Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Thankless in Turtle Bay

Elliot Jager
Jewish Ideas Daily
18 February '11

After more than six months of internal squabbling, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Likud) and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman (Israel Beitenu) have, at last, agreed to dispatch the seasoned diplomat Ron Prosor as Israel's ambassador to the United Nations.

But what, realistically, can any Israeli ambassador hope to achieve at the UN? This is a body in which over 118 members identify themselves with the farcically labeled "non-aligned" bloc: an interlocking directorate that includes 57 countries belonging to the Organization of the Islamic Conference, 22 members of the Arab League, and five countries (Bolivia, Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela, and North Korea) that have no diplomatic relations with Israel. As if this weren't bad enough, the European Union nowadays rarely takes any initiative to support Israel's right to self-defense, and even Washington has been known to express its pique by occasionally throwing Jerusalem to the jackals.

Israel's first UN ambassador, Abba Eban (1949-1959), who served concurrently as ambassador to Washington, essentially disregarded his immediate audience to address his "language and emotion to the wider world beyond." His successor Michael Comay became one of Israel's leading representatives to American Jewry. In the lead-up to the Six-Day war, Gideon Rafael transmitted diplomatic messages from American decision-makers that the Israeli cabinet interpreted as providing a green light for a preemptive attack.

Not much, however, could be done inside the UN itself. In rebutting Yasir Arafat's gun-toting November 1974 speech to the General Assembly, Yosef Tekoa mainly directed himself to Israel's friends outside. Similarly, Chaim Herzog, in literally tearing apart the November 1975 resolution odiously designating Zionism as "a form of racism," was likewise speaking to the civilized world beyond.

(Read full "Thankless in Turtle Bay")

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