“The UN’s unique legitimacy flows from a universal perception that it pursues a larger purpose than the interests of one country or a small group of countries.”
Atal Bihari Vajpayee
“I remember how it was in 1948 when Israel was being established and all my Jewish friends were ecstatic, I was not. I said: what are we doing? We are establishing ourselves in a ghetto, in a small corner of a vast Muslim sea.
The Muslims will never forget nor forgive, and Israel, as long as it exists, will be embattled.
I was laughed at, but I was right.
I can’t help but feel that the Jews didn’t really have the right to appropriate a territory only because 2000 years ago, people they consider their ancestors, were living there. History moves on and you can’t really turn it back.”
“We must acknowledge and take responsibility for the conflicts we have helped to create, and act to create real change. That, after all, is the true hallmark of democracy — a commitment to justice, honest self-appraisal, and action — even when it means challenging ourselves and the political institutions we hold most dear.”
Let me be clear.
But laughing at politics is not beyond my pay grade <albeit I dislike laughing at the expense of Israel or any country’s citizens>.
And I have to laugh a little at how quickly politicians have run to the spotlight to display their outrage over how USA abstained over a UN vote which, frankly, was unanimously agreed to by 14 countries <Russia, Spain, China included>, was not a sanctions vote but a vote of disapproval <therefore it was mostly ceremonial in nature> and was … well … exactly what has been discussed since 1967.
And I have to laugh a little at how quickly the United Nations itself gets diminished by one vote in one committee while the politicians overlook the dozens of other things the UN actually does globally <see the end of this piece for links to all they do>.
As for the USA abstention.
USA is the current global leader on foreign policy standards & behavior <how countries treat each other>.
That is undebatable.
We may forego our leadership position at some point but for now … we lead by our core belief positions. This does not mean USA claims moral superiority over all countries but rather we stand for more of a policy moral consistency – a fair & balancing role globally.
This creates some issues when you have allies because … well … your leadership values stances can sometimes run contrary to one of your ally’s needs or beliefs.
I say that because as a leader your global ‘standards’ have to reign supreme over individual/situational decisions.
I will most likely get this wrong <or oversimplify> but USA foreign policy standards seem to center on three core beliefs:
- Freedom of belief/thought <we believe a country should not dictate thought, or demand a religious belief of all its citizens, and people should be free to express their beliefs within the construct of the governance>. This includes freedom of religion.
- Self determination. A country, determined by the desires of the majority of the settled population, determines its own statehood and forms its own allegiances and government.
- All countries are created equal. We may have alliances and we may disagree with how a country is governed but the rights of one country are not of lesser value to the rights of another country <or a geographic population>.
Settlements and equality of rights <as a country>.
To me … the Israel Palestine ‘two settlement discussion’ is not about USA – Israel relationships. It has much larger repercussions with regard to all three of our core policy beliefs globally. In other words … the decision and stance USA takes with regard to Israel situation must embrace all other situations globally. The two settlement or ‘countries/citizens are equal’ belief is a global discussion with global repercussions.
Therefore … we need to take into consideration:
China – Taiwan.
Russia – Crimea/Eastern Ukraine/Estonia <primarily Russian speaking population areas>.
Pakistan – India.
Pick your “two settlement” issue.
If we permit Israel to settle on some land simply because they believe it is their right to do so then what is to stop China from settling in Taiwan, Russia to settle in Eastern Ukraine or Turkey to settle in Kurdistan.
This suggests, to me, that looking at what is happening between the US and Israel right now as some issue between the two countries as … well … shortsighted.
Freedom of thought.
This can be found in the USA’s statement expressing the belief Israel needs to choose between being a country or a religious state. That is their difficult decision. In other words … am I country for which Judaism is the core of who and what we are but we welcome any other beliefs … or am I a Jewish state where I demand my citizens acknowledge Judaism.
This is not semantics.
