Muslim world when its conflict with the Palestinians is still an open wound.”

Egypt was the first country to erode this linkage when it signed a peace agreement with Israel (with provisions aimed at advancing a solution for the Palestinians). Jordan likewise signed a peace agreement with Israel in the early 1990s, when Israel and the Palestinians seemed for a while as if they were moving toward resolution. 

The situation today is much changed. It is clear that Israelis and Palestinians are not moving toward peace. It is also clear that when Arab Muslim countries get closer to Israel that they are not doing it because of the Palestinian issue but rather in spite of it. They are doing it because they have other priorities — concerns about Iran; economic or technological needs Israel can satisfy; or political needs that can be addressed through Israel’s ties in Washington. 

Relations with Persian Gulf countries have improved. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently visited Oman, and there is now talk about an upcoming visit to Bahrain. Relations with Saudi Arabia are of great importance to both countries. And then there is Africa, where Israel is slowly edging toward renewing relations with more countries. 

On Nov. 25, the president of Chad, Idriss Déby, visited Israel. Chad is a poor, corrupt country in the middle of Africa that is plagued by political violence and ranked very high on the failed-state index. Déby has dealt with rebellions and coups d’état attempts since he first became president in 1990. Chad has little to contribute to Israel — except on the issue of linkage. It has a small Muslim majority, and in the early 1970s, it severed ties with Israel under pressure from Saudi Arabia, Libya and other Arab countries in an attempt by the Arab world to keep Israel illegitimate. (President Déby was highly influenced by former Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi.)

Now that the second linkage seems to be dying, or maybe is dead, the Palestinians are no doubt following this process with apprehension. It takes away one of the key tools they used in their battle with Israel: the power of the Arab Muslim world to put pressure on the Jewish State. For Israel, it’s a triumph. It carries the hope that the Palestinians will finally realize that time is not necessarily on their side. It also carries a certain risk: Israel might be tempted to forget the Palestinians. But while Chad is far away, the Palestinians, with or without the support of Arab Muslim countries, still live in Israel.


Shmuel Rosner is senior political editor. For more analysis of Israeli and international politics, visit Rosner’s Domain at jewishjournal.com/rosnersdomain.

UN Translation of Abbas Speech Doesn’t Mention Praise of ‘Pay-to-Slay’ Policy

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during Fatah Central Committee meeting in Ramallah in the occupied West Bank October 6, 2018. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman

Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) has a new report noting that the United Nations’ translation of a recent speech of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas didn’t mention his praise of the PA’s “pay-to-slay” policy.

The report noted Abbas’ speech at the U.N. General Assembly in Arabic translates to him stating, “I pay tribute to our pure martyrs and our heroic prisoners.”

Abbas then says, “Why is the one who murdered [Yitzhak] Rabin considered a hero and we – our people – are criminals whom it is forbidden to pay?”

The United Nations’ translation of Abbas’ speech, on the other hand, states that Abbas said, “I pay tribute to all freedom-loving countries and peoples and our martyrs” and he lamented, “Why is that who killed Rabin is a hero while our people are criminals?”

The authors of the PMW report, Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik, called these translation differences “very significant,” noting that the “freedom loving countries” translation made his comments “sound benign.” And the “forbidden to pay” quote was missing altogether from the U.N. translation.

PMW’s report appears to be corroborated by the Times of Israel’s translation of Abbas’ speech:

I pay tribute to our honorable martyrs and courageous prisoners. Israel considers them criminals. Why? It has thousands of people who have attacked everyone? They are heroes. Why is Rabin’s killer considered a hero and we, our group, is considered criminals who should not be paid? I salute our heroic martyrs and heroic prisoners.

Abbas’ speech also included him calling Israel’s “nation-state” racist and that it ill turn Israel into “an apartheid state.” He then referred to Israel as the “occupying power.”

The PMW report comes on the heels of UNESCO calling a couple of Jewish holy sites part of “Occupied Palestine.”

The United Nations has not responded to the Journal’s request for comment.

Ambassador Nikki Haley to Resign From UN

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley has announced her intention to resign at the end of the year.

Appearing Tuesday morning in the Oval Office alongside U.S. President Donald Trump, Haley said her accomplishments included combating anti-Israel bias in the United Nations.

According to media reports, her announcement has shocked White House staffers.

She told reporters she does not plan to run for president in 2020 and will support Trump’s reelection campaign.

Trump said he hopes to name a successor in two to three weeks.

Trump’s nominee to succeed Haley will require confirmation by the U.S. Senate.

Haley was beloved in the pro-Israel community, including at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), which she addressed during its annual policy conference this year.

“We appreciate the strong leadership of @nikkihaley @USUN,” AIPAC tweeted, following Haley’s announcement. “Thank you for consistently standing up for America’s interest and our democratic ally Israel.”

In response to Haley’s announcement, American Jewish Committee also tweeted, “We will miss her fearless voice.”

In a phone interview, David Makovsky, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said Haley’s rhetoric about the U.N. holding Israel to a double standard, coupled with her star quality, will make her difficult to replace in the eyes of Israel’s supporters.

“When someone like that leaves it clearly is something that is going to be a blow,” he said.

He said that her “articulate yet plain spoken [style]…became her signature approach, and I think she was consistent in the way she delivered that message and that drew many followers and she will be missed.”

Prior to her appointment to the U.N on Jan. 27, 2017, Haley, 46, served as the governor of South Carolina.

In a joint statement, Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean and founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC), and Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of SWC, said, “We will miss this passionate and fearless foe of tyrants and friend of Israel.”

“As an accredited NGO at the United Nations we witnessed first-hand as Nikki Haley showed time and again – in word and deed – to be a passionate, fearless, and unflinching foe of tyrants like Iran’s Ayatollah and terrorists like Hamas and Hezbollah,” they said.

What Haley will do next is anybody’s guess, Makovsky said.

“My sense is she wants to earn some money in the private sector,” he said.

Updated 12:20 p.m. on Oct. 9.

U.S. Rescinds Parts of Two Treaties to Avoid U.N. Court Actions

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and White House national security adviser John Bolton attend the "Global Call to Action on the World Drug Problem" event at the United Nations in New York, U.S., September 24, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

The Trump administration announced that they had rescinded parts of two treaties on Wednesday, stating that it was necessary to protect their sovereignty from the United Nation’s International Court of Justice (ICJ).

The first treaty was the 1955 Treaty of Amity with Iran, which the ICJ cited as basis for the United States to stop its sanctions on the Iranian regime that hinder humanitarian goods and services from entering the country.

“This is a decision frankly that is 39 years overdue,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters.

Pompeo also argued that Iran was “abusing the ICJ for political and propaganda purposes” and that Iran should utilize its resources for humanitarian efforts rather than funneling it toward terror throughout the Middle East.

“Those are dollars the Iranian leadership is squandering,” Pompeo said. “They could be providing humanitarian assistance to their own people but have chosen a different path.”

White House National Security Adviser John Bolton told reporters on Wednesday that the United States would also be exiting from an amendment to the Vienna Convention, which the Palestinians are using to challenge the United States’ Jerusalem embassy move. He added that the United States will be reviewing other international agreements as well.

“The United States will not sit idly by as baseless politicized claims are brought against us,” Bolton said.

Netanyahu, IAEA Trade Barbs Over Iran Nuclear Site

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu waves after his address to the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York, U.S., September 27, 2018. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) engaged in a war of words on Tuesday over whether or not the IAEA inspected the Iran nuclear site that Netanyahu publicly revealed on Sept. 27.

Netanyahu has accused the IAEA of failing to inspect the site, a claim that IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano rejected.

The Agency uses all safeguards relevant information available to it but it does not take any information at face value,” Amano said in an Oct. 2 statement. “In line with established safeguards practices, all information obtained, including from third parties, is subject to rigorous review and assessed together with other available information to arrive at an independent assessment based on the Agency’s own expertise. It is not the practice of the Agency to publicly discuss issues related to any such information.”

Amano added that “evaluations regarding the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities for Iran remain ongoing.”

“The Agency continues to evaluate Iran’s declarations under the Additional Protocol, and has conducted complementary accesses under the Additional Protocol to all the sites and locations in Iran which it needed to visit,” Amano said.

Netanyahu responded with a statement of his own:

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said in an Oct. 2 press conference that Israel will eventually release information about additional Iranian nuclear facilities.

Iran has denied that the facility Netanyahu revealed is a nuclear site.

