The protests, riots, and looting in the wake of the death of George Floyd took a backseat as The New York Times editorial page team decided a few days ago that it was more important for the paper to criticize Israel for considering to “annex” parts of Judea and Samaria.
We’re witnessing the worst violence and civil unrest to shake the city since the 1991 Crown Heights riots, but the Times could not desist from condemning Israel for something it has not yet done.
It is more concerned with what a foreign nation does with an area 1/180 the size of Texas and 1/23 the area of the adjacent Kingdom of Jordan. Why isn’t the Times concentrating more on the lives and property of New Yorkers?
The Times wrote: “there are many reasons actual annexation is a bad idea. The main reason is that the West Bank is regarded by international organizations and most of the world as occupied territory, and the Jewish settlements as illegal under the Geneva Convention.” So once again, the Times is singling Israel out for criticism and holding it to a higher standard than it does any other country.
Many pro-Israel activists point out Israel’s security needs, the Palestinian Authority’s continuous incitement, historical and religious claims, the legality of “the settlements,” and the like. But these are all defensive positions and by their very nature do very little to change the closed minds of people like those that make up the readership of the Times. Holding Israel to a higher and unfair standard will not end in the foreseeable future. Individuals who care about Israel’s future need to internalize that.
The opinion of the Times or the UN about Israel’s choices matters much less than the result of these said choices.
A quick review of the history of just a few of the times Israel was criticized by the UN for its actions because it supposedly violated “international law” is instructive:
Remarkably, the Times’s editorial was published just days after the 60th anniversary of the capture of Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann. After the Mossad’s capture of Eichmann in Argentina, the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 138 complaining it was a “violation of the sovereignty of a Member State.”
Then 20 years later, on July 30, 1980, the Knesset ratified the “Basic Law: Jerusalem, Capital of Israel” that, among other things, applied sovereignty to the city. United Nations Security Council Resolution 478 attacked Israel for the move.
On June 7, 1981, an Israeli air force raid destroyed the Osirak nuclear reactor under construction in Iraq. The United Nations adopted Security Council Resolution 487 criticizing Israel for the operation.
On December 14, 1981, Israel’s Knesset passed the Golan Heights Law through which Israeli law was applied to the Golan Heights. The United Nations Security Council Resolution 497 called the Israeli action “null and void and without international legal effect.”
The threat of resolutions did not stop Menachem Begin from doing what was in Israel’s best interest and was needed to protect its very existence.
Can one imagine what the Gulf War would have looked like had Saddam Hussein possessed nuclear-armed SCUD missiles or what the Syrian Civil War would have meant for Israel if Assad controlled the Golan?
In the end, what did the UN’s Security Council Resolutions really mean for Israel? Was there any tangible impact? Any lasting impact at all?
It is worth noting that Begin was not alone in the 1980s in seeing his actions criticized by the UN. President Ronald Reagan’s 1986 order to bomb Libya and 1983 order to invade Grenada also were condemned by the UN and called illegal.
In the aftermath of the 1976 Entebbe rescue mission, then UN Secretary General Kurt Waldheim described the raid as “a serious violation of the national sovereignty of (Uganda) a United Nations member state.”
The UN sides with Israel’s enemies again and again. And that is the simple truth.
We cannot hold our breath and wait for the UN to approve Israel’s actions – even an action such as this, which is in reality simply the enforcing of the 1920 San Remo conference’s binding international treaty that called for all of this land to be included in the Jewish homeland.
What we can do is remind Israel’s leaders, and ourselves, that instead of hesitating, Israel should look to the five examples mentioned above and gain the confidence necessary to do necessary things. History has taught us this. It has also taught us that Israel is not hurt by UN criticism and threats.