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International Affairs


The 63rd U.N. General Assembly: Issues to Watch

Posted: September 18, 2008

Representatives from the world's nations will debate a spectrum of issues of importance to the international community as the 63rd U.N General Assembly gets underway. The Anti-Defamation League identifies some of the key issues on the agenda for the international organization in the year ahead, and issues a call to action on those issues.

 

The Iranian Threat

 

Iran is working to develop a nuclear weapon, flouting international sanctions and ignoring the international outcry concerning its nuclear program.  Iran is a rogue regime, the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism, and has one of the most egregious human rights records in the international community.  Nuclear weapons in the hands of the increasingly radical and reckless Iranian regime would lead to a dangerous geo-strategic shift in the Middle East, potentially leading to a nuclear arms race in the region.  Iran's nuclear weapons program bolsters its aggressive and destructive foreign policy and represents a direct and existential threat to Israel and a strategic threat to the United States and other countries.  The international community must work together to ensure that Iran does not obtain a nuclear weapon.  No options should be foreclosed to prevent Iran from achieving this goal.

 

  • The international community must back up its strong statements with concrete action to ensure that Iran does not develop a nuclear weapons capability.
  • Further action should be taken by the Security Council to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.
  • The international community must use incentives for cooperation and sanctions for non-cooperation, to convince Iran to abandon its nuclear program or to allow sufficient international supervision to verify its transformation into an exclusively civilian program.
  • The international community must continue its efforts to convince international businesses to avoid trade, investment and business development in industries of strategic importance to the Iranian regime. 

 

Israel-Palestinian Relations

 

The Israelis and Palestinians have been working toward peace negotiations and, despite current domestic political challenges, the government and people of Israel are committed to these bilateral negotiations.  However, Israel cannot be expected to make concessions that would undermine its security and national integrity, through unrealistic and insecure borders or the so-called "Right of Return."  While Israel has also made a commitment to support Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and to promote internal reform of the Palestinian Authority and democratic institution building to lay the groundwork for a viable Palestinian state, Hamas has not abandoned its campaign of terror in Gaza.  As a result of the refusal by Hamas to meet certain basic conditions -- recognizing Israel's right to exist, condemning the use of terrorism, and recognizing past agreements between the Palestinian Authority and the State of Israel -- the international community has isolated Hamas.  Until Hamas meets these basic standards, the terrorist organization should not be accepted by the international community.

 

  • The international community should continue its policy of isolating Hamas until the terrorist organization meets certain basic standards.
  • Israel should not be pressured into unreasonable concessions that would undermine its security.
  • In the context of a peace agreement, the international community should ensure that Palestinian refugees are resettled in a Palestinian state.  Any agreement should acknowledge the hundreds of thousands of Jews from Arab lands who were made refugees as a result of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

 

Israel's Kidnapped Soldier


Corporal Gilad Shalit, a 22-year-old Israeli soldier, w
as kidnapped on June 25, 2006 during a cross-border attack by Hamas, and is still being held by the group in the Gaza Strip.  Since that time there has been scant information as to his condition.  Hamas has refused to permit the International Red Cross to visit Cpl. Shalit in violation of international human rights standards.

 

  • The international community should demand and secure the immediate release of Israel's kidnapped soldier.

Durban Review Conference

 

In April 2009, the international community will gather for the Durban Review Conference (known as Durban II).  The 2001 World Conference Against Racism was discredited because the conference became a platform for anti-Jewish hatred and incitement.  As a result, Israel and Canada have chosen not to participate in Durban II.  Additionally, the U.S., France, Great Britain and the Netherlands have stated that they too will refuse to participate should the conference once again focus unduly on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Zionism, and become a forum for anti-Semitism.

 

  • The international community must remain steadfast in opposition to giving legitimacy to a gathering of nations where hatred of Jews and scorn for the national aspirations of the Jewish people are cloaked in the vernacular of human rights. 
  • The international community should reject the direct or indirect insertion of bias and hatred into the conference agenda.
  • Countries should condition their participation on whether the conference adheres to human rights standards and rejects anti-Semitism and hatred against any group under the guise of criticism of one country.

