Commentary and Newsletters

Anne Bayefsky

Time to Say No to UN Hate for the Jewish State

Wednesday, December 7, 2005

U.S. Deputy UN Ambassador Anne Patterson told the UN's Budget Committee at the end of October that the United States sought the abolition of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People and of the Division of Palestinian Rights, as "biased UN programs" whose work is "inimical to...achieving a just and lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."

Both Republicans and Democrats have supported the Administration's call. Reps. Tom Lantos (D-Calif.), Ileana Ros Lehtinen (R-Fla.), Robert Wexler (D-Fla.) and Gary Ackerman (D-N.Y.), wrote recently to UN Ambassadors from the Middle East Quartet and called for their abolition along with the Special Committee on Israeli Practices.

But having had a free run at the UN for at least four decades the opposition is hardly going to roll-over after a few speeches. So what does the Administration and Congress plan to do in the face of the entrenched anti-Israeli lobby at the UN and the unwillingness to reform? The 2006-07 UN budget is now before the General Assembly. US UN Ambassador John Bolton gave some indication of a possible response when he told reporters last week "We do not want to be in a position where we adopt a budget next month and we get no more reform for the two-year life of the budget."

Right on cue, the knives came out. Along with the anticipated objections from Secretary General Kofi Annan that the usual policy of "pay now, we'll talk about your concerns later" is just fine, a December 2, 2005 New York Times editorial called any suggestion that the budget be held up or approved only for a short period of time "counterproductive." Iran, Sudan, Zimbabwe and company agree. Now take a look again at the map without a state of Israel, front and center on UN Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People in the year 2005, and ask yourself exactly what is counterproductive?

p.s. Although it amounts primarily to a symbolic gesture, Congress has adopted legislation holding back U.S. contributions to the Committee on Inalienable Rights, the Division and the Special Committee on Israeli Practices. The Information activities on the Question of Palestine have managed to slip by, as have some of the activities of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in a similar vein. Even follow-up to the 2001 Durban racist anti-racism conference continues to be part of US contributions to the UN budget. A much more careful look at the American dollars spent on the UN is in order.