Media Microscope: Unspeakable truths about the UN
May 4, 2016 | Allon Lee
The Australian media generally presents the United Nations as an organisation staffed by good people, doing good work for the less fortunate.
However, through long and bitter experience, supporters of Israel feel somewhat more ambivalent towards the UN, seeing it as pathologically obsessed with excoriating Israel as inhumane tormentors of Palestinian paragons of victimhood.
A workaday example of the unhealthy obsession with the Israeli-Palestinian issue was evident when ABC Radio National “Breakfast” (April 14) looked at the selection process currently under way to pick UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s successor.
UN specialist Richard Gowan of NGO European Council for Foreign Relations said the “serious issues” raised by the selection committee included “Palestine [and] that of Crimea.”
Whilst it’s likely other topics were raised, it speaks volumes that top of Gowan’s list was not Iran or Syria or North Korea or terrorism or climate change or the refugee problem, but Palestine.
Sadly, most Australians are unaware of how the UN enables a Palestinian culture of resistance towards making peace.
A Channel Nine News report (April 5) of NSW Premier Mike Baird’s visit to the West Bank refugee camp of Aida in Bethlehem was a perfect example of unquestioning media giving the UN a free pass.
Viewers saw very young kids in the camp, with reporter Chris O’Keefe informing us of “unexpected smiles in a desperate situation,” then showing a concrete section of the Bethlehem security fence, saying, “their faces at complete odds with the frustration and hopelessness around them. This is their normal. An orderly chaos under close Israeli watch.”
UN spokesman Lance Bartholomeusz was quoted saying, “there will be Israeli soldiers who come down and in the clashes you will see uses of tear gas and you will see use of a lot of force.”
We do not know what else Bartholomeusz said, but it’s a near certainty he didn’t say the clashes are organised by the Palestinians, usually violent and premeditated to provoke Israeli reactions for media consumption.
O’Keefe said the camp has existed “since 1950. It’s become a community of its own. Inside 400 boys attend a school.”
No context was given – implying that Israel somehow was keeping them there, when in fact they live under the rule of the Palestinian Authority (PA), which could move the refugees out tomorrow if it chooses.
Yet as “refugees” they are entitled to free education and health services courtesy of the UN, and thus have little incentive to resettle, while the PA conveniently sees them as pawns to pressure and shame Israel, with UN connivance.
Refreshingly, there were two pushbacks against this perverse culture.
In the Spectator (April 9), commentator Rebecca Weisser pointed out the rogues gallery pulling the anti-Israel strings at the UN Human Rights Council.
“On Syria, the council extended the mandate of the Commission of Inquiry into the protection of human rights which delayed any resolutions calling for action. There was, however, a resolution introduced by Pakistan on human rights abuses in the occupied Syrian Golan. Pakistan denounced grave, systematic human rights violations such as the imposition of illegal Israeli citizenship on Syrians. Cuba said the only solution was Israel’s withdrawal from the territories… Only the US opposed the resolution… Four other resolutions condemned Israel. No other country was singled out except to extend mandates of inquiry.”
Another to expose the moral corruption at the heart of the UN was former Deputy Leader of the federal Liberal Party Neil Brown, who slammed the UN for making Israel a “permanent target.”
He blamed European countries for a share of the obsession, saying, “they don’t like success and Israel is a very successful country. Use whatever test. Turning the desert into flowering gardens… the innovative approach of the Israelis… there’s [also] a touch of pure antisemitism involved in the hostility.”
Brown also suggested that many “Western countries have lost faith in themselves” and “looked for something that would make them look good, and they’ve seized on what they see as the problems facing the Palestinians and they’ve latched onto that to the exclusion of really all evidence,” pointing out that Israel has offered the Palestinians a state of their own three times.
He called on Foreign Minister Julie Bishop to raise the issue with “countries who keep picking on Israel with very little justification,” Sky News “Viewpoint” (April 4).
This article is featured in this month’s Australia/Israel Review, which can be downloaded as a free App: see here for more details.