Trump Speaks to U.N., Slams Iran for Creating ‘Chaos, Death and Disruption’

U.S. President Donald Trump sips Diet Coke from his wine glass after a toast as he sits beside Italy's Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte during a luncheon for world leaders at the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, U.S., September 25, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

President Trump slammed the Iranian regime for creating “chaos, death and disruption” in his Tuesday speech before the United Nations General Assembly.

Trump began the speech by stating that his “administration has accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of our country,” prompting laughter from the assembly.

“I did not expect that reaction,” Trump responded. “That is OK.”

Trump proceeded to tout his administration’s efforts to stand up “for America and the American people, and we are also standing up for the world”:

We are also standing up for our citizens and for peace- loving people everywhere. We believe that when nations respect the rights of their neighbors and defend the interests of their people, they can better work together to secure the blessings of safety, prosperity, and peace. Each of us here today is the emissary of a distinct culture, a rich history, and a people bound together by ties of memory, tradition, and the values that make our homelands like nowhere else on Earth.

That is why America will always choose independence and cooperation over global governance, and I honor the right of every nation in this room to pursue its own customs, beliefs and traditions. The United States will not tell you how to live, work, or worship. We only ask that you honor our sovereignty in return.

On North Korea, Trump highlighted the dismantling of facilities, releasing of hostages and return of the deceased soldiers as progress, but added that sanctions on North Korea would remain until full denuclearization occurs.

Trump eventually turned to Iran:

Iran’s leaders sew chaos, death and disruption. They do not respect their neighbors, borders, or the sovereign rights of nations. Instead, they plunder the nation’s resources to enrich themselves and to spread mayhem across the Middle East and far beyond. The Iranian people are rightly outraged that their leaders have embezzled billions of dollars from the treasury, seized valuable portions and looted the religious endowments to line their own pockets and to send their proxies to wage war. Iran’s neighbors have paid a heavy toll for the agenda of aggression and expansion.

Trump added that this was why he decided to exit from the Iran nuclear deal and re-impose sanctions on Iran.

We cannot allow the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism to possess the planet’s most dangerous weapons. We cannot allow a regime that chants “Death to America” and threatens Israel with annihilation,” Trumps said. “They cannot possess the means to deliver a nuclear warhead to any city on Earth, we just cannot do it. We ask all nations to isolate Iran’s regime as long as its aggression continues and we ask all nations to support Iran’s people as they struggle to reclaim their religious and righteous destiny.”

Trump also touted the Jerusalem embassy move and leaving the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC).

“I spoke before this body last year and warned that the UN’s Human Rights Council had become a grave embarrassment to this institution,” Trump said. “Shielding egregious human rights abusers while bashing America and its many friends.”

Trump added that the UNHRC had made no effort to reform itself, prompting the United States’ exit from the council until reform occurs.

The president also said that the United States would be holding the U.N. accountable by refusing to “pay more than 25 percent of the U.N. peacekeeping budget.”

Read the full transcript of the speech here.

Bolton Threatens Sanctions Against ICC

National Security Adviser John Bolton discusses "Protecting American Constitutionalism and Sovereignty from International Threats," at a forum hosted by the Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies in Washington, U.S. September 10, 2018. REUTERS/Eric Thayer

John Bolton, President Trump’s National Security Adviser, threatened sanctions against the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Monday in response to the entity’s potential investigation into the United States for alleged war crimes in Afghanistan.

At a Federalist Society luncheon, Bolton declared that the court has no jurisdiction over the United States and its allies and called the ICC “illegitimate.”

The International Criminal Court unacceptably threatens American sovereignty and U.S. national security interests,” Bolton said.

Bolton added, “If the court comes after us, Israel or other U.S. allies, we will not sit quietly.”

The ICC called Bolton’s statement “shocking” and said they would be “undeterred” by it.

I think what the U.S. is promoting is a sense of the ‘righteousness’ and being above the law,” ICC representative Amal Nasser told the Chicago Tribune in an email.

Israel recently protested against the ICC for launching an investigation into alleged war crimes committed by Israel against the Palestinians; the Palestinian Authority is a member of the ICC despite not being an official state. The United States U.S and Israel are among the countries that do not recognize the ICC as a legitimate body.

U.N. ECOSOC Votes Down Amendment Calling for Hamas to Release Captured Israelis

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

The United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) overwhelmingly voted down an amendment to a resolution calling for Hamas to release captured Israelis.

According to the Jerusalem Post, the resolution heavily criticized Israel and called on the Jewish state to stop building settlements and allow unfettered crossings at the Gaza border. No blame was placed upon Hamas for its role in the conflict.

In response, Israel proposed a one-line amendment that advocated for Hamas to release the two Israeli civilians they were holding in captivity, as well as the bodies of two Israeli soldiers. Israeli Ambassador Danny Danon argued that the two Israelis held by Hamas “mentally disabled and in need of immediate medical attention.”

The amendment was voted down 18-5, with 23 abstentions.

Every member of the European Union (EU) abstained from the amendment, prompting Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon to tweet that the EU’s move was “disappointing.”

The EU instead put forward text that called for all bodies being held in the Israel-Palestinian conflict to be released. That text was subsequently approved by ECOSOC.

The resolution passed by a margin of 45 votes in favor and two against, with the only countries voting against it being the United States and Canada.

U.S. ECOSOC Ambassador Kelley Currie slammed the resolution for being “unbalanced” and “unfairly” criticizing Israel

“This document only serves to inflame both sides of the conflict and complicate our shared goal of advancing Israeli and Palestinian peace,” Currie said.

Hamas acknowledged that it was holding the four Israelis in 2016, two years after they captured them. The two Israeli civilians, Avraham Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed, were captured after climbing the Israel-Gaza fence. Mengistu’s family has described him as “unwell” due to his mental health issues; similarly al-Sayed “has mild psychological issues and has a history of entering Jordan, Egypt and Gaza,” per the Times of Israel.

The two Israeli soldiers, Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin, were killed in the 2014 Israel-Hamas conflict.

According to U.N. Watch, ECOSOC is the gatekeeper body that decides who goes on the U.N. Human Rights Council Countries with documented human rights violations, such as China, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela, are represented on ECOSOC.

Haley Slams Arab Countries for Not Helping Palestinian People: ‘Talk Is Cheap’

REUTERS/Mike Segar/File Photo

Nikki Haley, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, challenged Arab nations that frequently criticize Israel at the United Nations to help the Palestinian people.

In a July 24 U.N. Security Council session, Haley began her remarks by defending Israel’s strikes against Hamas in Gaza, pointing out that the size of damage caused by Hamas’ incendiary kites and balloons is equivalent to the size of Connecticut.

“While the international media pays very careful attention to every step Israel takes in self-defense, we must not lose sight of very real damage that is being done to Israel from terrorist attacks coming from Gaza,” Haley said.

Haley then noted how various countries – particularly Arab countries – claim to stand with the Palestinian people in their various speeches in the U.N.

“If those words were useful in the schools, the hospitals and the streets of their communities, the Palestinian people would not be facing the desperate conditions we are discussing here today,” Haley said. “Talk is cheap.”

Haley added that such talk only gets “the international community riled up.”

The U.S. ambassador highlighted funding of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), pointing out that countries like Iran, Algeria and Tunisia haven’t put a single penny into UNRWA. Other countries like Pakistan and Egypt contribute thousands of dollars to UNRWA –– by comparison, the United States gave $364 million the U.S. gave to UNRWA in 2017.

“Words at the United Nations or actions on the streets and in the schools of Palestinian communities: which matters more?” Haley asked. “Judging by the vitriol that is directed toward the United States from the Palestinian representatives – including the one here today – and from some of their allies, one might fairly conclude that our support is unappreciated or unwelcomed.”

Haley added, “We continue to seek out ways to help the Palestinian people, whose plight is of genuine concern to us. But we’re not fools. If we extend a hand in friendship and generosity, we do not expect our hand to be bitten. And as we extend our hand, we expect others to extend their hands as well.”

Haley then asked why Arab countries don’t condemn Hamas for their terrorist activities or seek to reconcile warring Palestinian factions.

“The Palestinian leadership has been allowed to live a false reality for too long because Arab leaders are afraid to tell them the truth,” Haley said. “The United States is telling the truth because we do care about the Palestinian people.”

Her full speech can be seen below:

UN General Assembly Censures Israel’s Actions Against Gaza

United Nations General Assembly hall in New York City.

