Recently, the Secretary General of the United Nations commented, at last, on all of the terrorism against Israeli citizens perpetrated by many Palestinians. In essence, he said that the Israelis had it coming to them since they have been unable to satisfy all of the outrageous demands of the Palestinians that would automatically bring peace and light to our troubled land.
Both the Prime Minister of Israel and its ambassador to the UN criticized him bitterly for his words and lack of a balanced assessment of the realities of the situation. Stung by the temerity to criticize him, the Secretary General responded with an op-ed piece in the New York Times (where else would it be treated with the proper respect and publicity that it deserved) saying that Israel should not blame the messenger (him) but should rather hearken to the message he delivered in his remarks.
Somehow he misses the point entirely. In this case, the messenger is the message. Does the Secretary General of the UN really expect that any official statements of any UN appointee will find constructive acceptance in the eyes of most Israelis and their elected government? After over more than six decades of anti-Israel rhetoric, resolutions, condemnations and hate speech emanating from the UN against Israel we are fairly immune to whatever it has to say about us. Ben Gurion already labeled it all as being “oom –shmoom.” And so it was and so it remains.
There is no doubt that the United Nations can be a force for good and conciliation in the Middle East. It can be that necessary outside arbiter that can bring about positive pressure to change hardened positions and bring warring parties to moderation and compromise.
Such a role was truly envisioned for it when it was founded and formed from the international wreckage in the aftermath of World War II. It began hopefully for the Jewish people when the UN sanctioned the founding of the State of Israel. But almost immediately, the UN turned itself into a constant critic and enemy of the State of Israel. It helped facilitate the Arab refugee crisis and its unstinting support of the Arab cause prolonged and deepened the Arab-Israel struggle.
It has also allowed anti-Semitism to be legitimatized internationally. Willingly or otherwise the UN’s secretariat and officialdom has transformed itself from being the messenger to being the message – a message of anti-Israel bias and blatant hypocrisy. As such, it has lost all influence on Israeli society…..and only Israeli society can influence Israeli governmental policies and decisions.
If the Secretary General of the UN has constructive advice for the Israeli government there is no reason or justification for it to do so in a nasty tone in an op-ed article in the New York Times. That is how the messenger becomes the message itself. And the message is unfortunately one of bias, one-sidedness and a lack of realistic assessment of the facts on the ground. Such a message understandably will not resonate well within Israeli society and its governmental leadership.
The question that stares Israel in the face is a basic and difficult one. It is: “Is the current status quo, tension-laden situation between Israel and the Palestinians sustainable in the short term and even in the long term or not?” Not being gifted with prophecy I cannot really venture an intelligent answer to this quandary. But my heart tells me that these types of situations eventually break down in war (God forbid), diplomatic sanctions or increased constant violence.
Now, it takes two to tango and we are dealing with a pretty intractable adversary. There is not much room for negotiation with a foe that has as its goal, stated and publicized, to completely eradicate your nation state. The UN could be of help in talking to the Palestinians about realty and what is truly attainable for them with a live and let live arrangement with Israel.
The Palestinians probably also realize that the current situation cannot remain static for long. But as long as they think that the UN or the American State Department or the New York Times will deliver Israel to them on a silver platter they are unlikely to reassess their options and make progress towards some sort of modus vivendi that will benefit all concerned.
That should be the message that is transmitted and the Secretary General can then be a welcome and proper messenger to deliver that message. But until then, discounting the messenger is certainly understandable and even justified.