At Bonds gala, envoy describes UN thaw
Israeli Ron Prosor sees progress in tone; ‘They’re not Zionists’
Israel’s permanent representative to the United Nations said his country is beginning to gain acceptance at the world body, where its actions have been frequently condemned.
Speaking in Livingston, Ron Prosor listed a number of recent positive developments at the UN, including the passage of a proclamation in support of Israel, a decline in the number of anti-Israel statements, and a recent performance at the General Assembly by an Iranian-born Israeli pop singer.
“One thing has changed” since he became Israel’s representative at the UN in July of 2011, said Prosor. “We are not playing defense.
“Every time someone attacks Israel, especially the Arabs, we attack back. Why? Because they are vulnerable. Attacking us on women? On gays? On corruption? It’s absolutely off the charts. It’s chutzpah.”
Prosor spoke at the Israel Bonds New Jersey Health Professionals Annual Tribute Dinner on May 2 at the Westminster Hotel.
About 500 supporters of Israel Bonds attended the event, which honored Dr. Barry Ostrowsky, president and CEO of Barnabas Health, and Dr. David Shulkin, president of Morristown Medical Center. Max Kleinman, executive vice president of the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ, also announced the purchase of $500,000 worth of Israel Bonds by the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater MetroWest (see box). Chairing the dinner were Dr. William D. Neigher and Dr. Gary Rogal.
Addressing an audience made up mainly of physicians and their families, Prosor spoke of Israeli doctors being dispatched to provide badly needed medical care in remote parts of the Third World.
“This is amazing stuff we are doing, and we never tell the story, so part of the thing is to tell what Israel stands for beyond the conflict,” he said.
Offering an example of a slight thaw in anti-Israel sentiment at the UN, Prosor described a recent Security Council session on women in government.
Prosor said he invoked the names of Israeli politicians Golda Meir and Tzipi Livni, and asked his fellow delegates, “Ladies and gentlemen, how many women leaders do you know of in the Arab world? Zero.”
The result of his speech was a “dramatic decrease in statements by Arab leaders against Israel.”
“But don’t worry,” he joked. “They are not in line to donate to the Jewish National Fund. They are not Zionists.”
In another example of moving beyond the conflict, Prosor said that in March he arranged for Iranian-born singer Rita to perform at the General Assembly.
“The message was, ‘We have nothing against the Iranian people. We have a lot against your leadership.’ This is a bridge over troubled water,” said the diplomat.
Prosor said he also succeeded in getting the General Assembly to pass an Israeli resolution hailing the country’s entrepreneurship.
“They told me, ‘You’ll be humiliated. It will never happen. It is not even a good idea to start,’” he recalled. But after what he labeled a “full-court press,” 141 of the 193 member states approved the resolution.
“Some do not have diplomatic ties with us, showing you there is huge respect for Israel under the radar screen,” he said. “Above the radar screen it’s a different story.”
Prosor also suggested Israel benefits from UN infighting among Muslim countries like Iran, Syria, and Saudi Arabia.
“I sit there and say, ‘Continue, gentlemen,’” as those countries’ diplomats spar with one another. “Things that have been for a long time under the carpet are suddenly out there.”
Prosor also criticized the Palestinian Authority for placing conditions on restarting negotiations.
“The Palestinians say, ‘Before we will come to negotiations you have to freeze settlements, you have to release prisoners, and the prime minister should come out with a statement saying the 1967 lines are the parameters for those borders.’
“So why come to those negotiations?”
He described the new U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, as “very energetic” about restarting peace talks. He declined to comment in detail about an Arab League peace plan unanimously endorsed by its members on March 27, saying only that Israel is “not giving everything away before we get into the negotiations.”
The chief impediment to any peace treaty is not Israeli settlements, he said, but Palestinians’ assertion of their “right of return” to property now in Israel.
“Even those guys on the left of Israel’s political spectrum, falling off the Rock of Gibraltar, they would not sign any peace agreement if the right of return is part of it, because it is the destruction of Israel,” he said.