Politics & Policy

Danforth Enters The Asylum

Israel-bashing greets our new ambassador to the U.N.

When last in public view, John Danforth was standing in the National Cathedral, garbed in his Episcopal minister’s robes, leading prayers at the funeral of Ronald Reagan. In many decades of public service, this was one of his finest moments. Now, this distinguished and dedicated man has been cast in an uncharacteristic role. As our new United Nations ambassador, the former Missouri senator is a serious man in an unserious place. And what an initiation this madhouse has in store for him.

#ad#The U.N. General Assembly is poised to vote–probably on Monday–on a Palestinian resolution to “implement” the International Court of Justice’s decision that the antiterrorist wall being built through and around the West Bank violates international law and must be torn down. It is only the latest chapter in the U.N.’s sorry history of Israel-bashing.

Ever since November 1947, when the U.N. General Assembly decreed the partition of Palestine into Jewish and Arab states, the U.N. has missed few opportunities to implicitly undo what it explicitly did. And it has complicated the Israeli/Palestinian conflict enormously by giving the dispossessed Palestinians of 1948–and the millions who claim their ancestry–refugee status forevermore, leaving them to the manipulation of their Arab neighbors who want nothing to do with them except to use them as cannon fodder against Israel.

The Arab states and the Palestinian Authority have succeeded time and again in their campaign to isolate Israel from the community of nations. Their first big success was in 1971 when the General Assembly–taking its cue from human-rights stalwart and then-Ugandan despot Idi Amin–passed a resolution declaring that Zionism was racism. (This odious resolution was repealed two decades later in the aftermath of the 1991 Gulf War.) Now, the July 9 decision of the ICJ will propel the General Assembly’s 191 members to pose Israel a choice: either dismantle one of your best defenses against terrorist attack or be branded an outlaw nation.

The ICJ decision is merely a political document that deserves no deference or serious consideration. The ICJ isn’t even supposed to rule on “contentious” cases in which one of the parties–in this case Israel–hasn’t consented to its jurisdiction. But the ICJ decided–over the dissenting vote of the lone American judge–to take jurisdiction despite this legal prohibition because the General Assembly was debating (continuously) the Israel/Palestinian conflict. (Note to Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson: When Kerry loses this November, you can write another letter to Kofi Annan, asking for the General Assembly to examine the election, and submit the matter to the ICJ.)

With untold decades of education and legal experience among them, the judges of the ICJ managed to conclude that the antiterrorist wall Israel impedes the liberty of movement of the inhabitants of the Palestinian areas. What the ICJ overlooked is the fact that the wall wouldn’t be necessary if the Palestinian terrorists hadn’t been using their previously unhindered access to Israeli territory to kill people. The Israelis decided to build the wall through the West Bank after having seen the almost 100-percent reduction in terrorist attacks emanating from the Gaza Strip after they built a similar wall there. Between September 2000 and November 2003–when I saw the West Bank wall being built–more than 100 suicide bombers made their way into Israel over open lands now being blocked by the wall, and killed hundreds of Israelis. The wall can be torn down, and Israel has promised it will be when a peace is made with the Palestinians. Those who the terrorist bombers kill can’t be restored to life. But the ICJ makes only a passing reference to its unsupported conclusion that the wall is unnecessary to Israeli security.

In the end, the ICJ sheds its cloak of jurisprudence by calling upon the General Assembly and the Security Council to, “…consider what further action is required to bring to an end the illegal situation resulting from the construction of the wall….” Israel has made it perfectly clear that it has no intention of abiding by the non-binding and improper ICJ decision. But the General Assembly is not going to turn down an engraved invitation to declare Israel an outlaw nation.

On Friday, the General Assembly began debating a resolution that demands Israel take down the wall and–if the PA representative, Nasser al-Kidwa, can work it out with the Old Europe block–will specify sanctions that the Security Council should impose on Israel if it continues to refuse to take the wall down.

As the Friday debate went on, al-Kidwa told the General Assembly, “Israel will have to choose whether to declare itself–officially, morally and legally–an outlaw state, or to reconcile itself with a new reality.” To which Israeli Ambassador Dan Gillerman replied that other nations in the Middle East did not offer citizens the rights and legal protections of the Israeli courts, which ordered part of the wall to be re-routed. “These regimes have the gall to speak of sanctions for a measure that saved lives,” he said. Gillerman added that for the PA to “lecture anyone about the rule of law or accuse others of being outlaws, we have indeed reached a point where the inmates are running the asylum.”

Today, Danforth will sit through the usual lectures on the sanctity of human rights from U.N. Human Rights Commission members such as Cuba, Egypt, China, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Uganda, and Zimbabwe. Then the U.N. will vote, and condemn Israel yet again. Danforth will–I hope–speak only briefly, vote no, and leave the inmates to their fun. Nothing that happens in the General Assembly has any legal status; only headlines and political damage result. He can, and should, veto any sanctions resolution in the Security Council that might come in later weeks. Welcome to the asylum, Ambassador Danforth, and good luck. You are going to need it.

NRO contributor Jed Babbin is the author of Inside the Asylum: Why the UN and Old Europe are Worse than You Think.

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