For example … in the USA we accept people who believe in Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, as well as ‘no God’. We accept all and we demand nothing of people other than they permit others to believe what they want.
I imagine USA would prefer the former choice by Israel but believe Israel would prefer the latter choice and, with either, a two state solution is better for any and all.
Jewish people deserve their homeland. And Israel was created after WordWar2 to provide them their ancestral home. They also deserve a home & country with security for its citizens <therefore, USA can support their defense & security while still disavowing the settlements>. And, as I noted in a past Middle East thought of the day piece, I cannot imagine living in a country which is basically an ideology island in the middle of an alternative ideological ocean.
The difficulty resides in the fact that Palestinians also had a home there.
The other difficulty is that first the Ottomans <Turkey> and next England <after World War 1> took away the Arabs self-determination. Trying to assess who’s self-determination is more valid is … well … silly <and destructive>.
The USA standard is a person is a person and self-determination is self-determination.
“If every single Jew born anywhere in the world has the right to become an Israeli citizen, then all the Palestinians who were chucked out of Palestine by the Zionist Government should have the same right, very simple.”
Israel, therefore, deserves their homeland.
Palestine, therefore, deserves its homeland <in other words … their ‘homes’ under the British Palestinian Protectorate>.
Both claim Jerusalem as holy city. I go back to ‘freedom of thought’ and point out that Israel has a difficult choice.
But from a larger, more global perspective, you arrive at a two state solution.
We should also note that this self-determination thought also bleeds into Taiwan <they have the self-determination right to exist as a separate state> and Estonia <they have the self-determination right to exist as a separate country>.
This USA standard of belief supported the breakup of the Soviet Union as well as the breakup of Yugoslavia.
I bring those up because Trump’s antics have made all of these issues more relevant in today’s world.
In the end.
For some reason in today’s world we seem to want to apply a simplistic filter over everything.
We want to treat each incident, first, with some knee jerk response and, second, as something mutually exclusive of anything else in existence.
It is extremely short sighted and short term in its thinking.
I fully understand everyone in politics wanting to make some political points to the public but I believe the public is better served if we examine the complexity of what is rather than ‘dumb it down’ to some false simplicity.
I fully understand that the general everyday schmuck, like me, wants to view something as ‘common sense’ or ‘allies deserve better’ or ‘looks simple’ but … well … let’s face it — the world is not simple, just because it is your best friend doesn’t mean you agree with everything they do and say and common sense doesn’t always apply when religion is involved.
All of this is way beyond my pay grade.
I only know it is significantly more complex than what some talking heads on television and politicians looking to score talking points make it out to be.
I only know that Israel is in an untenable position of which I once wrote:
Israel, in the end, after all the religious & holy & statesmanship words … I believe Crazy Horse summed up why I thought about Israel and the Indians when he said … “We preferred our own way of living … all we wanted was peace and to be left alone.” <Crazy Horse>
An UN does a shitload more than vote on Israel and Palestine issues.
As I noted in my Global Citizen Music piece :
The eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), agreed on by world leaders at a UN summit in 2000, set specific targets on poverty alleviation, education, gender equality, child and maternal health, environmental stability, HIV/AIDS reduction, and a ‘Global Partnership for Development.’
If you are not aware of the Millennium Development Goals take a minute and visit the following sites. The first outlines the specific Goals as well as does a very nice job outlining the pragmatic steps to address them and a report of performance to date <some businesses could learn a lesson with regard to how they do this> and the second link is the formal declaration itself.
UN Development Programme:
United Nations Millennium Declaration:
I imagine the everyday person probably has no clue what the United Nations actually does <in a practical sense> as well as wonders about its value … and both are a shame in different ways.
If nothing else the Millennium Development Goals should explain the value of the United Nations.
Please. Please take a minute and look.
I am not asking you to actually take action other than read. Because awareness of issues is half the battle. And, who knows, you may find one of their goal initiatives is something you have a passion.