we take the u.n. seriously!

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    America, Israel Should Take UN Seriously, Expert Says

    By Julie Stahl
    December 3, 2004

    Jerusalem - The United States, which funds nearly a quarter of the United Nations' annual budget, should rethink its relations with the world body, much of which stands opposed to President Bush's view on the global war against terrorism, an expert said here this week.

    For many years, Israel has downplayed the importance of U.N. resolutions, which are usually against it, but neither Israel nor the U.S. can afford to take that stand any longer, said Professor Anne Bayefsky of the Hudson Institute.

    "An American taxpayer who foots 22 percent of the regular budget of the United Nations, which has an annual budget of approximately $1.5 billion, has to begin asking some very difficult questions," Bayefsky told CNSNews.com.

    "The United Nations still does not have a definition of terrorism, essentially because the Organization of Islamic Conferences (OIC) ... dominates much of what goes on in the General Assembly," Bayefsky said.

    "Even in the context of the Security Council, [the OIC] prevents the passage of various positive resolutions, which might make a difference," she said.

    The OIC, most of whose 56 members are also part of the 115-member Non-Aligned Movement, constitute an automatic majority in the U.N., which has 191 member states.

    Last week, the U.N.'s third committee refused to adopt any resolution condemning human rights violations in the Sudan.

    According to a report issued on Thursday by the human rights monitoring group Amnesty International, "More than a million people have been displaced in Darfur [Sudan]; they have been attacked, women raped, people abducted, their relatives killed, villages burnt and looted...

    "The security forces detain and torture with impunity and are protected by the law. ... The Sudanese government, instead of admitting that it has violated human rights by supporting the nomad militias responsible for much of the devastation of Darfur and instead of listening to the plight of its citizens, continues to oppress the victims of gross human rights abuses," the report said.

    At the same time that the General Assembly defeated the resolution on Sudan, it adopted nine resolutions condemning Israel, Bayefsky said.

    "Whose interest is it benefiting when it can't condemn human rights violations around the globe while demonizing literally the democratic beachhead in the Middle East?" she asked.

    Israel demonized

    Speaking in Jerusalem this week at the second annual Jerusalem Summit -- a gathering of conservative thinkers and diplomats from around the world -- Bayefsky said that right or wrong, the influence the U.N. has in shaping public opinion around the world must be taken seriously.

    "However unjustifiable, many believe that the United Nations is the moral conscience of the majority of nations in the inhabitants of the global village, and according to the U.N., Israel is the archetypical violator in the world today," Bayefsky said. "The combination is literally lethal."

    Israel is demonized in a number of U.N. organs, committees and conferences, all of which produce volumes of documents, reports and resolutions, Bayefsky said.

    Thirty percent of the resolutions passed by the U.N. Commission on Human Rights condemning human rights violations have criticized Israel, while not a single resolution condemning human rights violations has ever been passed against 75 percent of U.N. members, including states like Syria, Saudi Arabia, China and Zimbabwe, she said.

    Each Nov. 29, the U.N. marks the day that it partitioned British Mandatory Palestine into two areas -- a Jewish state and an Arab state -- as an international day of solidarity with the Palestinian people.

    Israel accepted that resolution, while the Arab states rejected it. When the British left the area six months later, Israel declared its statehood, and the armies of the surrounding Arab nations launched a full-scale war against the fledgling state to destroy it.

    Standing with the representatives of more than 100 member states marking the day last year, Secretary-General Kofi Annan called it "a day of mourning and a day of grief," Bayefsky said.

    At the front of the room hung U.N. and Palestinian flags, with a map pre-dating the state of Israel in between, she said.

    "Every one of those U.N. officials and government representatives rose in the opening ceremony for a moment of silence 'for all those who had given their lives for the Palestinian people,' which would of course include the suicide bombers," she said.

    "In other words, the demonization of Israel through the human rights medium has real consequences. What begins as U.N. talk ends up as U.N.-driven support for boycotts and, in its worst, the legitimate struggle by all available means against Israeli occupation," she added.

    According to Bayefsky, across the spectrum of U.N. bodies, there is an interconnected campaign to deny Israel the right to self-defense by condemning every action it takes to combat terrorism, from targeted killings to building a security fence; refusing to condemn terrorism against Israelis; refusing to identify the perpetrators of terror attacks against Israeli victims; and actually promoting terrorism against Israelis by adopting a resolution in the U.N. Human Rights Commission for the past three years that "affirms the legitimacy of the struggle against foreign occupation and for self-determination by all available means."

    Opposite worldviews

    Politically, this translates into a situation where the U.N. and the European Union stand opposite the U.S. in its war against terrorism.

    Israel is one of very few nations that have backed Bush's war against terrorism without reservation.

    The U.N. and the European Union maintain that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the greatest challenge to international order and not Iran or North Korea's pursuit of nuclear weapons, nor violent Islamic fundamentalism, Bayefsky said.

    According to their worldview, "Israeli occupation is the root cause of Arab and militant Islamic terrorism everywhere," she said, and the way to solve that is by pressuring Israel into negotiations with the Palestinians and making concessions in the name of confidence-building measures before there is any end to terrorism.

    On the other hand, President Bush sees "terrorists and their sponsors seeking the destruction of the state of Israel" as the "root cause of the Arab-Israeli conflict," she said. "Progress requires fighting back, prevailing against the terrorists and isolating their state sponsors."

    Bush believes Israeli-Palestinian peace can only be achieved by negotiations between the two parties, when a Palestinian peace partner emerges, and not as a result of international pressures, she said.

    Recently, following the death of PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat, the international community has looked toward the resumption of an Israeli-Palestinian dialogue with a soon-to-be-elected new Palestinian leadership.

    Some European nations called for a return to the road map peace process by skipping the first phase -- an end to Palestinian terrorism and the dismantling of its infrastructure -- and jumping on to create a Palestinian state.

    Backed by Washington, Israel has made it clear that there can be no return to the diplomatic process without an end to terrorism and incitement first.

    "Such a worldview should suggest to President Bush and his new secretary of state that it is time to rethink American relations with the U.N. and to demand an in-depth accounting of the 22 percent of the $1.5 billion annual budget that comes from Americans' blood, sweat and tears," she said.

    "Winning the war against terrorism has multiple fronts, and midtown Manhattan [where the U.N. headquarters is located] is one of them," she added.
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