Ed: 40: August/2015
In theory, the United Nations is the epitome of effective diplomatic activity and relations. Yet, in practice, it is, all too frequently, an epicentre of vitriolic rhetoric, wilful misinformation, and unfortunate end results.
There is prestige and status attached to seats on the various UN councils and committees, though. And, at least partly for this reason, New Zealand fought long and hard to gain its current seat on the UN Security Council.
Three months ago, defending what he called the "historic" framework understandings reached with Iran in Lausanne over its rogue nuclear program, US President Barack Obama planted a false and highly unpleasant insinuation. "It's no secret," the President declared in an April 2 address, "that the Israeli Prime Minister and I don't agree about whether the United States should move forward with a peaceful resolution to the Iranian issue." The nasty implication? That while America favours diplomacy to thwart Iran's march to the bomb, Binyamin Netanyahu wants war.
Columnist Rowan Dean blasted the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel as "anti-Semitic" and a "grotesque fraud", pointing out its hypocrisies.
Hypocrisies include boycotting "Jewish businesses... and even a Jewish theatre" in this country "on the pretence of supporting the Palestinian ‘struggle'."
He lambasted famous BDS supporters like musician Roger Waters who "rails against the ‘conspiracy' of Jews in Hollywood [and] claims his concern for the ‘Palestinian children'" but is silent "about...Palestinian (and other Arab) children being massacred by the truckload all around the Middle East and Africa by Islamists."
Moreover, he noted, in "deliberately boycotting Israeli businesses in the West Bank, supporters of BDS are destroying the lives of the Palestinians they pretend to care for," Courier Mail (July 6).
Speaking on July 18, four days after the deal on Iran's nuclear program was signed, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei vowed that the deal would not change Iran's policy against the "arrogant American government", which he castigated for its support of the "child-killing Zionist regime." In the lead up to the agreement, Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps issued a statement on July 8 that called Israel the common enemy of the Islamic nations and said that destroying it is Muslims' first priority.
The 47-member UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on July 3 voted to assail Israel because of the Hamas-triggered war in mid-2014. That's right, assail Israel, not Hamas.
But then again, this is the inaptly named UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC). When it comes to Israel, these things are so routine they barely raise an eyebrow in the international community.
Hard as it may be to believe, tiny, democratic Israel has been the target of more country-specific resolutions at the UNHRC than all other nations combined.
Such is the mesmerising effect of atrocities perpetrated by ISIS that any act committed in its name appears only to be the tip of the iceberg. Far from its epicentre in Syria and Iraq, the spate of ‘lone-wolf' attacks means that Islamic groups and individuals expressing any identification with ISIS understandably fall under suspicion.
Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist movement that has vowed to destroy Israel, is emerging as one of the biggest beneficiaries of the nuclear deal reached in mid-July between Iran and the world powers.
Emboldened by the deal, Hamas is now seeking to reap the fruits by tightening its grip on the Gaza Strip with the help of Iran. This, of course, is bad news for Hamas' rivals in the Palestinian arena, namely the Palestinian Authority (PA), as well as all those who still believe in the peace process between Israelis and Palestinians.
The chattering class has spent months bickering about whether or not the United States should sign on to a nuclear deal with Iran. Hardly anyone aside from the Saudis, however, seems to recognise that the Iranian government's ultimate goal is regional hegemony and that its nuclear weapons program is simply a means to that end.
Whatever the merits of the P5+1 agreement on Iran's nuclear program, its significance was not lost on the local media.
ANU Professor Amin Saikal told ABC Radio Melbourne 774 "Mornings" host Jon Faine (July 15) that Iranian objections to military site inspections are reasonable to prevent "military secrets [becoming] widely known, particularly" because Israel "has kept threatening Iran with military attacks."
Faine responded, "does Iran drop the rhetoric of wiping Israel off the face of the map?"
Incredibly, Saikal said, "I think they have dropped that rhetoric... particularly since the rise of Hassan Rouhani to power."
It is worth contrasting this approach to a single word from Netanyahu with the way the US Administration, as well as many commentators, react to numerous words from Iranian leaders.