May 23, 2007

Ten Ways Israel Is Treated Differently

From Ten Ways Israel Is Treated Differently:

First, Israel is the only UN member state whose very right to exist is under constant challenge. Notwithstanding the fact that Israel was created with the imprimatur of the UN and has been a member of the world body since 1949, there is a relentless chorus of nations, institutions and individuals denying Israel's very political legitimacy. No one would dare question the right to exist of Libya, Saudi Arabia or Syria. Why is it open hunting season on Israel, as if we didn't know the answer?

Second, Israel is the only UN member state that's been publicly targeted for annihilation by another UN member state. Think about it. The Iranian president calls for wiping Israel off the map. Is there any other country that faces such an open call for genocidal destruction?

Third, Israel is the only nation whose capital city, Jerusalem, is not recognized by other nations. Imagine the absurdity of this. Foreign diplomats live in Tel Aviv while conducting virtually all their business in Jerusalem. Though no Western nation questions Israel's presence in the city's western half, where the prime minister's office, Knesset and Ministry of Foreign Affairs are located, there are no embassies there. In fact, look at listings of world cities, including places of birth in passports, and you'll often see something striking - Paris, France; Tokyo, Japan; Pretoria, South Africa; Lima, Peru; and Jerusalem, sans country - orphaned, if you will.

Fourth, the UN has two agencies that deal 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 Refugee and Works Administration (UNRWA), handles only the Palestinians. But the oddity goes further than two structures and two bureaucracies. They have two different mandates. UNHCR seeks to resettle refugees; UNRWA does not. When, in 1951, John Blanford, UNRWA's director, proposed resettling up to 250,000 refugees in Arab countries, those countries refused, leading to his resignation. The message got through. No UN official since has pushed for resettlement.

Moreover, the UNRWA and UNHCR definitions of a refugee differ markedly. Whereas the UNHCR targets those who have 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 that has won all its major wars for survival and self-defense, yet it's confronted by defeated adversaries who insist on dictating the terms of peace. In doing so, ironically, they've found support from many countries who, victorious in war, demanded -- and got - border adjustments.

Sixth, Israel is the only country that has been censured by name -- not once, but nine times -- since the new UN Human Rights Council was established in June 2006. Astonishingly, or maybe not, this UN body has failed to adopt a single resolution critical of any real human rights abuser. When finally discussing the Darfur situation, the Council shamefully balked at pointing a finger at Sudan.

Seventh, Israel is the only country that, in violation of the spirit of the UN Charter, isn't a full member of one of the five regional blocs -- Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America, and West Europe and Others (WEOG) -- that determine eligibility for candidacy for key UN posts. While Israel achieved a breakthrough in 2000 and joined WEOG, its membership is limited to New York, not other UN centers, and is both conditional and temporary.

Eighth, Israel is the only country that's the daily target of three UN bodies established solely to advance the Palestinian cause and to bash 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.

Ninth, Israel is the only country that is the target of a boycott by the British-based National Union of Journalists. An earlier British boycott against Israeli academic institutions was voided on a technicality because the union that adopted the measure merged with another. There is now an incipient call by some in the British Medical Association to exclude its Israeli counterpart from the World Medical Association.

And tenth, Israel is the only country where some associated with its majority population, i.e., Jews, openly call, for political or religious reasons, to dismantle the state. Is there a comparable situation to those religious voices of Neturei Karta, for example, who traveled to Teheran to join publicly with a leader seeking Israel's destruction, as well as those political extremists who seek to delegitimize the State of Israel and call for a "one-state" solution? Speaking of our own worst enemies... Tackling any one of these ten, much less all of them, is a daunting challenge, to state the painfully obvious. And, as I suggested, this list is far from complete. But it gives a sense of what's going on beyond the daily headlines.

The old ad used to say that you don't have to be Jewish to love Levy's Jewish rye bread. Well, surely, you don't have to be an ardent pro-Israel activist to be troubled by the unjust treatment of Israel. All it takes is a capacity for outrage that things like this are going on before our very eyes.