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News and views on Israel, Zionism and the war on terrorism.

November 29, 2002

Israel faces rampant discrimination at the United Nations

The latest contagious strain of the disease of moral equivalence is the comparison of the dictatorship of Iraq to the democracy of Israel. Joseph Alexander Norland and Zion Blogster have each recently discussed an example of this nonsense. Currently, the proponents of the equivalence between Israel and Iraq are testing Mr. Norland’s claim that “A lie is not transformed into truth by Arabs repeating it ad nauseam” in their attempt to advance the ridiculous notion that the UN is biased in favor of Israel. Julian Schvindlerman refutes this absurdity.
All it takes for a baseless statement to be accepted at face value at the United Nations is for an Arab diplomat to utter it. Just observe the evolution of the newest diplomatic charge by Arab leaders: the United Nations, it turns out, is biased in favor of Israel.
Those making this claim must ignore two realities: the UN itself makes a distinction between the types of resolutions Iraq has violated and those Israel is accused of breaking; and, the UN has a history (and present) of discriminating against Israel.
The main distinction is between U.N. General Assembly resolutions and U.N. Security Council resolutions. The former have political (and in the eyes of public opinion, even moral) authority, but are not legally binding. The latter do create legal obligations for the states they refer to, but -- as United Nations Watch, a Swiss NGO, reported -- the implementation of these obligations vary depending upon the chapter of the United Nations Charter under which they are adopted.

Thus, resolutions adopted under Chapter VI of the U.N. Charter, entitled ''Pacific Settlements of Disputes,'' require negotiation. Such is the case, for instance, of U.N. Security Council resolutions 242 and 338, adopted in 1967 and 1973 respectively, which call for an Israeli withdrawal from disputed territories in the framework of a negotiated comprehensive peace settlement.

In opposition to this, resolutions adopted under Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter, entitled ''Action With Respect to Threats to Peace, Breaches of the Peace, and Acts of Aggression,'' can be enforced by third parties. Moreover, as noted by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, the United Nations can authorize under Article 42 of its Charter the use of military force if a Chapter VII resolution is violated.

Here comes the trick. All U.N. Security Council resolutions that involve Israel were promulgated under Chapter VI of the U.N. Charter. All but two U.N. Security Council resolutions related to Iraq's invasion and subsequent occupation of Kuwait were adopted under Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter.

This crucial legal distinction means that there is no legitimate basis for the trendy comparison between Iraqi and Israeli compliance, or lack of thereof, with U.N. resolutions.

Now, if the charge that the United Nations is biased against Iraq is unfounded, the implication that the international body is biased in favor of Israel is just bizarre.

Discrimination against Israel in the U.N. system is rampant.

In a constellation of 190 member-states, Israel is the sole nation prevented from winning a seat at the New York-based U.N. Security Council. The Geneva-based U.N. Commission of Human Rights devotes disproportionate attention to real or putative Israeli violations of human rights under a special item of its agenda during its annual meeting; the remaining 189 states are collectively examined under another agenda item.

Furthermore, Israel is the only country ever to have been branded a ''non-peace loving state'' by the U.N. General Assembly, which is driven by the Arab-Muslim bloc.

As a matter of fact, in more than 50 years, the United Nations voted in favor of Israel just two times: in November 1947 (partition of Palestine) and in May 1949 (admission of the Jewish state to the United Nations). It would be hard to find a single pro-Israel resolution since, with the notable exception of the 1991 resolution that revoked one from 1975 that compared Zionism to racism.

The unfortunate reality is that the UN is seen by a number of its members as nothing more than a forum from which to punish Israel for doing nothing more than existing. To claim that this organization is pro-Israel is an insult to the intelligence of anyone with even a cursory knowledge of its workings.