The United Nations General Assembly voted in favor of a draft resolution censuring Israel on Wednesday.

The 193-member body adopted “Protection of the Palestinian Civilian Population,” following heated debate. The resolution, which censured Israel’s recent actions in Gaza, passed with a vote of 120-8, with 45 abstentions, the Jerusalem Post reported.

Prior to the vote, Danny Danon, Israel’s permanent representative to the United Nations, told the General Assembly support for the resolution amounted to support for Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip.

“By supporting this resolution, you are a supporting a terrorist organization,” Danon said. “You are empowering Hamas.”

Over the last two months, Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip have held weekly demonstrations at the Israel-Gaza border. Israel has responded to the often-violent protests with military force, resulting in the death of more than 120 Palestinians.

Many of the Palestinians who have been killed in the protests are involved with Hamas, a terrorist organization. Hamas has resorted to unconventional tactics in its latest flare-ups with Israel. The organization has flown kites, set ablaze, into Israel, resulting in agricultural damage inside of Israel.

Many of the protests at the Israel-Gaza border coincided with the U.S. relocation of its embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem last month.

On Wednesday, Danon lambasted the General Assembly for putting forth the resolution, which makes no mention of Hamas.

“I have a simple message for those who support this resolution today: You are the ammunition for Hamas’ guns,” he said. “You are the warheads for Hamas’ missiles.”

Opposed to the resolution’s omission of Hamas, U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley proposed an amendment to the resolution, one condemning Hamas. Haley’s amendment garnered a simple majority—62-58, with 42 abstentions—but needed a two-thirds majority to pass.

Prior to the vote on the amendment, Algeria’s representative to the U.N. called the amendment irrelevant to the goal of the resolution and called for a no-action motion on the U.S.’s amendment.

Encouraging member states of the General Assembly to support her amendment, Haley called Hamas’ actions against Israel “counterproductive to peace.”

Joanne Adamson, deputy head of the European Union delegation to the United Nations, called on Israel to use more proportional measures when responding to violence at its border.

“Israel must respect the rights to peaceful protests and ensure the use of proportional measures when protecting its legitimate security interests,” Adamson said. “We urge all parties to take immediate steps to deescalate the situation and to act with utmost restraint to avoid further loss of life.”

“We condemn the firing of rockets from Gaza into Israel,” Adamson added.

Algeria and Turkey, on behalf of the Arab League and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, put forward the text of the resolution, which condemns Israel’s “excessive use of force” in Gaza.

Letters to the Editor: Honoring Jews, Laying Out the Parameters of Liberalism and the U.N.

Honoring Jews, Not Those Who Would Kill Them

Last week, while the rest of Jewish Los Angeles was memorializing the 6 million Jews murdered in the Holocaust, a group of Jews held a memorial in front of the Jewish Federation building to honor the memory of those with the stated goal of murdering the 6 million Jews of Israel — the Palestinians killed in the recent Gaza protests while trying to break down Israel’s security wall to accomplish their goal.

Thank you, David Suissa, for your column “When Truth Comes Marching In” (April 13) and clearly showing the truth — that contrary to what the Palestinians are promoting, the Gaza protests had the sole purpose of breaking down the border wall, murdering Jews and conquering Israel.

Let us never forget the 6 million, and also that, sadly, there are Jews who see nothing wrong with honoring those who try to wipe Israel’s Jews off the earth.

Jason Kay via email

Bravo, kol ha kvod, David Suissa, for “When Truth Comes Marching In.”

However, most of us, whoever we are, don’t listen to facts. We react to myths and media. We only pay heed to facts when pain hits us in the gut — and even then we don’t believe it. Corruption does that to anyone.

Look at your prime example, Gaza.

Linda Hepner via email

David Suissa is right that Israel’s “better” than her Muslim neighbors (“A ‘Better’ Word for Israel,” April 20). Rising from the ashes of the Holocaust, surrounded by enemies, constantly terrorized and fighting for her life, bullied by the U.N., yet still absorbing millions of desperate European and Ethiopian Jewish refugees, and on top of all that, emerging in just 70 years as a cutting-edge, hydro-agricultural, high-tech wunderkind with 12 Nobel Prizes and a super-hip tourist scene to boot — Israel is an unbelievable miracle. And the icing on the cake is that it drives anti-Semites nuts.

Rueben Gordon, Encino


Laying Out Parameters of Liberalism

I was happy and delighted to read Karen Lehrman Bloch’s column (“I Am a Liberal. Are You?” April 20). It boosts my faith in the integrity and honesty of the Journal.

The only thing I would add to it is the following statement:

You are not a liberal

If you reflexively accuse anyone who dares to disagree with you of being a fascist, a racist and an anti-Semite.

I have witnessed some otherwise very intelligent people making these accusations against people whom they know little or nothing about. This kind of behavior is polarizing and degrades our democracy.

Jeffrey P. Lieb, Cheviot Hills

I have always enjoyed reading Karen Lehrman Bloch’s columns, but “I Am a Liberal. Are You?” really blew me away. It was so spot on and expressed so elegantly what so many of us feel but can’t put into words as succinctly. Thank you.

Also, mazel tov to David Suissa for turning the Journal into a top-tier newspaper that Los Angeles can be proud of.

Miriam Fisher via email


Yom HaAzmaut Coverage in the Journal

Israel’s Independence Day (Yom HaAtzmaut) should have been on your cover, not on page 19 (“Carry a Torch,” April 20)! This was a major failure. Maybe it happened because the editor was in Israel that week. As your columnist Shmuel Rosner put it, “The fifth day of the month of Iyar is your Independence Day. Yes — yours! And by this I mean you, Los Angeles Jews; you, New York Jews; you, Chicago Jews, Sydney Jews, London Jews, Paris Jews.

“Next Year in Jerusalem.”

Bob Kirk, Santa Barbara

Editor’s note: Because HaAzmaut fell on the day the paper came out, April 19, we chose to do a Yom HaAzmaut cover story the week before.


Speaking Truth to U.N.’s Mission

Aaron Bandler’s column is right on target (“We Need a New U.N.,” April 20). He expresses so well what I have thought for many years. And, I am sure, millions of others agree — i.e., the United Nations makes a false pretense to serve the mission for which it was founded.

The U.N. charter called for a commitment to uphold human rights of citizens and outlines a broad set of principles relating to achieving worldwide peace and security. It calls for “higher standards of living,” dealing with “economic, social, health, and related problems,” and calling for “universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language or religion.

Wonderful! But that was in 1945 when it was created with 51 members. Currently, it has 193 member states.

In this regard, what good has the U.N. accomplished?

By way of example, CNN’s Jake Tapper’s analysis of the pertinent data vividly shows that, from 2012-15, the U.N. General Assembly rebuked and condemned the State of Israel almost 86 percent of the time — compared with all other nations combined. Incredible — considering the turmoil and government-controlled killings all over the world. As far as Israel is concerned: The U.N. is guilty of blatant discrimination. As it is today, it unashamedly violates its own charter and raison d’etre.

Should our country be donating annually almost $8 billion of taxpayers’ money to such an organization? (We could easily solve the homelessness problem and affordable housing crisis with that kind of money.)

The headline for Bandler’s column says it so well: “We Need a New U.N.”

George Epstein via email


Mitzi Shore Will Be Missed

Thank you for the wonderful obituary and tribute regarding Mitzi Shore.
The Comedy Store continues to be a platform for fledgling and professional comedians. I know, because my son is one of them. This is an iconic place that supports and encourages the art of stand-up. It deserves the support of the entertainment community.

Although I never met Shore, one night when my son Josh was performing, the staff let me sit in Mitzi’s booth. It was an honor.

I hope The Comedy Store continues for many years as a legacy to Shore and all the performers past, present and future.

Linda Meyrowitz via email


AND FROM FACEBOOK:

Here in Finland and in Sweden, the newspapers cry over how it could go this wrong — “peaceful” Palestinian demonstrators against “cruel” Israeli soldiers. They love to misunderstand what Palestinians really want, which is to take over the Jewish state. They even pretend not to understand what the “Great March of Return” means.

Carita Fogde, Helsinki

A ‘Better’ Word for Israel

There’s something inexplicable about Israel. On the surface, we know it’s one of the most maligned countries on earth. If I told you that the U.N. General Assembly adopted 97 resolutions that singled out a specific country for condemnation from 2012 to 2015, and that 83 of those were against Israel, you might yawn, right? So what else is new?

