16 October '16..
It was business as usual at the United Nations on Friday as the Security Council devoted a session to criticizing Israel. Just to make sure that the argument was skewed the event was titled “Illegal Israeli Settlements: Obstacles to Peace and the Two-State Solution.” So rather than a debate about the legality of settlements or whether they (as opposed to Palestinian intransigence) are really the main obstacle to peace, what occurred was a Star Chamber proceeding with the one Jewish state in the dock. The usual suspects decried the presence of Jews in the West Bank, lamented the lack of a Palestinian state, and counseled that unless Israel changes its ways, it will face unspecified consequences.
But there was one thing that differentiated this day from all the Israel-bashing sessions that preceded it: the presence of two left-wing Jewish organizations to add their voices to the chorus of condemnation. Representatives from Americans for Peace Now and B’Tselem, an organization that bills itself as a human-rights group while working to undermine the efforts of the Israeli Defense Forces, showed up at the UN to join the gang tackle of the Jewish state.
The testimony provided by the two groups was correctly contradicted by Israel’s UN representative, who pointed out the conflict is driven by Palestinian hate rather than Israeli home-building. But their decision to appear raises a serious question about the ethics involved in taking an active part in an effort designed to delegitimize Israel on the international stage. It’s fair to ask whether it is appropriate for any organization that identifies as either Jewish or Israeli to assist a world body that is riddled with anti-Semitism in conducting a kangaroo-court procedure in which the Jewish state is judged guilty beforehand.
The most egregious aspect of the presence of these two groups is the assertion made by Peace Now’s Lara Friedman that her participation at the meeting was due to what she said was the “harsh climate” in Israel for human-rights groups. Their work was, she said, too important to be “silenced.” But no one is silencing Peace Now or B’Tselem in Israel.
It’s true that left-wing non-governmental organizations that seek to support the Palestinians against Israel are not particularly popular there these days. The 23 years of Palestinian terrorism and rejection of peace since the signing of the Oslo Accords have caused popular support for these groups to collapse. In particular, activities of outfits like B’Tselem and “Breaking the Silence,” which have taken steps to frustrate the IDF’s efforts in responding to the current “stabbing intifada,” have brought them into general disrepute.
In the past year, the backlash has led to a debate over a proposed law that would have required NGO’s that get a majority of their financial support from hostile foreign governments (as is the case with B’Tselem) to be more transparent about their funding. The law would also have required that NGO’s representatives who lobby the Knesset wear badges identifying themselves, much like lobbyists who work on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.
One can argue that the bill was unnecessary, but the notion that it was a threat to democracy, free speech, or the ability of these groups to go on functioning is risible. Far from silenced, they continue to thrive with the help of European governments. They also receive more publicity for their efforts from both the generally liberal-leaning Israeli media (such as the left-wing Haaretz), as well as from an adoring international press corps. The claim that Peace Now and B’Tselem had to go to the UN to be heard is ridiculous.
The debate over the settlements and security policies continues in Israel with no restraints. Yet these left-wing groups remain unpopular because they seek to thwart Israeli democracy instead of defending it. The goal of their testimony at the UNSC was to encourage the world to enact measures that will isolate Israel and to force it to adopt policies that its government and the overwhelming majority of its people consider suicidal. That will remain the case so long as the Palestinians are committed to Israel’s destruction and the eviction of Jews from not just the West Bank but also Jerusalem. That point was emphasized by the vote they won at UNESCO yesterday, which denied the connection between Israel’s capital and the Jewish people.
Peace Now and B’Tselem have the right to say what they like wherever they choose to say it. But those who join with Israel’s outright foes at the UN, of all places, in an effort to overthrow the verdict of Israeli democracy or to deny Jewish rights and security should not expect anything but contempt from Israelis and those who care about the Jewish state’s survival.
Updates throughout the day at http://calevbenyefuneh.blog
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