An unexpected U.N. turn toward Israel


Since the historic founding of the state of Israel more than 73 years ago, the United Nations General Assembly has passed hundreds of resolutions critical of the Jewish state. Whether based upon criticism of Israel’s “disproportionate” response to military and missile attacks, the building of settlements in “occupied territories,” the alleged lack of care to avoid civilian casualties during military operations or the claimed undifferentiated mistreatment of an entire Palestinian population or the people of Gaza, the criticism of Israel has been relentless. For those keeping track, notwithstanding the withering criticism of Israel, there has been remarkable silence regarding the chilling disregard for civilian lives in the terror attacks and other activities of Hamas and others, and little concern shown for the self-inflicted harm resulting from much of the anti-Israel terror.

The single-mindedness of the U.N.’s vilification of Israel has been breathtaking. As observed by Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, “The U.N.’s assault on Israel with a torrent of one-sided resolutions is surreal. It’s absurd that in the year 2020, out of a total 23 of U.N. General Assembly resolutions that criticize countries, 17 of them — more than 70 percent — were focused on one single country: Israel. Make no mistake: The purpose of the lopsided condemnations is to demonize the Jewish state.”

So it was with great surprise that we learned that in what appears to be a routine, below-the-radar resolution passed by the U.N. General Assembly last week, the world body included subtle criticism of Hamas, Hezbollah and other bad actors in the Middle East, and had elements that seemed to favor Israel.

The provisions in question were part of the General Assembly’s bi-annual review of Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, which was supposed to have been handled last year, but was delayed because of the COVID pandemic. Within the resolution, the General Assembly did three things that got our attention: First, it condemned the use of civilians as human shields during military operations, a common practice by terrorists — and especially Hamas in Gaza — that imperils innocent lives. Second, for the first time ever, the General Assembly condemned terrorism directed toward Jews, among others. And third, it condemned the use of the internet to recruit terrorists.

These three unexpected provisions — tucked away in the broader Global Terror resolution — are a welcome change, even if the reporting of them has been muted. We hope the provisions signify a new level of honesty in the U.N.’s General Assembly. But we aren’t sure.

In order to gauge the significance of the provisions, we would like to understand what prompted them. And we admit that our lingering uncertainty underscores how diminished the U.N. has become in our minds as a result of the organization’s historic and unrelenting anti-Israel bias.

We are skeptical whether the newfound morality added to the recent U.N. resolution is a sign of a meaningful shift in the U.N.’s policy, or just a minor adjustment. We will withhold judgment until we see what comes next.

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