But as the Journal’s Aaron Bandler mentions in a column this week, CNN’s Jake Tapper wasn’t too jaded to tell his viewers:

“Considering the genocide of the Rohingya people in Myanmar, the lack of basic human rights in North Korea, the children starving in the streets of Venezuela, the citizens of Syria targeted for murder by their own leader using the most grotesque and painful weapons, you have to ask, is Israel deserving of 86 percent of the world’s condemnation?”

Of course not, but we already knew that. In any case, the extreme bashing of Israel is not the point of this column — which I happen to be writing from Israel this week. My point is to understand what makes Israel tick, in particular: How does a country function when it’s so hated?

The first thing that comes to mind is “busyness.” Everyone in Israel seems superbusy, whether they’re working, playing,  praying or arguing. It’s like when people go through a difficult time — a divorce, a job loss, etc. — and friends tell them, “It’s important to always stay busy,” because the more one wallows in angst, the worse things get.

I’ve been walking around the streets of Tel Aviv for the past couple of days — the kind of thing I’ve done hundreds of times over the years, in areas throughout the country — and I’ve been struck again by this Israeli busyness. They might have read this morning that some famous singer has canceled a performance under pressure from BDS, but they’re too busy to let it affect their reality. There’s a family to feed, a party to plan, a cause to advance, a film to complete, an argument to win, a country to protect.

I’m sure it annoys many Israelis to live in the most condemned country on earth, but since this is not a problem they can solve, they just move on to other concerns, like their daily lives.

I’m sure it annoys many Israelis to live in the most condemned nation on earth, but since this is not a problem they can solve, they just move on to other concerns, like their daily lives.

But there’s something else. Israelis are busy because they have the freedom to live as they wish. This freedom is a rare commodity in their neighborhood. On the  Freedom House website, a chart from 2013 shows 18 countries in the Middle East and North Africa. Twelve are listed as “not free,” five are listed as “partially free,” and one is listed as “free.” Can you guess which country is free?

Here’s how Freedom House summarized the state of the region:

“The Middle East and North Africa holds some of the worst records of freedom of expression in the world. Many countries in the region lack legal protection for human rights and the rule of law is undermined by a lack of independent judiciaries.

“The 2011 Arab Spring popular protests brought hope for improvements but devastating wars, foreign intervention and instability have since made it an extremely dangerous environment for journalists, civil society and human rights defenders, forcing millions to leave in search of safety.”

Note the absurdity: The one country out of 18 deemed “free” gets 86 percent of the U.N.’s condemnations. Israelis must feel this absurdity. They know they live in a messy, flawed country that is far from perfect, but they also feel the blatant injustice of being singled-out for condemnation more than any other country.

What’s more, they know they live in a free country where they can express themselves anyway they like. Arab Israelis, for example, are free to publicly mourn Israel’s most joyous day of the year, its Day of Independence, as their official Nakba, or catastrophe.

Notwithstanding that freedom, my guess is that most of those Arab-Israelis would not want to leave this “catastrophe” for one of those “partially free” or “not free” Arab countries. In fact, in a poll conducted last year by the Israel Democracy Institute, 66 percent of Arab Israelis said they see Israel’s situation as “good” or “very good,” while 57 percent said their personal situation was “good” or “very good.”

Which brings me to the “B” word: Better.

A society that allows you the freedom to express yourself is better than one that doesn’t. On that level, yes, Israel is better.

“Better” is one of those politically incorrect words you never want to say in polite company. Different, yes, but not better. If you claim, for example, that Country A is better than Country B, someone might get offended and say, “Who gives you the right to judge?”

Well, in the case of Israel, the world does. If groups like the U.N. have enough chutzpah to treat one country, Israel, worse than all others, then Israel can certainly push back with this simple truth: A society that allows you the freedom to express yourself is better than one that doesn’t. On that level, yes, Israel is better.

It’s a tragic irony that this “better” country of the Middle East is also the most reviled. But Israelis are not agonizing over this state of affairs. They’re too busy expressing themselves.

State Department Spokesperson Condemns U.N. for Letting Syria Chair Disarmament Forum

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert condemned the United Nations’ (U.N.) decision to allow Syria to chair the organization’s disarmament forum in May.

In response to U.N. Watch’s question on the matter, Nauert called the U.N. decision an “outrage.”

“That would be an outrage if Syria were to take control of that,” Nauert said. “We have seen these types of things happen at the United Nations before, where suspicious countries, countries that run against everything that an individual committee should stand for, will then head up that committee.”

Nauert added that she didn’t know what United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley is going to do in response to this U.N. decision.

Hillel Neuer, the president of U.N. Watch, called out European countries for not speaking out against the U.N. on this matter.

“If UK, France, Germany & others stay silent as Syria assumes presidency of UN’s Conference on Disarmament—the body which produced the treaty against chemical weapons—this will make a mockery of everything they said this week,” Neuer tweeted.

U.N. Watch first reported that Syria would chair the disarmament forum on April 9, a move that Neuer called the equivalent of “putting a serial rapist in charge of a women’s shelter.”

“The Assad regime’s documented use of chemical weapons remains the most serious violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention in the treaty’s twenty-year history,” Neuer said. “We urge the UN to understand that at a time when Syria is gassing its own men, women, and children to death, to see Syria heading the world body that is supposed to protect these victims will simply shock the conscience of humanity.”

The U.N. Watch article noted that U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres will likely claim that Syria chairing the forum is due to “an automatic rotation, and that the matter can only be addressed by member states.” But Neuer noted that the U.N. has spoken out against such committee decisions and that’s what they should do here; however he speculated that the U.N. will likely just allow itself to be “exploited” by Syria into allowing them to keep their position as chair of the forum.

“Syria’s use of deadly chemical weapons and its illegal pursuit of nuclear weapons, in breach of its disarmament obligations, run counter to the objectives and fundamental principles of the Conference on Disarmament itself,” Neuer said. “Syria’s chairmanship will only undermine the integrity of both the disarmament framework and of the United Nations, and no country should support that.”

The news about Syria chairing the disarmament just after Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad reportedly used chemical weapons against his own people in the town of Douma, resulting in at least 40 people dead and hundreds of others wounded. Assad’s chemical weapons attack is the latest of a long line of butchery committed by Assad against his own people.

We Need a New U.N.

Photo from Flickr.

Another week, another Israel bashing session at the United Nations.

Following the Hamas-led riots at the Israel-Gaza border on Friday that resulted in at least 16 dead, the U.N. Security Council responded by drafting a resolution calling for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) to be investigated for the various Palestinian deaths. The resolution was vetoed by the United States, but the fact that the U.N. yet again put the blame on Israel instead of on the terror group Hamas, who are using civilians as human shields in an attempt to wage a war with Israel, is disgraceful.

This is par for the course for the Israel-hating U.N. On March 23, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) passed a resolution calling for an arms embargo against Israel due to the Jewish state’s so-called “occupation” of East Jerusalem. The UNHRC has a bad habit of denouncing Israel at least once a week, the same UNHRC that consists of countries like Venezuela, China and Cuba, which aren’t exactly halcyons of human rights.

Then there are the reported anti-Semitic Facebook posts from United Nations Refugee and Works Agency (UNRWA) teachers, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) declaring the Jewish holy sites in Jerusalem and Hebron as belonging to the Palestinians… the list goes on and on.

The statistics prove it too: CNN’s Jake Tapper pointed out in December that the U.N. General Assembly adopted 97 resolutions that singled out a specific country from 2012-15. The number that singled out Israel: 83.

“Considering the genocide of the Rohingya people in Myanmar, the lack of basic human rights in North Korea, the children starving in the streets of Venezuela, the citizens of Syria targeted for murder by their own leader using the most grotesque and painful weapons, you have to ask, is Israel deserving of 86% of the world’s condemnation?” Tapper said.

I would go a bit further: what does the U.N. do well, exactly?

It certainly doesn’t do well addressing actual human rights abuses, like the ones Tapper cited. Former U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has admitted that the international body “could have done much more” to stop the Rwanda genocide.

What about Russian and Chinese aggression? The U.N. tribunal’s 2016 ruling that China has no sovereign claim over the entirety of the South China sea has done nothing to stop Beijing from ramping up military exercises in the area. Similarly, the U.N. has done little to curb Vladimir Putin’s intervention into the Crimea.

