The Corner

Diplomatic Seriousness and UN-seriousness

This week, New York City — America — will play host to two tainting and tainted sets of affairs at the United Nations. First, the most dangerous man in the world heading the most dangerous regime in the world, President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad of Iran, will arrive here to speak. To compound the shame, Columbia University has again invited Ahmedinejad to its campus, even hosting a private dinner with him and students. In passing, it is worth noting that until this year, Columbia did not allow ROTC on campus — this, however, will be Ahmedinejad’s second invitation.

To our shame, our government will allow all of this. To remind, this is a state holding American hostages; funding and supporting Hezbollah; and thwarting every possible nuclear non-proliferation effort of every possible international agency and organization. As for how Iran operates, it leads the world in imprisoning journalists, crushes political and religious dissent with violence, and hangs homosexuals. As Michael Ledeen has pointed out, if you want to know what Iran would do to us if it could, look at what it does to its own people as it can.

As William Bennett and I have been arguing for years, Ahmedinejad should not be given a State Department visa to come here. Once upon a time we had statesmen in both parties who understood this principal, and there is precedence on this: In 1983, after the Soviets shot down KAL Flight 007, Governors Tom Keane of New Jersey and Mario Cuomo of New York refused to give landing rights to Andrei Gromyko, the foreign minister of the Soviet Union. The Soviets and other members of the General Assembly threatened to pick up and move from New York and Jeane Kirkpatrick’s deputy, Charles Lichenstein, stood up in the U.N. and said “We will put no impediment in your way. The members of the U.S. mission to the United Nations will be down at the dockside waving you a fond farewell as you sail off into the sunset.” Nobody sailed and nobody waved.

The second disgrace will be the Palestinian government’s — or one of the governments — quest for statehood. According to the New York Times, the White House is “scrambling” to prevent this. Why? By what right, and by what moral authority, does Barack Obama have to lecture and try to prevent the UN from giving the Palestinians a state when he has spent the last four years (including in his campaign) lecturing Israel that they must recognize a Palestinian state? It gets worse — a lot of people here may have forgotten, but the Palestinians have not: Last year at the U.N., Barack Obama said “[W]hen we come back here next year, we can have an agreement that will lead to a new member of the United Nations — an independent, sovereign state of Palestine, living in peace with Israel.” Others can argue this line is being taken out of context, as it was predicated on certain concessions by the Palestinians, but the words heard by the Palestinians were not about concessions — they never are because they are never enforced — they were about recognition.

Here is the problem: A Palestinian state right now, and for any possible set of years to come, would be illegal by the U.N.’s own charter. Chapter II of the Charter states, “Membership in the United Nations is open to all other peace-loving states which accept the obligations contained in the present Charter and, in the judgment of the Organization, are able and willing to carry out these obligations.” Some of those obligations include “To develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self determination of peoples, and to take other appropriate measures to strengthen universal peace.”

The Palestinian Authority (PA) had once been separated from Hamas — a terrorist organization as so identified by our own State Department. No longer. This year, the PA and Hamas reunited and buried their diplomatic axes. That burial, by the way, was orchestrated by the new Egypt we helped create, shortly after Hosni Mubarak was forced from office. But what of the PA without Hamas? The head of the PA, Mahmoud Abbas, is the head of Fatah — that’s his political party. Fatah has named parks and camps after terrorists, terrorists who’ve not only killed Israelis but Americans. Fatah’s flag and emblem is not, to this day, a flag and emblem that shows its state on the West Bank or Gaza, the flag depicts the entirety of Israel, covered by two rifles and a grenade.

Perhaps this is why Mahmoud Abbas said earlier this month exactly this: “We are going to complain that as Palestinians we have been under occupation for 63 years.” Sixty-three years ago is not when Israel took the West Bank and Gaza, that would have been 44 years ago. Sixty-three years ago is the founding of Israel, period. It’s the founding of two states actually: the Arab state and the Jewish state — and the Arabs went to war 63 years ago because they would not accept a Jewish state anywhere on that land. The Jews didn’t go to war, they accepted it — and lost one percent of their population in defending against that war, defending their tiny state. The Palestinians have been at war with Israel ever since. This is why the PLO was founded in 1964, before Israel had the West Bank and Gaza, not after. That didn’t happen until 1967.

To this day, official entities from the media to the education system in this nascent state of Palestine teach and preach terrorism. They train their children to glorify suicide bombers in their schools as the state’s media outlets celebrate those suicide bombers who have shown the way.  This is not war, this is civilization abuse. The simple case against Palestinian statehood is this: We are surfeited enough with terrorist states—we do not need one more Iran or one more Syria at the U.N. or anywhere else for that matter.

The sad truth is that every effort by every administration that has given credibility and hope to Palestinian statehood has led to the “scrambling” we all now face. The terrorists who use the U.N. for their ends are serious; the only relevant question is “Are we?”

— Seth Leibsohn is a fellow at the Claremont Institute and the co-author, with William J. Bennett, of The Fight of Our Lives: Knowing the Enemy, Speaking the Truth, and Choosing to Win the War Against Radical Islam.


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