The UN has no right to chide Israel

David Collier questions the UN's fairness on Israel.

January 16, 2017 11:43

In last week's JC, Professor Colin Shindler  wrote about the dilemma at the core of British Jewry  and entirely missed the point. As Zionist Jews, we are perfectly entitled to wave the flags of our opinions over our heads. We are all totally within our rights to disagree over how Israel can best achieve peace. Yet we should all remain united, behind the clear and long understood position that the UN is a forum incapable of discussing Israel fairly. 

British Jews can be in favour of massive territorial compromise and stand solidly against the UN resolution. Describing opposition to UN treatment of Israel as “cling(ing) to the controversial policies of an Israel government” is either to misunderstand the conflict-perpetuating role the UN has played, to fail to grasp the political reversals within Resolution 2334, or just cheap political grandstanding.

In turn, this also means that two out of the three academics who are credited on the “City University survey” that Shindler references have now publicly identified with the political leanings of the group, Yachad, that financed it. Stephen Miller has spoken out before when a Yachad political action has been criticised, and now so too has Colin Shindler. This further reinforces the criticism that the survey itself merely mirrors the world vision of those who compiled it. “Impartial” is hardly the word that comes to mind.

The irony is that the survey supports neither Yachad’s position nor Colin Shindler’s.

Most British Jews may favour the “land for peace” formula but the peace element of the equation is almost entirely missing from both the UN vote, and from Yachad’s open and disgraceful public lobbying for it.

Yet peace runs through the very heart of the majority of responses to the survey. On issues of security, British Jews line up firmly behind Israel, on matters of negotiations they are cautious, and on the Jewish nature of the state they are steadfast.

Additionally, the UN vote was not balanced and withdrew from some of the very important understandings built over years of negotiations. On what grounds does Colin Shindler suggest that the survey indicates British Jews consider the Western Wall as occupied territory and part of a “settlement”?

It doesn’t of course, but it is on this very ignorance that the entire survey rests. Outside of the BBC and the Guardian, “settlements” are not something that can be turned into a single word question. How many of those questioned would have been able to describe the complexities of the West Bank, such as the differences between areas “A”, “B” & “C”? How many could distinguish between Israeli Arab town Qalansawe, and Qalqilya on the West Bank? Half the distance between Netanya and Kfar Saba separate them, yet in political terms they are worlds apart. Asking British Jews what they think of “settlements” dumbs down the question, plays on people’s ignorance and insults the intelligence of anybody who is sold opinions on the back of those results.

Shindler should understand that the UN should be opposed because it is unfit to discuss Israel. Like any judicial or judgmental body that has continually displayed itself to persecute a particular group, we should unite in defence of the persecuted and demand that the body cleanse itself and prove itself fit for purpose, before we even begin to entertain its ideas on important issues.

For this reason, not for any of the arguments over settlements, Colin Shindler and Yachad have completely misread the situation.

I was on a panel at Limmud two weeks ago when a Yachad activist proposed expanding the umbrella of the Board of Deputies to include staunch anti-Zionists: Ilan Pappe, Naomi Wimborne Idrissi and Gerald Kaufman no doubt.

It is this naïve game-playing with elements of a real-world conflict that continually expose Yachad principles as ranging from naïve to dangerous.

The truth is that some British Jews must stop dreaming about a fictional Israel that exists in the “neverlands” and understand that Israel is a real state with real problems in a very disturbing neighbourhood.

As easy as it may be in the luxury of north London for these professors to insist on Israel taking enormous risks for peace, one wonders just who would pay the price when it all went wrong.

The Zionist Federation was right to stand in direct opposition to the UN resolution, was right to organise a demonstration and the JLC and others were right to back the ZF on this issue.

I hope that a badly argued comment piece in the JC didn’t put anyone off attending.


David Collier is a pro-Israel activist and blogger


January 16, 2017 11:43

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