Reminder: Russia and China wield veto power on the U.N. Security Council, preventing any real action to be taken on Syria, North Korea and Iran.

What about global poverty? A 2012 study conducted by New York University’s William Easterly and Mississippi State University’s Claudia Williamson concluded that the U.N.’s aid practices are toward the bottom among aid agencies worldwide. And as Chelsea Follett of HumanProgress noted, the U.N. is touting top-down, centralized government programs as the source for the decline in global poverty when in actuality it is economic freedom that has caused the dramatic decline in poverty.

The environment? A 2017 New York Times article detailed how the U.N.’s Green Climate Fund was established to help impoverished countries deal with climate changes, yet the money raised by the fund have gone toward questionable private sector projects instead of those countries. And the U.N.’s prized Paris Climate Accords’ impact on the climate would be negligible while harming the U.S. economy.

Peacekeeping? How can the U.N. be trusted in this area when their peacekeepers have been accused of sexually abusing women and girls in various countries and have been cited as the cause of the 2010 cholera outbreak in Haiti?

With all this mind, is the U.N. really worth the nearly $8 billion that the U.S. allocates toward the international body?

The unfortunate truth is that the U.N. is a far cry from the bastion of freedom that the Allied powers intended when they first formed the international body in 1942 to fight the Axis powers. Freedom-loving countries like the U.S. and Israel are the minority in the U.N.; so long as that is the case, no reforms will solve the structurally flawed nature of the incompetent and immoral U.N.

 

This is what I’d love to see on the Global to-do list: Creating a new world body that will do justice to the ideals of the United Nations, an organization that has dishonored its very mission.

Haley Rips U.N. At AIPAC for Their ‘Bullying’ of Israel

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nation Nikki Haley is pictured on board a helicopter at the Air Force Base in Guatemala City, Guatemala March 1, 2018. REUTERS/Luis Echeverria NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES.

United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley tore into the U.N. at American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC)’s conference in Washington, D.C. for “bullying” Israel.

Haley explained how she was initially skeptical about taking the position as ambassador to the U.N. since her political experience has mainly been as a governor, but she was sold on the job when she told President Trump that she would be speaking her mind at all times. Trump’s response: “That’s exactly why I want you to do this.”

On her first day on the job, she told Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. Danny Danon the December 2016 resolution that slapped Israel for building settlements in Judea and Samaria “would never happen again” under Haley.

Leading into her experience at the U.N. thus far, Haley explained how at times her family experienced bullying as an Indian immigrant family in South Carolina, leading her to establish an anti-bullying program when she became governor of the state.

“For me it was just so fundamental: you don’t pick on someone just because they look different than you,” Haley said. “You don’t pick on someone just because they think differently than you or because you can.”

Haley added, “This idea has always been with me when I was child, but I didn’t think it would come to play at the United Nations.”

Haley claimed that the U.N. shows constant bias against Israel, citing the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as an example.

“UNESCO recently declared one of Judaism’s holiest sites, the Tomb of the Patriarchs, as a Palestinian heritage site in need of protection from Israel,” Haley said. “That was enough. Ten months into this administration, the United States withdrew from UNESCO.”

Haley also reiterated her support for President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

“Jerusalem was, is, and will always be the capital of Israel,” Haley said. “This was not something that was created by an American decision; America did not make Jerusalem Israel’s capital. What President Trump did, to his great credit, was recognize a reality that American presidents had denied for too long.”

Haley concluded her speech with poignant words against the U.N.

“Israel must be treated like any other normal country,” Haley said. “We will continue to demand that Israel not be treated like some sort of temporary provisional entity.”

“It cannot be the case that only one country in the world doesn’t get to choose its capital city. It cannot be the case that the U.N. Human Rights Council has a standing agenda item for only one country. It cannot be the case that only one set of refugees throughout the world is counted in a way that causes the number to grow forever. It cannot be the case that in an organization with 193 countries, the United Nations spends half of its time attacking only one country. We will not accept it any longer.”

Her full speech can be seen below:

Washington Free Beacon reporter Alex Griswold tweeted that Haley garnered the most applause at AIPAC:

According to Haaretz, AIPAC attendees viewed her as their “Wonder Woman” and even the next president of the United States.

Abbas Criticizes US and Israel in UN speech; Haley Fires Back

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a meeting of the UN Security Council at UN headquarters in New York, U.S., February 20, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas gave a speech at the United Nations on Feb. 20 criticizing the United States and Israel on hampering peace negotiations.

Abbas railed against the Trump administration’s actions on recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and cutting funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA).

“In a dangerous, unprecedented manner, this administration undertook an unlawful decision which was rejected by the international community to remove the issue of Jerusalem off the table without any reason,” Abbas said.

The PA president added, “This administration has not clarified its position. Is it a two-state solution, or the one-state solution?”

Abbas then claimed that the Palestinians have a historical connection to Israeli land.

“We are descendants of the Canaanites that lived in Palestine 5,000 years ago, and have continuously remained there to this day,” Abbas said.

Abbas also went after Israel for being a “permanent settlement colonization.”

“We are working for the occupation, we are employees for the occupation, and we say that Israel must be held to its obligations as an occupying power,” Abbas said.

Abbas advocated for Palestine to have full member status at the U.N. and for a two-state solution mediated by a “multilateral international mechanism.”

Abbas walked out of the room when he was finished speaking, prompting Haley to remark to the PA president, “Our negotiators are sitting right behind me, ready to talk. But we will not chase after you. The choice, Mr. President, is yours.”

“The United States knows the Palestinian leadership was very unhappy with the decision to move our embassy to Jerusalem,” Haley added. “You don’t have to like that decision. You don’t have to praise it. You don’t even have to accept it. But know this: that decision will not change.”

Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. Danny Danon criticized Abbas for inspiring “a culture of hate in Palestinian society.”

“When we extend a hand, Abbas extends a fist,” Danon said.

UN Watch Leader Faces a World of Challenges While Defending Israel

Photo courtesy of U.N. Watch

Hillel Neuer considers it a badge of honor that he is a “feared and dreaded” figure at the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC), as the European newspaper Tribune de Genève once described him.

“There are people who cross the street in Geneva to avoid me,” Neuer said. As executive director of UN Watch, a nonprofit that monitors United Nations activities, Neuer is both watchdog and whistleblower, holding world powers to account when it comes to their human rights records. A lawyer, activist and humanitarian, Neuer spoke with the Journal from Geneva, where he lives and works.

Jewish Journal: As head of UN Watch, you define yourself as “the voice of conscience at the United Nations.” What’s it like to be the guy defending democratic ideals in a room full of non-democratic countries?

Hillel Neuer: It often feels surreal. You ask yourself how bizarre is it that you need to state basic truths in an arena that is often Orwellian, where the worst criminals are often the prosecutors and the judges.

JJ: The U.N. Human Rights Council notoriously singles out Israel for violations even as far worse offenders go unchallenged. Where is this discrimination most evident?

HN: During a given meeting, you’ll have resolutions — maybe one on Iran, one on Myanmar, one on North Korea and then five on Israel. And it’s not just the numbers: When there is a resolution criticizing a country, the practice at the U.N. is to recognize and acknowledge various positive things [a country has done], whether they are justified or not. But when it comes to Israel, even though Israel has done many positive things, none of this ever appears in the resolutions. This is part of an attempt to portray Israel as so evil, nothing good can be said of it.

“I’m the most hated man at the United Nations. I get looks of death from a vast array of people.”

JJ: What is the motive for a non-Arab, non-Islamic country with no history of anti-Semitism to vote against Israel?

HN: The U.N. is a political body and many resolutions and elections are decided by vote trading. ‘You vote for me, I vote for you.’ So the Islamic states number 56 and they will go to some island state and say, ‘We will give you 56 votes for your issues and all you have to do is vote for our resolutions against Israel.’ … It’s realpolitik.

JJ: It sounds like the Arab and Islamic states have outsized power at the U.N.

HN: Since the 1973 war [when the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, better known as OPEC] imposed an oil embargo, the Arab world has been clear that if you don’t do things they like, your country won’t have oil. Sovereign wealth funds from countries like Qatar have tens of billions of dollars they could invest in your country if you vote the way they want you to. There is also fear of terrorism. Some countries perceive that if they are too friendly to Israel, they will risk making themselves into a target for terrorist groups.

