Satire at the United Nations

Some people wonder why supporters of Israel question whether the United Nations is the best place to bring about the creation of a Palestinian state. Here's part of my answer:

Last week, Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, shared with me a list of the diverse steps the country has taken to protect Israel from what she and President Barack Obama consider to be scapegoating by the world body.

The list includes U.S. opposition to the "dozens of biased resolutions" directed against Israel in the General Assembly, and also notes the number of times the U.S. has fought for the appointment of Israelis to various posts within the UN, from which they are, as a matter of course, excluded.

It also offers a good illustration of the lengths the U.S. must go to in fighting the UN's pathological, detestable and intermittently comical obsession with Israel -- one that prevents it from forcefully addressing many of the more dire problems confronting the Arab world.

At times, the list reads like satire. There is, for instance, this item: "The United States continues to call for the resignation of the UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights Situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Richard Falk. The United States has strongly condemned his anti-Semitic statements and web postings, as well as his deeply offensive statements in support of 9/11 conspiracy theories."

The UN doesn't consider it overly troubling that a top human-rights official has trafficked in anti-Semitic propaganda and is a Sept. 11 "truther."

Then there was this uplifting episode, brought to us courtesy of Syria: "At the Human Rights Council, the United States forcefully opposed 2010 statements by a Syrian official that Israeli children are taught to sing songs about drinking the blood of Arabs. The United States worked with the HRC President to make clear that such language is outrageous and offensive and has no place in UN bodies."

There is nothing new about the UN's singular focus -- half of the 10 emergency special sessions called in the General Assembly since the UN's founding have involved Israel, and Israel is the target of more condemnatory resolutions than any other nation. Of the UN's 193 members, nearly 50 are Muslim- majority states, and one has a Jewish majority. So one of the issues here is mathematics.

A note, before I proceed: I support the creation of a Palestinian state on the West bank and in Gaza, with a capital in East Jerusalem, and have for many years. I believe it's in Israel's best interest to have an independent Palestinian state as a neighbor, and I also support Palestinian statehood because Palestinians define themselves as a nation and have the right to live free and unmolested in their own country.

But the Palestinian cause isn't the world's only such cause. (Those watching the General Assembly meeting last week could be forgiven for thinking otherwise.) Many groups not lucky enough to have Jewish adversaries are seeking independence as well, and many more groups, and individuals, are seeking freedom and dignity within independent states. They can't seem to get anyone's attention.

A quick scan of the news out of the Muslim world over the past week or so suggests a number of suitable topics for intensive discussion at the General Assembly, apart from the matter of Palestine.

In Syria -- whose government lately has been paying less attention to the diabolical nature of Israeli children's songs and more attention to torturing and killing its own citizens -- the death toll in the popular uprising now exceeds 2,700. Included in that number are at least 100 children.

In Pakistan, 26 Shiite pilgrims were ordered off a bus and gunned down, in the latest incident of Muslim-on-Muslim violence there. In Indonesia, a suicide bomber detonated himself in a church, wounding more than 20 worshippers, in the latest incident of Muslim-on-Christian violence that is a considerable problem in several Muslim-majority states, including Egypt.

In Somalia, al-Shabaab, an Islamist terrorist group, is refusing to allow food donations to reach drought-stricken areas. Aid groups estimate that 300,000 children may die if supplies don't reach them soon. In Turkey, a bomb attack in Ankara killed three people and wounded more than 30. The bombers were probably Kurdish terrorists, seeking to free their homeland from the hold of the central government.

In Yemen, more than 70 people were killed by security forces while protesting the dictatorial rule of Ali Abdullah Saleh. In Libya, rebels discovered a mass grave holding the bodies of 1,270 prison inmates massacred in 1996. And, of course, Burhanuddin Rabbani, a former president of Afghanistan and head of the country's High Peace Council, was assassinated Sept. 20.

This is a partial list.

There is a reason Israelis don't trust the UN: It spends comparatively little time examining the various sins and shortcomings of Arab and Muslim states, including many autocracies led by thoroughgoing sadists, and a disproportionate amount of time sitting in judgment of Israel. And there is a reason Israelis trust the U.S. as the only possible broker for peace negotiations: It has consistently fought the demonization of the world's only Jewish state.

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Jeffrey Goldberg is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and a recipient of the National Magazine Award for Reporting. He is the author of Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror. More

Before joining The Atlantic in 2007, Goldberg was a Middle East correspondent, and the Washington correspondent, for The New Yorker. He was previouslly a correspondent for The New York Times Magazine and New York magazine. He has also written for the Jewish Daily Forward and was a columnist for The Jerusalem Post.

Goldberg's book Prisoners was hailed as one of the best books of 2006 by the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Slate, The Progressive, Washingtonian magazine, and Playboy. He received the 2003 National Magazine Award for Reporting for his coverage of Islamic terrorism and the 2005 Anti-Defamation League Daniel Pearl Prize. He is also the winner of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists prize for best international investigative journalist; the Overseas Press Club award for best human-rights reporting; and the Abraham Cahan Prize in Journalism.

In 2001, Goldberg was appointed the Syrkin Fellow in Letters of the Jerusalem Foundation, and in 2002 he became a public-policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.


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