There are no shortages of wars in the Middle East; just a selective application of sympathy and condemnation.
US-Syria July 2016
On July 20, 2016, U.S.-led forces killed dozens of civilians, including children who were in their homes. That strike brought the total Syrian civilians killed by U.S.-led forces to over 100 people in July.
The story was barely covered in mainstream media like the New York Times, where one would have to dig inside the paper for reports of the killings. The liberal paper continued to protect its liberal president, especially as his former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton campaigned to become the next U.S. president.
The United Nations, whose headquarters is hosted in the United States, also remained almost completely silent on the mass murder of civilians.
The United Nations Secretary General (UNSG) Ban Ki-Moon did not utter a word.
Instead, his deputy spokesman, Farhan Haq, spoke about the civilian deaths in passing, the middle of various other reports. He never mentioned that the killings were committed by U.S.-led forces.
The approach of the UN could not be more different than its approach to Israel two summers earlier.
Israel – Gaza July 2014
On July 22, 2014, the UNSG flew into Ramallah where he reported to the United Nations Security Council. While he condemned Hamas’s firing of rockets into Israel, he only spoke of Palestinian Arab civilians who were impacted by the fighting:
“I have also discussed Israel’s legitimate security concerns with Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ya’alon, and I am going to continue my meetings with President Peres as well as other Ministers.
I once again strongly condemn the indiscriminate rocket fire launched by Hamas and Islamic Jihad from Gaza into Israel. I am also alarmed by Israel’s heavy response and the corresponding high civilian death toll.
Since this Council was briefed on Sunday the violence has reached even more alarming levels.
Yet again, too many civilians, including many children, are paying the price for this latest escalation…
I want to stress how deeply proud I am of our many UN colleagues, with UNRWA in the lead, courageously assisting the people of Gaza under such difficult circumstances.
They are providing crucial relief and shelter to civilians in imminent danger. The escalation of violence is now acutely affecting UNRWA’s regular operations.
A total of 23 UNRWA installations are closed as a result of the conflict. A total of 77 UNRWA installations have been damaged since 1 June as a result of the conflict.
The premises have been used to store weapons. This is unacceptable.
Today, about 100,000 people – more than 5 percent of the population of Gaza – are seeking shelter with UNRWA.
In the past, our premises in Southern Lebanon and Gaza have been hit with serious loss of life. I call on Israel to exercise particular care to avoid another unfortunate incident….
This is the third time as Secretary-General that I have had to come on an emergency mission to the region to help end a crisis.
That means the children of Gaza are now living through the third major assault in the last five years of their young lives.
The horror and upheaval is beyond imagination.
The cycle of suffering must end.
The parties must seize the opportunity to not only renew a ceasefire but also support durable political, security, institutional and socioeconomic progress that stabilizes Gaza.”
Ban Ki-Moon never recognized that almost 80% of Israelis were being fired upon by Hamas rockets. He did not recognize the Israeli civilians hiding in shelters. He did not remember the children of Israel “living through the third major assault in the last five years of their young lives,” but only the Palestinian Arabs. He did not seek global support for the security and stability of Israel.
Why is the UNSG’s so deeply engaged on behalf of Palestinian Arabs? Why does Ban Ki Moon continue to call out Israelis? In comparison, why doesn’t he even mention the United States’ killing of 100 civilians?
UNRWA and Money
As detailed in “The United Nations’ Adoption of Palestinians, Enables it to Only Find Fault with Israel,” the UN has a unique relationship with Palestinian Arabs. The UN has become the guardians to these stateless Arab wards. As the UN has set up unique institutions just for this group of Arabs, the UN is put in the position of always defending them.
The UN shelters and protects the Palestinian Arabs, so attacks on them result in attacks on the UN. The voices that the UN hears each day are of Palestinian Arabs, not Israelis. As such, The UN Can’t Support Israel’s Fight on Terrorism since it Considers Israel the Terrorists.
This is in sharp contrast to every other conflict in the world, where the UN can act as an unbiased neutral party.
The comparison becomes more dramatic when the UNSG deals with permanent members of the UN Security Council, or other countries where the UN seeks to gain influence and money. Such as Saudi Arabia.
On June 9, 2016, the UNSG made a rare public admission that he dropped listing the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) as a country that has killed many civilians, during KSA’s airstrikes in Yemen. In defending his removal of KSA, Ban Ki-Moon said “I also had to consider the very real prospect that millions of other children would suffer grievously if, as was suggested to me, countries would de-fund many U.N. programs.”
In other words, the UN is not an arbiter of right-and-wrong. It is a political beast that must move towards money and power.
US and Afghanistan, The Obama War
To further underscore the point, the United Nations reported on the state of war in Afghanistan on July 25, 2016. The first half of 2016 saw the greatest number of civilian casualties – including 1,509 children – since US President Obama took office in January 2009. The total number of civilian casualties since 2009 stood at 63,934, a number that the report claimed was very conservative.
The US-led war broke apart a country. The US’s pro-government forces were responsible for 40% of the civilian casualties – and growing. The first six months of 2016 saw a startling increase of 47% more civilian casualties from pro-government forces, even while casualties from the anti-government forces saw a decline.
But the UN report never called out the United States publicly. It never suggested that the US attacked civilians intentionally, as the UN does for Israel. Just consider this language from the report:
“While noting international military forces’ efforts to minimize civilian casualties during aerial operations, UNAMA encourages the NATO/Resolute Support to increase the level of transparency during investigations into civilian casualties and provide adequate and timely redress for civilians impacted by their operations.“
Did the UN ever highlight the phone calls, leaflets dropped, “knock on the roof” ordinances that Israel deployed in Gaza? A door-to-door effort without aerial bombardment to minimize civilian casualties at great risk to the lives of Israeli soldiers?
That is the sorry state of the United Nations. Rich and powerful countries, and those with large voting blocks (like the block of Islamic countries) get to dictate the agendas and avoid condemnation, while small countries with a fraction of the budget get picked on. In the case of Israel, the dynamic is compounded by a biased judge.
Yet remarkably, a call that should be easy for progressives – fighting back against power and money – is lacking. US progressives should rally to Israel and against the UN. Instead, they united with the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.
It is well past time for an overhaul of the United Nations. It is also time for progressives to rethink their anti-Israel attitudes.
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