JJ: U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley has won many fans in the Jewish world for standing up for Israel at the U.N. What difference has she made?

HN: There’s been a moral clarity. She’s been forthright in calling out what she sees as plain bigotry and things that make no sense. Seeing her hand raised to veto [the recent Jerusalem resolution] was a very powerful moment. An iconic picture, I would say.

JJ: Is your credibility ever challenged because you’re Jewish?

HN: I’m the most hated man at the United Nations. I get looks of death from a vast array of people — dictatorships like China, Russia and Cuba because we bring their victims [to testify] very effectively and ambush them. But at the end of day, I don’t walk through life worrying what my handicaps are. We all have them.

JJ: As a human rights organization sworn to defend Israel, how do you address Israel’s offenses against the Palestinians?

HN: Even if I’m aware Israel has blots on its record, I’m going to speak out against human rights abuses in Syria, Libya, Yemen, Venezuela. That’s our role. We’re there to deal with the subjects not being dealt with. Israel has dozens of NGOs [nongovernmental organizations] that hold the [government and] IDF [Israel Defense Forces] to account. We fill the void in Geneva.

JJ: What could Israel do to help your work combatting the prejudice against it?

HN: On the day of [Israeli] elections a few years ago, I had given a speech telling the world to look at Israeli democracy in action, explaining that more Arabs than ever had been elected to the Knesset, etc. … And then [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu made that xenophobic statement, ‘Arab voters are heading to the polling stations in droves,’ which was unhelpful to me. And I told his government that immediately.

Nikki Haley: We Will Be Calling for an Emergency Session Over Iran Protests

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley speaks during the United Nations Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East, including Palestine, at U.N. Headquarters in New York City, New York, U.S., December 18, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Nikki Haley, the United States ambassador to the United Nations, voiced her support for the protesters in Iran on Tuesday and added that the United States will be calling for a United Nations emergency session on the matter.

Speaking at a press conference at the United Nations headquarters in New York City, Haley praised the protesters for standing up to the “oppression of their own government.”

“It takes great bravery for the Iranian people to use the power of their voice against their government, especially when their government has a long history of murdering its own people who dare to speak the truth,” said Haley, “so we applaud the tremendous courage of the Iranian people.”

Haley pointed out that the Iranian regime has blocked off social media in an attempt to silence their protests, so Haley shared some of the messages from the protesters, which included:

·      “Political prisoners must be freed!”

·      “Let go of Syria, think of us!”

·      “We will die, but we’ll take Iran back!”

Haley called the Iranian regime’s spin that the protests were manufactured by Iran’s enemies “complete nonsense.”

“The demonstrations are completely spontaneous,” said Haley. “They are virtually in every city in Iran. This is the precise picture of a long-oppressed people rising up against their dictators.”

Haley called for the U.N. to “speak out” against the Iranian regime for murdering and jailing numerous protesters.

“In the days ahead, we will be calling for an emergency session, both here in New York and at the Human Rights Council in Geneva,” said Haley. “We must not be silent. The people of Iran are crying out for freedom. All freedom-loving people must stand with their cause.”

Haley’s full speech can be seen below:

The protests in Iran against the mullahs in Tehran have been going for several days and have permeated throughout the country. Around 20 protesters have been murdered by the Iranian regime and over 450 have been arrested. The regime is also shutting down schools in response to the protests.

CNN Anchor Hammers U.N. for Anti-Israel Bias

Photo from Flickr/nrkbeta.

CNN anchor Jake Tapper criticized the United Nations for being biased against Israel in a segment on Thursday, as he blasted various countries for criticizing Israel despite having “questionable records.”

Tapper began his segment by summarizing the U.N.’s vote to condemn the Trump administration’s Jerusalem move by a margin of 128 votes in favor of the condemnation, nine against and 35 abstentions. The anchor proceeded to review the records of some of the countries who voted to condemn the move, starting with Venezuela.

“The U.S. imperils global peace, says the representative of Venezuela, a country in a humanitarian disaster,” said Tapper, “with violence in the streets, an economy in complete collapse, citizens malnourished, dying children being turned away from hospitals, starving families joining street gangs to scrounge for food.”

“On what moral platform does the government of Venezuela stand today?” asked Tapper.

Tapper also noted the irony of Syria and Yemen condemning the U.S. despite the fact that their citizens have been ravished by the civil wars plaguing each country, as well as other countries like Myanmar, North Korea and China condemning the move despite their heinous human rights abuses.

The anchor proceeded to highlight some statistics from U.N. Watch reflecting the U.N.’s bias against Israel.

“The United Nations General Assembly from 2012-2015 has adopted 97 resolutions specifically criticizing an individual country, and of those 97, 83 of them have focused on Israel,” said Tapper. “That is 86%.”

Tapper added, “Certainly Israel is not above criticism, but considering the genocide of the Rohingya people in Myanmar, the lack of basic human rights in North Korea, the children starving in the streets of Venezuela, the citizens of Syria targeted for murder by their own leader using the most grotesque and painful weapons, you have to ask, is Israel is deserving of 86% of the world’s condemnation?”

“Or possibly is something else afoot at the United Nations? Something that allows the representative of the Assad government lecture the United States for moving its embassy.”

The full segment can be seen below:

U.N. Denounces Trump’s Jerusalem Move in Vote

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley speaks during the United Nations Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East, including Palestine, at U.N. Headquarters in New York City, New York, U.S., December 18, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

The United Nations voted on a resolution to condemn President Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move the United States embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

The resolution passed by a margin of 128 in favor and 9 against, with 35 abstentions and 21 countries that didn’t vote at all. The nine countries who voted against the resolution were the United States, Israel, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Tongo, Honduras, Guatemala ans Palau. Among those voted in favor of the resolution included Britain, France, Germany and Turkey, and Canada and Mexico were among those that abstained.

Here is the full record of how each country voted:

Nikki Haley, the United States ambassador to the U.N., had some sharp words for the U.N.

“The United States will remember this day, in which it was singled out for attack in the General Assembly for the very act of exercising our right as a sovereign nation,” said Haley. “We will remember it when we are called upon to once again make the world’s largest contribution to the United Nations. And we will remember it when so many countries come calling on us, as they so often do, to pay even more and to use our influence for their benefit.”

Haley also pointed out that the U.S. “is by far the single largest contributor to the U.N.” and suggested that their funding to the U.N. could be reduced or withdrawn altogether in light of the vote.

“When we make generous contributions to the UN, we also have a legitimate expectation that our goodwill is recognize and respected,” said Haley. “When a nation is singled out for attack in this organization, that nation is disrespected. What’s more, that nation is asked to pay for the privilege of being disrespected. In the case of the US, we are asked to pay more than anyone else for that dubious privilege.”

Haley also criticized the U.N. as being “a hostile place for the state of Israel.”

“It’s a wrong that undermines the credibility of this institution and that, in turn, is harmful for the entire world,” said Haley.

Haley made it clear in her speech that the vote will not deter the U.S. from moving its embassy to Jerusalem.

On Wednesday, Trump suggested that the U.S. could reduce funding to countries that voted in favor of the resolution.

“They take hundreds of millions of dollars and even billions of dollars and then they vote against us,” said Trump. “Well, we’re watching those votes. Let them vote against us. We’ll save a lot. We don’t care.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also criticized the vote, blasting the U.N. as “the house of lies.” Netanyahu also thanked Trump, Haley and the countries that voted with Israel.

Journal columnist Ben Shapiro pointed out on Twitter that Thursday’s vote is in line with the U.N.’s record of anti-Israel bias:

 

Netanyahu Thanks Nikki Haley for Vetoing Anti-Israel Resolution

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gestures as he speaks during an event marking "The Appreciation for the Fallen of Israel's Wars and Victims of Terrorism Day" at the Knesset, Israeli parliament, in Jerusalem December 12, 2017. REUTERS/Ammar Awad

Israeli Prime Minister Benjaim Netanyahu put forward a video thanking Nikki Haley, the United States’ Ambassador to the United Nations, for vetoing an anti-Israel U.N. resolution.

The resolution, put forward by Egypt, would have rendered President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and his plan to eventually move the U.S. embassy there as “null and void” and prevented “the establishment of diplomatic missions” in Jerusalem.

But Haley prevented it from going into effect by wielding the U.S.’s veto power, and Netanyahu expressed his gratitude to her.