UNESCO


The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is set to appoint a new Secretary General and Egypt is actively lobbying UNESCO member nations to support its candidate, Egyptian Culture Minister Farouk Hosni.  Throughout his tenure, Mr. Hosni has consistently promoted policies that contravene the founding principles of UNESCO through his entrenched opposition to cultural exchanges with Israel and his hostility towards Israeli culture.  Contravening the terms of the Israel-Egypt peace accord which calls for cultural interaction, Mr. Hosni actively worked to prevent Israeli-Egyptian cultural exchanges, and has made repeated hostile and derogatory comments about Israeli culture.  It is clear the Mr. Hosni is an inappropriate choice to lead UNESCO and to promote its mission of cultural, educational and scientific diplomacy.

 

  • The member nations of the U.N. General Assembly, who vote for UNESCO's Secretary General, should be urged to review Mr. Hosni's record on intercultural exchanges and recognize that he is an inappropriate choice to lead UNESCO. 

Treatment of Israel

 

For decades Israel's treatment at the U.N. has been characterized by ostracism, double standards and knee-jerk condemnations.  More than twenty redundant and incendiary anti-Israel resolutions are passed blindly, year after year. Six of ten "emergency sessions" held by the U.N. General Assembly since its inception have concerned Israel – while none have been held in response to events in Rwanda, the former Yugoslavia, or Sudan.

 

There is a complete "Palestinian infrastructure" within the U.N. focused specifically on an anti-Israel agenda. No other country or entity has such exclusively dedicated departments and committees.  These committees not only waste stretched U.N. resources (their annual budget is $2.5 million), but propagate wildly biased programs and information about the Palestinian-Israel conflict that ignore positive progress in the region, and contradict the U.N. Secretary General and Security Council positions on Israel. 

 

While Israel was allowed to join a regional group in 2000 – the Western European and Others Group (WEOG) – thereby permitting Israel to participate in U.N. activities in New York (and for the first time served in the 60th session as a vice president of the General Assembly), Israel is excluded from serving on any regional group at the UN's Geneva-based operations, including serving as a member of the Human Rights Council, which has consistently targeted Israel.

 

  • The U.N. should reform and bring about real change in the manner in which Israel and Israeli-Palestinian issues are treated at the U.N.

Lebanon

 

On August 11, 2006, the Security Council unanimously approved Security Council Resolution 1701 which was aimed at ending the month long conflict between Israel and Hezbollah.  The resolution calls for the cessation of all Hezbollah attacks and Israeli offensive operations, while providing Israel the continued right of self defense, an increase of the U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), the withdrawal of Israeli troops to withdraw simultaneously with the arrival of the UNIFIL/Lebanese troops, and forbids armed Hezbollah members from entering southern Lebanon.  Yet, reports show that Hezbollah has increased its weapons cache, rearming itself by smuggling in arms from Syria.

  • The international community must ensure full implementation and enforcement of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701.

Anti-Semitism

 

Anti-Semitic violence and attitudes have surged around the globe. In France, Belgium, Great Britain, Canada and elsewhere, there have been scores of incidents where Jews and Jewish institutions have been violently attacked.  Incidents include the firebombing of synagogues and Jewish schools, the physical and verbal abuse of Jews in the street, and cemetery desecrations.

 

At the same time, anti-Semitic propaganda continues to thrive in the Muslim and Arab world, and is then disseminated throughout the world. Anti-Semitic stereotypes of Jews seeking world domination, controlling industry, government, and the media, as well as ancient anti-Jewish falsehoods such as the blood libel, are regularly featured in print and broadcast media, in television series and in popular fiction. These messages of hate are then transmitted everyday from the Middle East to homes throughout Europe, Africa, North and South America and Asia via satellite television and the Internet.

 

  • The international community should take seriously anti-Semitic manifestations within their own countries, and consider best practices to monitor and combat anti-Jewish hatred. 
  • There should be continued support for the distinct focus of the OSCE on combating anti-Semitism across the 56 member states.

Darfur

 

Tragically, despite the international community's recognition of genocide in Sudan, the violence is Darfur and the neighboring provinces continue.  The U.S. Jewish community, as other concerned people, is looking to the United Nations and the international community for firm leadership in stopping the genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan.

 

  • Governments must take a strong action to curtail the violence in Sudan.
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