Commentary and Newsletters

Anne Bayefsky

Shame On Bush And Condi

Friday, January 9, 2009

This article, by Anne Bayefsky, originally appeared in Forbes.

Betrayal. No other word describes the reversal of American foreign policy that took place on the night of Jan. 8 when the U.S. refused to veto the Security Council resolution on Gaza.

A president whose friendship and alliance with Israel once appeared honest, perceptive and unshakable, decided two weeks before leaving office to throw Israel to the wolves. The resolution calls for a ceasefire in Gaza and does not even mention the word "Hamas."

There will no longer be a need for an Obama transition team on foreign policy. The outgoing president and secretary of State have done it all. Yesterday's resolution, along with another Condoleezza Rice-inspired resolution from mid-December, draws Israel into a Security Council spider web that U.N. enthusiasts have been weaving for decades.

Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton can simply step into George W. Bush and Condi Rice's shoes, label themselves new-age multilateralists and let the chips--in this case, remnants of Israel--fall where they may.

The Security Council resolution makes a mockery of Israel's right of self-defense. In fact, it makes no mention of a right of self-defense at all. Eight thousand mortars have rained down on Israel from the Gaza Strip over a period of eight years.

Israel withdrew every Israeli man, woman and child from Gaza three and a half years ago. Yet the United Nations draws an equivalence between a terrorist organization whose very modus operandi is to target civilians and a state whose aim is to protect civilians, Israeli and Palestinian.

Arab states could scarcely contain their glee. The U.K. went out in front and accepted the idea of a much stronger resolution instead of a Security Council presidential statement, and Secretary of State Rice rolled over and played dead within minutes.

Veto-wielding powers had reportedly given undertakings to Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Olmert that they would not permit a resolution. These promises were ignored in the face of allegedly enormous pressure from undemocratic thugs, state sponsors of terrorism and weak democracies cowering at the prospect of unhappy Muslim constituencies or a dent in their bank accounts from belligerent Arab sheiks. What, moaned U.S. officials, was poor Condi to do?

Here is what she did:

1. The resolution she supported makes no mention whatsoever of Israel's right of self-defense.

2. The resolution calls for a ceasefire while Israel is still under fire, thus gutting the right of self-defense.

3. The resolution puts a right of "all" states "to live in peace"--though Israel is the only state under fire--in its preamble instead of in the operative section of the resolution, where it would have carried substantive weight.

4. The resolution expresses grave concern only about the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. No concern is expressed over the humanitarian crisis in Israel that has forced half a million people into underground holes for eight years and left Jewish children growing up with the trauma of fleeing and hiding throughout their young lives.

5. The resolution makes no mention of any need to return Hamas kidnap-victim and Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. It does not even demand that Hamas or the Palestinian Authority abide by the humanitarian requirement under international law to permit a single visit to Shalit from the International Red Cross or any other international agency.

6. The resolution calls for "unimpeded" provision and distribution throughout Gaza of myriad forms of humanitarian assistance--which obviously makes the conduct of war against Hamas terrorists impossible.

7. The resolution condemns "all acts of terrorism"--without mentioning the identity of the terrorist--leaving Islamic countries to claim that Israel is the state terrorist and that the condemnation has nothing to do with Hamas.

8. The resolution places no mandatory responsibility on Egypt to stop the trafficking of weapons into the terrorist-controlled Gaza strip. It merely "calls for member states to intensify efforts" to stop the trafficking.

9. The resolution promotes further international intervention in the Arab-Israeli conflict, rather than a negotiated settlement between the two parties, by " international meeting in Moscow in 2009." Code language for shoving U.N. terms and conditions down Israel's throat.

10. The kicker is that the Security Council "decides to remain seized of the matter." This means Israel's failure to abide by any of the points in the resolution is grounds for more and more Security Council meetings designed to thwart Israel's right to defend itself against the terrorism that threatens all civilized societies.

When it was over, Secretary of State Rice "abstained" with the following words: "this resolution, the text of which we support, the goals of which we support, and the objectives that we fully support, should indeed be allowed to go forward." These words led other ambassadors to point out that the resolution had, in effect, been adopted by consensus.

For over half a century, the state of Israel and its tiny population has been on the front lines of a war against an evil that plagues every decent human being on earth. Israel has time and again sacrificed its children in freedom's cause.

In leaving Israel to fend for itself in an international arena controlled by the enemies of decency and good, President Bush walks shamefully off the international stage, leaving in shambles everything he has stood for since Sept. 11, 2001.

Israel's prime minister reacted to the resolution today by pointing to the obvious: It "will not be honored in actual fact by the Palestinian murder organizations." And though UN actors wish it were otherwise, "The State of Israel has never agreed that any outside body would determine its right to defend the security of its citizens."

This is a universal principle with which every American--and the U.N. Charter--would agree.