“On Hanukkah, you spoke like a Maccabi,” Netanyahu said in a video. “You lit a candle of truth. You dispel the darkness. One defeated the many. Truth defeated lies.”

When Haley issued the veto, she declared, “The United States will not be told by any country where we can put our embassy,” adding that “it’s scandalous to say we are putting back peace efforts.”

“The fact that this veto is being done in defense of American sovereignty and in defense of America’s role in the Middle East peace process is not a source of embarrassment for us,” said Haley. “It should be an embarrassment to the remainder of the Security Council.”

Danny Danon, the Israeli U.N. ambassador, also criticized the resolution.

“While the Jewish people celebrate the holiday of Hanukkah that symbolizes the eternal connection to Jerusalem, there are people who think that they can rewrite history,” said Danon. “It’s time for all countries to recognize that Jerusalem always was and always will be the capital of the Jewish people and the capital of Israel.”

Before the U.S. used its veto power, 14 countries voted in favor of the resolution, including Britain and France.

Can Jerusalem Be Good for All Religions?

In the middle of the euphoria and hysteria that greeted last week’s U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, it was a story about stolen apples that caught my eye.

According to Israeli news reports, an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) squad commander was suspended after being caught on film stealing apples from a Palestinian fruit stand in Hebron, which had been abandoned in the midst of the “days of rage” violence.

“This behavior is not in line with what is expected from a soldier and commander in the IDF,” a spokesperson said in a statement. “The commander was suspended and will face disciplinary action.”

I know, compared to everything that’s going on, a stolen apple or two is hardly worth a story. I can’t imagine any army in the world making a fuss about stolen fruit. But tiny story or not, the apple saga gives us a context to assess the explosive issue of who should control Jerusalem.

There’s no need to belabor the historical and religious context for recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish state. The Conservative movement, in a statement authored by the Rabbinical Assembly, the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, Masorti Israel and Masorti Olami, summarized it succinctly: “In recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and planning to move the American embassy to a location under uncontested Israeli sovereignty, the U.S. government acknowledges the age-old connection that Israel and the Jewish people maintain with the holy city.”

Let’s also remember that this past June, the U.S. Senate passed a unanimous resolution calling on President Donald Trump to abide by a 1995 law ordering the move of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. That law, called the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, recognized Jerusalem as “the spiritual center of Judaism” and was adopted overwhelmingly by the House (374-37) and the Senate (93-5).

The law cites the right of “each sovereign nation, under international law and custom, to designate its own capital,” and notes the irony that the U.S. “maintains its embassy in the functioning capital of every country except in the case of our democratic friend and strategic ally, the State of Israel.”

But it’s an innocuous mention in the Embassy Act that caught my attention: “From 1948-1967, Jerusalem was a divided city and Israeli citizens of all faiths as well as Jewish citizens of all states were denied access to holy sites in the area controlled by Jordan.”

That, for me, is the crucial link missing from this emotional debate: When East Jerusalem was under Jordanian control, religious liberty suffered. When it was under Israeli control, religious liberty flourished. You do the math.

As if it weren’t bad enough that Jews were denied access to their holy sites, under Jordanian control, “All but one of the 35 synagogues within the Old City were destroyed,” according to The Jewish Virtual Library. “The revered Jewish graveyard on the Mount of Olives was in complete disarray with tens of thousands of tombstones broken into pieces to be used as building materials … Hundreds of Torah scrolls and thousands of holy books [were] plundered and burned to ashes.”

Jordanian rule was no picnic for Christians and Muslims either. As Dore Gold writes in his book, “The Fight for Jerusalem,” Israeli Muslims “were blocked from visiting the Islamic holy shrines under Jordanian control” while “Israeli Christians did not fare much better; they were permitted to cross over and visit their holy sites once a year, on Christmas.”

All of this was in blatant violation of the 1949 Armistice Agreement, which gave Israelis of all faiths access to their holy sites, and which the United Nations was empowered to oversee.

When East Jerusalem was under Jordanian control, religious liberty suffered. When it was under Israeli control, religious liberty flourished. You do the math.

When did the U.N. finally intervene? In 1964, when Israel had the chutzpah to have a Hanukkah festival of lights display atop Mount Scopus, which it legally controlled. Why the U.N. intervention? Because of “Jordanian sensitivities.” You can’t make this stuff up.

So, forgive me if I have little sympathy for the professional hypocrites at the United Nations who are now portraying the confirmation of Israel’s capital city as another urgent crisis for humanity. They might do well to read an August 2015 report from the Washington Institute showing that the majority of Palestinian Arabs living in Israeli-ruled East Jerusalem would prefer to be citizens of Israel rather than citizens of a Palestinian state.

These Arabs are no fools. They know that since Israel took over East Jerusalem in 1967, it has protected all holy sites and created an open city that has become a global destination.

But none of that seems to matter to the critics of the embassy move. Perhaps the silliest criticism I’ve heard is that the announcement was “ill-timed” because it would hurt the “peace process.” That’s like saying a tap on the wrist would hurt a patient in a coma. What peace process? Everything the experts have tried has failed, including the delusional idea that the capital of Israel is an “open” question. It’s not. Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, full stop.

Such a cold dose of reality may, in fact, be just what the comatose peace process needs. What it does not need is the continuation of a failed strategy of appeasing corrupt Palestinian leaders who have refused all Israeli peace offers and who hold us hostage to their threats of violence.

Their latest reaction to Trump’s announcement is more evidence of their chronic refusal to accept a Jewish state under any borders. Nothing in the announcement precludes a two-state solution or the sharing of Jerusalem as a capital for two states. But instead of calling for peace talks, they call for violence. If Palestinian leaders cared for their people as much as they care for their personal bank accounts, we would have had peace a long time ago.

So, I’m sure it won’t surprise you that Jerusalem is the subject of our cover story, with an analysis from our political editor in Israel, Shmuel Rosner. It also won’t surprise you that local reactions in the Jewish community have been diverse, as you’ll see in our coverage.

My own take is that if we’re going to put Jerusalem in the hands of a sovereign nation, let it be a nation that respects the dignity of all religions — not to mention the dignity of an apple cart.

Letters to the Editor: U.N. 1947 vote, Roy Moore, PLO and ‘Wonder’

The Miracle of the UN’s 1947 Decision

While I enjoyed David Suissa’s editorial, I would correct one error: The date Nov. 29th is important enough to Israelis that streets are named after that date (“Homeless for 1,900 Years … and Then a U.N. Vote,” Dec. 1).

Louis Richter, Reseda


Where Does Truth Lie in Moore Controversy?

I see Ben Shapiro’s point in equating the sexual harassment allegations against Sen. Al Franken and Judge Roy Moore (“Roy and Al,” Nov. 24).

However, Al Franken was photographed with his victim on that USO Tour — caught in the act, clearly a crime. He has acknowledged that interaction and apologized. Other accusers have come forward, citing a propensity for his behavior.

Roy Moore, who is running in Alabama for a U.S. Senate seat, has vehemently denied any veracity to allegations by several accusers, 40 years after they supposedly occurred. His attorney requested to have the only tangible “evidence” — an autographed yearbook — belonging to accuser Beverly Young Nelson, be submitted for independent, forensic examination. The accuser’s attorney, Gloria Allred, has refused.

We have seen this mischief many times before.

Last year’s presidential campaign saw even The New York Times gather several women who had worked with Donald Trump. The slanted point of view of The New York Times was that Trump was a sexual harasser and unqualified for public office. The women, to their credit, immediately said that their comments were misconstrued and manipulated.

The current brouhaha with Moore was propagated by The Washington Post, another “leftist bastion.” After several statewide election campaigns in Alabama, why have these allegations of sexual impropriety against Moore not surfaced before? Why now, when Moore is leading in the race?

Allegations in the mainstream media grab attention, but where is truth?

Enriqué Gascon, Los Angeles


A Hanukkah Poem

Rock of ages
Mount Sinai’s thunders,
Angels whisper
Masada’s secrets of old.

Of freedom almost lost
In the City of Gold,
A Temple defiled
And Maccabees had restored.

The miracle of oil
A spark in our soul,
Liberty for all creeds
Letters on dreidels spins.

Holocaust’s nightmares
Never again shall repeat,
The promise of a rainbow
The waters that split.

The gathering of exiles
To their promised land,
Where mountains rejoiced
And bright stars tallied twelve once again.

