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September 3, 2015 / 19 Elul, 5775
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The UNESCO Paradigm

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We always bristle at the preachments of even Israel’s few friends that it should rely on agreements and international good will as significant elements in its national security planning as it negotiates its final borders. In the final analysis, realistic borders based on a serious evaluation of probable military threats must be primary.

That principle was only reinforced by the recent goings-on at the UN and UNESCO.

UNESCO’s granting of full membership status to the Palestinian Authority in clear and direct contradiction of the standards for membership shows quite clearly that majority politics, rather than the legitimate interests of individual states, will always be the deciding factor.

And the PA’s failure by one vote to garner sufficient support in the Security Council for full membership – meaning that eight members were prepared to approve the laughable notion that the Palestinians meet the established criteria for membership – also makes the point.

Imagine – the PA came so close without a viable economy, without borders, without an army, and with Israel in control of most of the PA’s claimed territory and Hamas in control of most of the rest. And it is a foregone conclusion that, given the chance, the General Assembly would overwhelmingly vote for full membership for the Palestinians.

The recent UNESCO flap over a Haaretz cartoon, while comical, makes the point as well. Two weeks ago Haaretz ran a cartoon depicting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak sending off an air force squadron to attack Iran, with Netanyahu saying  “And on your way back, you’re gonna hit the UNESCO office in Ramallah.”

Coming soon after the UNESCO vote on Palestinian membership, the satirical point was unmistakable. Remarkably, though, a senior official at UNESCO called Israel’s ambassador to UNESCO in for a tongue-lashing. He was read a formal protest and told the cartoon constituted incitement: “A cartoon like this endangers the lives of unarmed diplomats, and you have an obligation to protect them. We understand that there is freedom of the press in Israel, but the government must prevent attacks on UNESCO.”

Given the venom, incitement and threats Arab UNESCO members routinely hurl Israel’s way without any protest from UNESCO, it’s plain the rules don’t apply where Israel is concerned. That a major organ of the UN would engage in such a stretch and accord seriousness to such an obvious political joke is proof positive that Israel, as always, must rely on its own devices.

We are not suggesting that Israel can go it alone. What we are saying is that Israel must rely chiefly on boundaries that provide for its optimum defense – and never on promises and commitments that depend on unreliable international bodies for implementation.

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