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The UN’s unhealthy obsession with Israel
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The UN’s unhealthy obsession with Israel

Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.

Whenever the UN General Assembly convenes, regardless of what events are transpiring anywhere in the world, the one thing upon which all the delegates somehow eventually focus is Israel and the Jews

People are hungry and people are dying. There are civil wars raging and terrorist attacks mounting. Approximately 20,000 people have been killed in Syria; U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed by apparent terrorists in Libya; Iran is moving precariously close to making a nuclear weapon; Sudan is in a state of political and economic turmoil; Al Qaida is rising in Mali; the entire Muslim world exploded over a movie trailer that insulted Mohammed; yet the question asked by so many world leaders is, what is Israel doing wrong now?

The world’s leaders sit patiently as the President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, harangues the world about the evil Zionist entity, while in informal conversations he repeats his denial of the Holocaust, and insults the intelligence of the world — and even the UN’s own International Atomic Energy Agency findings — by suggesting his country is not seeking to build nuclear weapons. In response, leaders from all over the world are tiptoeing around lest they ruffle any diplomatic feathers. Nations mute their own principles, lest someone be offended by words spoken and trigger an attack against Western embassies, companies, or schools in a Muslim country. Only the United States and some of the other Western countries are prepared to call out the truth — albeit timidly — but they are overwhelmed by the number of states which are defending the indefensible.

This is not to suggest that the UN does not serve a positive purpose. Clearly, the opportunity to meet, to talk, and to deliberate — especially in the halls and over meals behind the scenes — can be constructive if not therapeutic. The functional activities of the UN, even in some of its peacekeeping roles, are positive. On the other hand, after the events that have transpired over the last month, it is hard to fathom that the world leaders — at least in private — do not recognize the correctness of President Obama’s own observations about the Muslim world’s response to the anti-Islam video.

As the president said:

I know there are some who ask why we don’t just ban such a video. The answer is enshrined in our laws: our Constitution protects the right to practice free speech. Here in the United States, countless publications provoke offense…. We do so not because we support hateful speech, but because our Founders understood that without such protections, the capacity of each individual to express their own views, and practice their own faith, may be threatened. We do so because in a diverse society, efforts to restrict speech can become a tool to silence critics, or oppress minorities… There are no words that excuse the killing of innocents. There is no video that justifies an attack on an Embassy. There is no slander that provides an excuse for people to burn a restaurant in Lebanon, or destroy a school in Tunis, or cause death and destruction in Pakistan.

As the president observed, even some democracies do not understand the type of free speech which America offers and in which it believes; but that does not explain the type of violence which much of the world appears ready to tolerate or accept.

What they won’t accept, of course, is the slightest hint that Israel is not the center of the world’s woes. Israel is not perfect and has its share of scoundrels, but it is remarkable that this world body can always find some way to attack or investigate Israel.

Of all the Jewish holidays Sukkot is the one with the most universal themes attached to it. The sukka is a symbol of peace and tranquility. If more of the nations of the world would come and dwell together in the sukka, maybe some of their leaders would be moved to find a way to join together with the Jews and not persist in trying to stigmatize and ostracize them. People are suffering. It is time for the international community to cease being fixated on the Jews, and face up to the real problems confronting the world.

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