Monday, January 2, 2017

Putting the U.S-Israel conflict in context

The following letter was published in the MetroWest Daily News (Massachusetts) on January 2, 2017.

The article "Pick sparks hot debate," published December 27, touches on the controversy surrounding the appointment of David Friedman as American ambassador to Israel and Security Council Resolution 2334, enabled by the Obama Administration's clear signal that it would reverse longstanding policy and not veto this incredibly one-sided, anti-Israel resolution.

Both issues need to be put in context.

With modern communications, ambassadors are far less important than they used to be, since important communications are handled directly rather than going through ambassadors. I doubt very many people know the name ofthe current ambassador to Israel (Dan Shapiro); I'm sure even fewer know the names of our ambassadors to far larger countries like Great Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China. And it really doesn't matter, since the ambassador is compelled to represent the policies of the president, regardless of his personal opinions. It seems to me that people are using this particular appointment as an excuse to indirectly criticize the president-elect.

Personally, although I did not vote for him, I believe people should give him a chance and, for the good of all of us, wish him success.

Still, I recognize it's everyone's right to criticize him, but it would be more honest to do it directly.

With respect to the Security Council resolution, theproblem isn't just that it's so one-sided, that the Obama administration's going along with it reneged on the president's word to veto such one-sided resolutions and that his action of making a major change in American foreign policy as a lame duck and in opposition to the clear position of the incoming president was virtually unprecedented. Even if the resolution wasn't so outlandishly one-sided, what it said about the so-called Israeli "settlements" made a travesty of international law and, looked at objectively, was blatantly anti-Semitic.

The beginning of the resolution includes the text "Guided by the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, and reaffirming, inter alia, the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force, ...

"It uses this as a pretext to claim all building by Jews in the territory Israel recaptured in 1967 is a violation of international law.

However, all that territory was designated for a Jewish homeland by the League of Nations before it was captured by Jordan (then called Transjordan) when it, along with five other Arab armies, invaded Israel the day after its reestablishment in 1948. If Jews should not be allowed to build in that territory because it captured it by force in 1967 (after being attacked by Jordan), similarly Arabs should not be allowed to build there either, especially since they captured that territory in a war they started.

One may question the wisdom of Israeli building in certain areas, although the reality is that almost allIsraeli building has been in areas which everyone recognizes will remain with Israel in any conceivable peace agreement, but it is preposterous and a hypocritical double-standard to question Israel's legal right to build.

This Security Council Resolution claims it's a violation of international law for Jews to build homes in the Jewish Quarter. According to this resolution, if a Jew builds a home on the spot where his grandparents had their home before being forced out by Jordan, he's an international criminal. According to this resolution, it was a violation of international law for Israel to rebuild any of those synagogues destroyed by Jordan.

Can you imagine anything more absurd?

Anything more immoral?

Yet this immoral resolution, which drives another nail in the coffin of the so-called "peace process," was passed unanimously by the United Nations Security Council, enabled by the Obama administration.

Growing up, my father's office was just a few blocks from the United Nations.

I frequently passed by the UN and was always in awe.

No longer.

The passage of this latest, disgraceful United Nations resolution was abetted by our president. I've disagreed with some actions of every president in my lifetime, starting with Eisenhower, but never before have I been ashamed of an American president.

Alan Stein
Natick, Massachusetts and Netanya, Israel

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