It’s appalling to see how Israel is treated by a totally different standard to other countries in the international system. Of course, Israel deserves scrutiny, as does every other nation. But it also merits equal treatment.
First, Israel is the only UN member state whose very right to exist is under constant challenge.
Notwithstanding the fact that Israel embodies an age-old connection with the Jewish people, that it was created based on the 1947 recommendation of the UN, and that it has been a member of the world body since 1949, there’s a relentless chorus of nations, institutions and individuals denying Israel’s very political legitimacy.
No one would dare question the right to exist of many other countries whose basis for legitimacy is infinitely more questionable than Israel’s – including quite a few Arab countries.
Second, Israel is the only UN member state that’s been targeted for annihilation by another UN member state.
Think about it. The leadership of Iran, together with Iran-funded proxies in Lebanon and Gaza, has repeatedly called for wiping Israel off the map. Is there any other country facing the threat of genocidal destruction?
Third, Israel is the only nation whose capital city, Jerusalem, is not recognised by other nations. Foreign diplomats live in Tel Aviv while conducting virtually all their business in Jerusalem, even though no Western nation questions Israel’s presence in the city’s western half, where the prime minister’s office, Knesset (Parliament), and Ministry of Foreign Affairs are located.
Fourth, the UN has two agencies dealing with refugees. One, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), focuses on all the world’s refugee populations, save one. The other, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine (UNRWA), handles only the Palestinians.
But the difference goes beyond two bureaucracies. UNHCR seeks to resettle refugees; UNRWA does not.
Moreover, the UNRWA and UNHCR definitions of a refugee differ markedly. Whereas the UNHCR targets only those who’ve actually fled their homelands, the UNRWA definition covers “the descendants of persons who became refugees in 1948,” without any generational limitations.
Fifth, Israel is the only country in the world with a separate – and permanent – agenda item #7, at the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council. No other member state, including serial human-rights violators like North Korea, Syria, Iran and Sudan, gets its own agenda item.
Sixth, Israel is the only country condemned by name this year at the World Health Organisation annual assembly as a “violator” of health rights.
This canard took place despite the fact that Israel provides world-class medical assistance to Syrians wounded in the country’s civil war and Palestinians in Hamas-ruled Gaza; has achieved one of the world’s highest life expectancy rates for all its citizens, Jewish and non-Jewish alike; is among the very first medical responders to humanitarian crises wherever they may occur, from Haiti to Nepal, and is daily advancing the frontiers of medicine for everyone.
Seventh, Israel is the only country that’s the daily target of three UN bodies established and staffed solely for the purpose of advancing the Palestinian cause and bashing Israel – the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People; the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and the Division for Palestinian Rights in the UN’s Department of Political Affairs.
Eighth, Israel is the only country annually targeted by up to 20 UN General Assembly resolutions.
Each year, Israel is on the receiving end of more such efforts than the other 192 UN member states combined. No one can seriously argue that this is remotely warranted, but it’s a reality because in every UN body, except the Security Council, it’s all about majority voting.
When close to two-thirds of the world’s nations today belong to the Non-Aligned Movement, and when they elect a country like Iran as its chair, that just about says it all.
And ninth, Israel is the only country targeted by the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions) movement.
Has anyone seen any significant campus activity that takes aim at true human rights offenders, including some in Israel’s neighbourhood, who behead, forcibly convert, and expel Christians; drop chemically-laced barrel bombs on civilians; deny Palestinians full rights; and use capital punishment, including for minors, with abandon?
Has anyone seen movements for companies to pull out of any country other than Israel?
Turkey, as but one example, has brazenly and unjustifiably occupied one-third of the island nation of Cyprus for 41 years, deployed an estimated 40,000 Turkish troops there, and transferred countless settlers from Anatolia – yet there’s not a peep against Ankara from those who purport to act against “occupation”.
An old advertisement proclaimed that you don’t have to be Jewish to love Levy’s Jewish rye bread. Well, surely, you don’t have to be a pro-Israel activist to be troubled by the grotesquely unjust treatment of Israel.
David Harris is Executive Director of the American Jewish Committee (AJC). © AJC, reprinted by permission, all rights reserved.
* This article is featured in this month’s Australia/Israel Review, which can be downloaded as a free App: see here for more details.