This Is What It Looks Like When America Leads
The United Kingdom is following the United States’ lead in saying “enough is enough” to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC).
The UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office announced last Friday that they are “putting the Human Rights Council on notice” because of the council’s standing agenda item to condemn Israel. The UK announced that it would vote against any future resolutions that are unbalanced in their condemnation of Israel:
Our enduring commitment to the universality of rights is also our source of enduring disappointment with the Council’s bias against Israel. Israel is a population of eight million in a world of seven billion. Yet since its foundation, the Human Rights Council has adopted 135 country-specific resolutions; 68 of which against Israel. Justice is blind and impartial. This selective focus on Israel is neither.
British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson followed up on Tuesday by criticizing the council’s “profound absurdity” for condemning Israel’s supposed human rights abuses on the Golan Heights, “when, after all, in that region of Syria we have seen the most appalling barbarity by the Assad regime.”
U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley signaled at her confirmation hearing in January that she would fight “outrageous” anti-Israel bias at the UN. She has kept to her word. After a minor UN agency produced a report co-written by a 9/11 conspiracy theorist that dubbed Israel an apartheid state, Haley demanded that the UN withdraw the report. UN Secretary-General António Guterres announced that the report was not authorized, demanded that the report be removed from the agency’s website, and over saw the resignation of the agency’s head. As Haley announced at the AIPAC Policy Conference on Monday, “there’s a new sheriff in town…the days of Israel-bashing are over.” She appeared at an anti-BDS event at the UN’s New York headquarters on Wednesday, stating that boycotts that focus solely on Israel bear “no connection to any reasonable definition of justice.”
Haley’s strong stand against anti-Israel bias at the UN is impressive. And it’s fair to attribute the stands taken recently by the UK to Haley’s determined efforts.
In 2004, Jerusalem Post columnist Evelyn Gordon praised then-U.S. Ambassador to the UN John Danforth for vetoing a Security Council resolution that faulted Israel for going after Hamas for firing rockets into Israel, but mentioned nothing about Hamas’s terrorism. Danforth, Gordon observed, was following a policy that had been adopted by the Bush administration that led to a small but significant change in how the Security Council operated.
“Over the last four years, however, there has been a shift,” Gordon wrote. “While no country has yet joined the U.S. in voting ‘no,’ there have consistently been two to four abstentions – usually from Europe, occasionally from Africa as well. Since Security Council resolutions need nine votes to pass, this means that the council has been inching toward a situation in which anti-Israel resolutions could be defeated even without an American veto.”
Gordon’s column, along with Britain’s recent actions, suggest that when the United States leads, other will follow, joining in the fight against the UN’s institutional anti-Israel bias.
BDS in Israel—Business, Development, and Science
In a world of multi-billion-dollar corporate buyouts, a $25 million investment might not seem like a lot, but the significance of General Electric’s investment in Israel-based Freightos Marketplace goes well beyond its dollar value. Freightos Marketplace is like Priceline for international shippers, allowing them to find the best price to move their goods across the globe. It is the largest such website in the world.
This is only the latest major Israeli business acquisition. Earlier this month, chip-making giant Intel bought Mobileye, an Israeli company that is at the forefront of developing the technology for driverless cars. As technology becomes a more important component of cars, major auto manufacturers like General Motors, Honda, Volvo, and Daimler have established research and development centers in Israel.
The Israeli company Water-Gen also came out in a big way this week, demonstrating its main invention at the AIPAC Policy Conference. Water-Gen’s cutting-edge process produces clean water out of the air’s moisture. This can be used around the world to address water shortages and save lives.
These examples show how Israel is at the center of the business, development, and science worlds. The essential role that Israel plays in these areas is one of the reasons that the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign to isolate Israel has failed to gain traction.
Pushing Back Against Iran
Two important voices emerged this week to call for a stronger stand against Iran’s destabilizing behavior.
Iran “aspires to be a regional hegemon” and remains “the most significant threat” to American interests in the Middle East, Gen. Joseph Votel, the commander of U.S. Central Command told a Congressional committee on Wednesday. In order to counter Iran’s hegemonic aspirations, the U.S. must adopt “a strong deterrence posture, targeted counter-messaging activities, and…building partner nations’ capacity,” Votel asserted. These steps must be backed with clear public communications to “ensure the credibility of U.S. intentions.”
Tzvi Kahn, a senior Iran analyst at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, lauded congressional efforts to target Iran with sanctions for its ballistic missile program, its support for terror and its violations of an arms embargo. Iran’s threats to leave the nuclear deal in response are empty, Kahn wrote, because “such a move would deprive the country of billions in international sanctions relief at a time when its economy, though improved since the agreement, remains fragile.” Kahn credited the introduced legislation as “a belated attempt to restore U.S. deterrence and call Tehran’s bluff.”
