Beyond semantics, what kind of practical implications can arise from this and what hopes are there that the UN will accept such a recommendation?
In a way it’s semantics, but it’s more principle. It’s acknowledgement that the land and territorial rights of Jews have existed from time immemorial and have some protection. So when the UN comes along and adopts resolutions calling upon Israel to leave the territories, we can say no, your resolution is in violation of the UN’s own declaration protecting the rights of indigenous people. This would be the ultimate aim. And we have indications that it will be very difficult for them not to accept it because nobody can claim that we are not an indigenous people.
As a veteran diplomat, what advice can you offer those who try to defend Israel against its detractors?
Go on the attack. Stress our rights. It’s called rights-based diplomacy. Look how the Arabs have succeeded. I take off my hat to them. They’ve succeeded in taking over the UN, in taking the issue of settlements off the negotiating table and pressing it in front of Obama as a precondition. We’ve got to fight it. That’s why I’m against hasbara, which has become a catchword for apology. We should not apologize. We should push our rights; explain that Israel is an economic, high-tech giant. We’ve got so many positive things we’re doing.
About the Author: Sara Lehmann, a freelance writer living in Brooklyn, was formerly an editor at a major New York publishing house.
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