Danny BenTal, Tarzana


How to Change the Mood in America

Another great editor’s note: “Make America Grateful Again” (Nov. 24). While reading it, I felt the uneasiness of David Suissa to “balance polarities.” And he is quite honest in describing the mood of this country. His first sentence is quite correct: “America is in a lousy mood.” I was myself in a worse than lousy mood for the past three years, so I can relate to that. And I know how difficult it is to get out of the “mess.”

I have always considered good journalists to be like the consciousness of the society and to be among its teachers. Yes, good teaching begins with asking questions. And the better teaching begins with asking the right or more important questions. For example: How can one change the mood for the better of a society of 300 million people?

I was born and lived most of my life in a socialist country. If most of my countrymen were grateful for and had faith in our leaders at that time, my country would have not changed toward democracy.

So, I am very grateful to live in a democratic society now.

Svetlozar Garmidolov, Los Angeles


Plight of the Rohingya Has Many Facets

Stephen D. Smith effectively shines the light on the plight of the innocent Rohingya living in Myanmar. However, he omits historical context which harshly judges the Buddhist government and fails to address its  legitimate  fears (“It’s Time to Speak Up for the Rohingya,” Dec. 1).

In the past millennium, approximately 80 million non-Muslims were killed by Muslim jihadists. Smith quotes the Polish Jew Raphael Lemkin and the 1933 Madrid conference, which tried to legislate against barbarity.

Ironically, Smith mentions the book “The Yellow Spot: The Destruction of the European Jews.” Smith seems unaware that Nazis borrowed the yellow Jewish badge from the Muslim practice adopted in the eighth century called the Pact of Umar, which relegated Jews and Christians to subservient class status beneath Muslims. Hitler heartily approved of the Muslim approach toward Jews.

Perhaps the words of history scholar Andrew Bostom best explain the current religious conflict in Myanmar: “The origins of the Bengali Muslim Jihad in Western Myanmar in the late 19th century through the World War II era, illustrates that it is rooted in Islam’s same tireless institution of expansionist Jihad which eliminated Buddhist civilization in Northern India.”

Richard Friedman, Culver City


PLO Hasn’t Changed Its Spots

The 1993 Oslo Accord recognized the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) as the sole representative of the Arabs of Palestine. This terrorist group was supposed to change its spots, but it has not.

In return for ignoring other Arab leaders and factions, it was invited to set up headquarters in Ramallah and to begin a peace process with Israel. It pledged to prepare the population for life alongside Israel and to end violence and enticement to violence. It also pledged not to attack Israel in international forums.

Well, it lied from Day One. It has rejected every peace offer from Israel, even those offered by Barack Obama’a administration. It is apparent the PLO/Fatah has manipulated everyone. It’s time for them to leave the stage. With support of major Arab League players and the United States, the Palestinians can find new leadership. If not, they will remain the world’s major welfare recipients and others will determine their fate.

Brian J. Goldenfeld, Woodland Hills


Jews, Christians Share Love of Israel

As the holiday season nears, I’m reminded how grateful I am that tens of millions of American Christians strongly support the State of Israel. It’s a miracle that so many Christians have reversed nearly two millennia of anti-Semitism and joined Jews in our pride and love for Israel.

Because Christian loyalty guarantees continued American support, vital for Israel’s survival, they have become our true brothers and sisters under God, and I welcome them with love and joy.

Happy Hanukkah and Merry Christmas!

Rueben Gordon, Calabasas


AND FROM FACEBOOK …

“‘Wonder’: A Call to Our Better Angels” (Dec. 1)

This is an excellent film. I find it sad and disgraceful that people use this film as the latest way to attack President Donald Trump. Why can’t we just enjoy a good film without someone dragging this nonsense into it?

Jay Lehman

“So many lessons to learn in this beautiful film. Well done.”

Marilyn Sommer

Homeless for 1,900 Years… and Then a U.N. Vote

When I left for Israel recently for a quick one-week trip to visit my son, I didn’t expect I’d be experiencing a cross section of Israeli society. We started in a funky hotel in Tel Aviv, where we were surrounded by hipsters, healing spas and fusion restaurants. Then, instead of spending Shabbat in Jerusalem (as I usually do), we were invited by my cousin, the mayor of Dimona, to spend Shabbat in his little town in the Negev Desert.

If Tel Aviv is SoHo, Dimona is Sinai. This is a desert town that looks like a desert town — humble, simple, hardworking. The majority of residents have Sephardic or Russian roots. Building housing is a top priority — there’s construction everywhere. There’s also plenty of faith: In a town of 40,000, there are about 70 synagogues.

After Dimona, we drove north to the mystical city of Tsfat, where we visited the graves of holy men like Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai. Tsfat is one of those places where every day feels like Shabbat. But in the midst of its devout enclaves, you’ll also find hip art galleries that celebrate beauty and not just Torah.

At each stop, we tasted a different Israel. We could have visited countless other places throughout the country and experienced similar diversity. This is part of the miracle of Israel — it changes everywhere you go. How could it not? Jews have come from all over the world to populate the Jewish state, joining the indigenous Jews and Arabs and Bedouins who were already here.

Today, more than 100 nationalities are represented in this tiny country. There’s even a group of African-Americans known as the Black Hebrews, who believe they are descendants of the ancient Israelites. Many of them live in Dimona, where I got to meet one of their leaders, Prince Immanuel Ben-Yehuda. The prince told me he grew up in Oklahoma, where his parents taught him the Old Testament and to love the land of Israel. (I filmed our interview and will post it on jewishjournal.com.)

The seeds of Arab rejection and animosity were planted from the very beginning.

In one short week, I tasted the multicultural miracle of Israel, a miracle that would never have happened had it not been for another miracle that preceded it 70 years ago — a vote at the United Nations. This seminal event, which is the subject of this week’s cover story by historian Gil Troy, is not without its complications.

On the Saturday night of Nov. 29, 1947, the newly formed United Nations General Assembly gathered in New York at the Queens Museum to vote on Resolution 181, which called for the partition of the British-ruled Palestine Mandate into a Jewish state and an Arab state. After weeks of endless drama and lobbying for votes, the final tally was 33 member states voting in favor, 13 against and 10 abstaining.

The Jewish state was on its way.

But as you’ll see in our cover story, the drama was only starting. The seeds of Arab rejection and animosity were planted from the very beginning. This rejection was so loud and threatening that the resolution itself expressed concern:

“The [British] Government of Palestine fear that strife in Palestine will be greatly intensified when the Mandate is terminated, and that the international status of the United Nations Commission will mean little or nothing to the Arabs in Palestine, to whom the killing of Jews now transcends all other considerations. Thus, the Commission will be faced with the problem of how to avert certain bloodshed on a very much wider scale than prevails at present ….”

As the historian Troy writes, the resolution was “cursed” by the adamant Arab rejection of a plan that could have brought “70 years of peace.” Instead, it has brought 70 years of conflict that continues to this day. As fate would have it, Nov. 29 also marks International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, observed annually by the United Nations. Just last year, the General Assembly passed six resolutions condemning Israel and supporting the Palestinians.

It’s not a coincidence that the Nov. 29 vote does not rank as high as other dates in Israeli lore, certainly not as high as May 14, 1948, when Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion officially declared the State of Israel, or even Nov 2, 1917, when the Balfour Declaration called for “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.”

If anything, the proximity of the 1947 vote to the Holocaust has only fed the false narrative that the creation of Israel came only because of that darkest horror, overlooking the 3,500-year Jewish connection to the land.

“The delegitimizing narrative claims Europeans sinned by killing 6 million Jews from 1939 to 1945, then exorcised their guilt by ‘giving’ Palestinian land to the Jews on Nov. 29, 1947,” Troy writes.

For those who cherish the Zionist dream, including the Black Hebrews from Oklahoma, Nov. 29, 1947, was a miracle indeed.

This delegitimizing narrative has fueled the lingering hostility toward the Jewish state, embodied today by the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

And yet, despite all the rejections and wars and condemnations and anti-Israel resolutions and terror attacks and calls for boycotts, here stands Israel — the little country that could, the little country that accepted the Partition Plan, the little country that is still standing, still thriving, still arguing, still creating, still struggling, still innovating, still fighting back, still making do with what it has.

Animosity or not, after 1,900 years of homelessness, the founders of Israel simply could not refuse an offer to return to the land of their ancestors. For those who cherish the Zionist dream, including the Black Hebrews from Oklahoma, Nov. 29, 1947, was a miracle indeed.