The Trump administration’s continued pushback against Iran’s aggression marks a change in approach from its predecessor. Bloomberg View columnist Eli Lake observed in November that the Obama administration had adopted a “policy of going beyond the nuclear agreement to keep Iran happy,” and wondered if “without extra efforts like Obama’s, Iran will be tempted to walk away from the agreement altogether.”
Hudson Institute senior fellow Lee Smith similarly wrote that month that the Obama administration had kept the nuclear deal alive “by bribing Iran, drumming up business for the clerical regime, blocking Congress from imposing non-nuclear sanctions, and turning a blind eye to Iranian violations of the deal.” Assessing that the deal “would likely have collapsed under a Hillary Clinton administration as well,” Smith argued that “all that needs to happen for the deal to fall apart is for the Trump White House to do what the Obama administration has refused to do—enforce its provisions.”
Miriam Peretz’s parents didn’t know much Hebrew growing up in Morocco. “But they knew one word in Hebrew: Yerushalayim,” she told Gabriel Groisman in his profile of her, and “they dreamt about the day they would move to Yerushalayim.” In 1964, her family’s wish was realized, and they were brought from the ghettos of Morocco to Israel by the Jewish Agency.
Peretz has earned the moniker “mother of the IDF” by giving motivational talks to soldiers. Unfortunately, her path to greatness was paved with tragedy. Her oldest son, Uriel, was killed at the age of 22 in 1998 as he led an elite commando unit into battle in Lebanon. Seven years later, her husband, heartbroken over the loss of his eldest son, died of a heart attack. In 2010, her second-born, Eliraz, was killed fighting in Gaza.
Miriam recounted the first time she was asked to speak to soldiers, a year after Uriel was killed.
My son Eliraz was in this group! He called me and said, ‘They invited a speaker, and that speaker cancelled.’ It was the day before Memorial Day. ‘Can you come to speak with these soldiers?’ And I said, ‘Eliraz, I don’t know how to speak with soldiers. What will I speak to them about?’ He said, ‘Mom, you have a notebook that Uriel’s soldiers wrote for you after Uriel died. Please take the notebook, read something, and say something. You are a principal of a school, you know how to speak!’ So I opened this notebook.”
Groisman writes about how, after Uriel died, Peretz gave the soldiers under his command a notebook to write memories of their commander: “Letters to a grieving mother. Letters about her son. About Uriel’s leadership. The letters spoke about how he not only taught his soldiers how to fight, but how to fight with faith in God. He taught his soldiers about loving the land of Israel. The letters are breathtaking. I sit and flip through them in awe.”
“When we go to Mount Herzl, I know my father dreamed about Jerusalem from Morocco,” Miriam stated. “But I never imagined that I would pay so much for this Jerusalem. For me, every place I go, every stone that I put my legs on in this land, I know that under these stones there is so much blood that we have paid to continue to walk on these stones. I paid a heavy price. I paid with the life of two of my children. The life of my husband. The dream of coming to Jerusalem cost us a lot. Now I pray for a day when there will be peace, when we will built the Beit HaMikdash—the Temple—and Jerusalem will not have sorrow, only happiness.”
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Three Big Questions
The Arab League expressed its support on Tuesday for the United Arab Emirates’ claim to three islands in the Strait of Hormuz, which are occupied by Iran. This past week, Iran sanctioned 15 U.S. companies for helping the “the Zionist regime in the occupied Palestinian territories.” Does Iran believe that its own government should be sanctioned for its illegal occupation?
Following the mysterious assassination of terrorist Mazen Fuqaha, which it blamed on Israel, Hamas released a video on Wednesday threatening Israel’s top security and defense officials. Even though Israel has not claimed responsibility for the killing, veteran Haaretz military correspondent Amos Harel noted that “if it was indeed Israel that assassinated Fuqaha, this sends a message of deterrence to other Shalit-deal deportees: that the Gaza Strip does not give you immunity. From the moment you violated your commitment and went back to engaging in terrorism, take into consideration that someone will settle accounts with you.” So: Are the leaders of Hamas angry, or scared?
Hamas has reportedly developed a powerful new rocket that can more powerfully bombard Israeli communities near the border with Gaza. The ammonia tank in Haifa, which could be shut down soon, is a stated target of Hezbollah. Western newspapers often write that Hamas or Hezbollah are “considered a terrorist group by Israel.” Given that targeting civilians is the goal of these two groups, isn’t it time to start explicitly calling them terror groups, with no qualifications?
[Photo: Foreign and Commonwealth Office / Flickr ]