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Why UN Security Council Resolution Will Have Zero Effect on Israeli Settlements

The UN condemnation of Israel's settlements matters only if you think there’s an 'international community' that really cares | Opinion

David Rosenberg
David Rosenberg
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A construction site is seen in the Israeli settlement of Givat Zeev, in the occupied West Bank December 22, 2016.
A construction site is seen in the Israeli settlement of Givat Zeev, in the occupied West Bank December 22, 2016. Credit: Baz Ratner, Reuters
David Rosenberg
David Rosenberg

From the Israeli government’s diplomatic temper tantrum to the paeans sung in praise of the UN Security Council by the Palestinians and their allies, you might think that something actually happened last Friday at the United Nations.

In fact, nothing much happened at all when the Security Council backed a resolution declaring Israel’s West Bank settlements illegal. The settlements will keep being built. No one will really do much about it and the peace process will remain in deep freeze. The Palestinians’ situation is as hopeless as it’s ever been.

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The reason for everyone’s hysterical reaction is because of the overlay of political myths that are wrapped around the Israeli-Palestinian issue. Here are four of them.

Fighting for females?

No. 1: The settlements are a concern of the international community, as evidenced by the Security Council’s 14-0 vote.

True, the international consensus is that the settlements are illegal, but it’s a consensus akin to the ones like “women are entitled equal rights” and that “elections should be free and fair.” In the international forums of the great and good, that’s what everyone says because it’s politically correct, but anyone observing the real world can see that democracy is in retreat and that no country has ever gone to war or declared a boycott of another country for the treatment of its female population.

Resolution 2334 is notably lacking in any concrete measures to follow up on the decision and isn’t going to cause countries to reconsider their policies towards Israel. They were free to choose to boycott Israel before – and no one outside the Arab-Muslim world has – and no government is likely to change its policy now. That’s the real international consensus.

No. 2: There’s no “international community” in the first place. This is a fantasy of nongovernment organizations, academics, the media and a few Western governments that want to believe the world is uniting in a great march to an era of human rights, freedom and democracy. Of course, there are forces fighting it, like Donald Trump, Benjamin Netanyahu, Vladimir Putin and so forth, but the other 99% are on board.

Read more on the Security Council resolution:Netanyahu is dragging Israel into the abyss / Editorial | Punishing the world for UN vote will be worse for Israel than BDS / Analysis | Israel Won’t Honor All Its Knee-jerk Reactions / Analysis | World begins to rescue Israel from itself / Analysis Obama, where have you been for 8 wasted years? / Analysis | Why the Palestinians are jubilant and Israel is spooked / Analysis | Security Council punch knocks Netanyahu down from hubris to humiliation / Analysis | What will the immediate ramifications of the UN resolution be?

The countries that voted for the resolution included some that believe in all these things, like the United States, France, Britain, Japan and Spain. But it also included Russia and China, which have occupied territories of their own - Crimea and Tibet, and the many of the others (Angola, Egypt, Senegal, Ukraine and Venezuela) that aren’t exactly paragons of the bright new era. Venezuela, for one is letting its people die for lack of food or medicine while the government resists early elections. How does that make it a member of the “international community”?

No. 3: Barack Obama is anti-Semite who has been waiting and planning for the last eight years to show his true colors. We knew that because he only agreed to give Israel $38 billion in military aid, didn’t put Jerusalem on his Middle East itinerary after he was first elected and reached a nuclear accord with Iran to ensure that one day Israel would be destroyed.

Normally this kind of stuff doesn’t deserve comment, but in the era of post-truth, nothing seems to be too moronic to be believed.

Obama is clearly a friend of Israel, but he has violated a fundamental taboo of the Israeli and Jewish right by not approving of the settlements (See Myth No. 4 below). The president thinks the occupation is not in Israel’s interest and that the growing settler population precludes an agreement ever being reached. Obama tried to get Israel to see the light and failed, and was repeatedly dissed by Netanyahu. It’s not a shock that at the end of it all, the president decided to give the prime minister a symbolic slap in the face. There are not a few of us who don’t fantasize about doing the same and we’re not all anti-Semites.

No. 4: Israel and the settlements are one and the same.

The formula is simple for those who believe it: If you don’t wholly support the settlements, it means you hate Israel, and if you hate Israel you are hoping for its destruction. So, you’re an anti-Semite, too, because you want to see Israel destroyed.

Forget Obama: polls show the majority of American Jews support a two-state solution and think most or all the settlements should be dismantled to accomplish it. Are we supposed to assume that while they’re writing their Federation checks every year, they’re humming the Horst Wessel Song? Maybe. In the post-truth era, polls have gone the way of other inconvenient facts into the paper shredder of history. The alternative to them, however, is dangerous fantasies.



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