Op-Ed: The International Community: It is What It is
Steve Apfel, South AfricaThe writer is director of the School of Management Accounting, in Johannesburg and is the author of, 'Hadrian's Echo: The whys and wherefores of Israel's critics.' SBPRA 2012, and a contributor to a new book: "War by other means: Israel and its detractors." Israel Affairs, 2012
‘In two words we trust.’ If the Left-BDS-NGO-Arab axis had a backbone, it would be a bodiless power called the ‘International Community.’
That its proportions and makeup are ill-defined hardly matters, and even may help, considering that a notional body can pack a punch above its weight. With power and concept being what they are – inverted buddies – the less defined and real the concept, the more its power to manipulate the masses. Stalin’s Bolshevism and Hitler’s National Socialism were never cast in stone, for good reason: from day to day it was impossible to predict what new opinion or course of action they might inspire.
Likewise, the shifty, shadowy ideal called the International Community. Israel for the sin of having icky neighbours, finds itself up against an arbitrary arbiter of good and bad, one making all manner of demands on its leaders.
‘Halt settlement building!’ What is wrong with Jewish settlements?
‘They’re illegal.’ Who says they are? ‘It’s the consensus of the international community.
‘Make concessions to the Palestinians! Why – we’ve made them umpteen times, but the Palestinians still don’t recognize Israel, and lately trashed the Oslo Accords. ‘No matter; Israeli settlements are THE stumbling block to a two-state solution.’
Who said they are? ‘The International Community’ says so.
Who exactly is making these demands and judgment calls with authoritative voice and wisdom akin to God Almighty’s? Go to Europe, oh curious. Consider her ways and be wise.
“The framework that we operate in is the framework of international law,” said EU Ambassador, Andrew Standley. “International law is our bible.”
Then Hizbullah carried out a deadly attack on European soil, in Burgas, Bulgaria and the world waited to hear what Europe’s bible had to say. Nonetheless Hizbullah remains a charity, said the bible. Meaning that terrorism, like Andrew Standley, operates in ‘the framework of international law.’
Or take France. It went to war in Mali because, its president said, “we cannot have a terrorist state at the door of Europe.” Yet Paris, 6000 km away from Mali, looked askance on Israel, 1 km from Gaza, going to war to stop missile attacks on Israeli towns. The French called it aggression. A double-edged bible, to be sure!
But it’s naïve and even passé to protest. The international community is what it is: no more than a patchwork of allies and adversaries constantly looking after their own best interests.
And why not? In Europe, remember, Muslim populations are on the rise, so a pro-Palestinian platform makes perfect sense. It also fits snuggly with economic imperatives.
French President Hollande, leveraging the precarious Spanish economy, reputedly twisted Madrid’s arm to vote for the PLO’s upgrade at the UN. The Spanish, in turn, court favour with Arab countries, needing their votes for a seat on the Security Council.
Meanwhile the British, Danish and Dutch governments fund the Palestinian Authority's Ma'an news bureau, which talks of Jews as "the root of conflict in the world”; a “cursed people”; “outcasts in every corner of the earth." While the same, and other parts of Europe, being what they are, ply Israeli NGOs with free cash to poke prod pry Israeli crimes, real or manufactured, out of occupied soil.
We have also to accept the United Nations for what it is – many times a magnification of what Europe is. The UN’s latest moral twist was to vote Sudan into the vice-president’s seat of the 54-member Economic and Social Council. This, remember, is a U.N. organ that regulates human rights groups, oversees U.N. women rights bodies, and adopts resolutions on female genital mutilation. Noteworthy are two of the member states that lodged no objection: the U.S. and EU.
Then there is the UN Human Rights Council (formerly Commission). Taking its entire history, there have been seven inquiry missions on Israel’s acts in Gaza and the 'West Bank' (where, by the by, Israel has killed fewer Palestinians than the number of murder victims in peaceful South Africa). For the rest of the world combined, the UN Council sent five inquiry missions. Atrocities committed by Iran, China and Sri Lanka, for example, attracted not even one mission. For good reason: Israel is a paradise for UN teams while Iran, Syria, Gaza, etc are inquiry team hells.
Accept the UN for what it is. There were efforts once – weak and truncated efforts – to be even handed. Two motions at the Human Rights Commission were proposed; then withdrawn before they could be put to the vote. One involved suicide bombing as a crime against humanity, the other was the right of Israeli children to be spared suicide attacks. Horse-traders contrived to bury both proposals. The Arab bloc did not like their flavour and South Africa, with trade benefits on the table and an eye on the important Muslim vote back home, liked the flavour no better. The idea of human rights for children of Israel was quite unpallatable.
The international community is what it is, with South Africa in the thick of it. The policy of President Zuma’s government, looking to the polls in 2014, is to court the people of color-Muslim vote through anti-Israel measures. The Western Cape leader, Marius Fransman, announced the policy, and Trade Minister Rob Davies set the ball rolling with a labelling law that would single out the Jewish State.
And the United States, as part of the international community?
Everyone wants to figure out the Middle East priorities of Barak Obama’s new administration. Obviously he would want to build relationships with this bloc and that bloc, deal with Iran and its bomb, get cooperation from Arab and Israeli leaders. The juggling act won’t be easy.
And, diplomacy being what it is, nothing the ‘Israel lobby’ can do will stop Obama joining with international demands on Israel, and making the blended judgement calls.