Dr. Jürgen Bühler
Dr. Jürgen Bühlercourtesy

The routine maltreatment of Israel within the United Nations (UN) system was on full display again two weeks ago at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), when it passed several resolutions condemning the Jewish state for a variety of trumped up charges. Yet there are positive signs that key Western democracies are starting to rethink and challenge this deplorable UN fixation with demonizing Israel.

At its annual gathering in Geneva, the UN Human Rights Council once again badgered and vilified the Jewish state for acting to defend its citizens from constant threats of terror and violence. In its report on the year-long tensions along the Gaza border, the UN body falsely characterized the “Great March of Return” protests as “peaceful” and basically scrubbed the list of Palestinian victims of their terrorist ties. Meanwhile, Israel was denounced for daring to put up a defense – all in the name of a “proportionality” standard never truly required of any other nation.

Hamas was emboldened by the affirming message coming from Geneva, immediately stepping up its violent protests along the Gaza border fence and launching advanced rockets deeper into Israel.

It has become so easy for Hamas and the Palestinian Authority to manipulate UN forums to go along with their shared agenda, which aims to deny Israel of its right of self-defense and ultimately its right of existence. Israel may have the most advanced tanks and planes in the region, but they simply will not be allowed to use them.

Thankfully, there are some moral, sane countries now waking up to this twisted reality. The European Union nations currently sitting on the UNHRC (Austria, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Hungary, Italy, Slovakia, Spain and the United Kingdom) decided as a bloc not to support any resolutions submitted under Agenda Item 7, the Council’s annual session permanently dedicated to singling out Israel for abuse. Brazil and Japan joined them in this decision. This is a welcome sign that many Western democracies are no longer comfortable with the UN’s systemic flogging of Israel. They have come to realize that the UN keeps undermining the cause of peace and bringing discredit upon itself by repeatedly yielding to the relentless campaign to delegitimize Israel.

But this remains an uphill struggle. Even my native Germany, which often boasts about its historic obligation to defend the Jewish state, is refusing to exit the UN’s built-in, automatic majority against Israel. Earlier in March, the Bundestag overwhelmingly rejected a resolution offered by the Free Democratic Party to urge Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government to reverse its anti-Israel voting record at the UN. In 2018, for instance, Germany voted in favor of 16 of the 21 UN resolutions condemning Israel. Yet Merkel’s party joined the 2/3rds majority in parliament which chose to continue Germany’s inescapably anti-Semitic voting pattern in UN bodies.

The next big test in this battle appears to be shaping up over the UNHRC’s compiling and publication of a “database” clearly intended to serve as a blacklist of companies doing business in the Israeli settlements (Resolution 31/36, March 2016). This unprecedented action would mark the first time the UNHRC – which was formed to deal with human rights violations by sovereign nations – has sought to facilitate boycotts and economic sanctions against private companies.

By focusing only on the Israeli settlements while ignoring other clear cases where nations “profit” from illegal occupations (e.g., Turkey in northern Cyprus, Russia in Crimea, or Morocco in Western Sahara), the UNHRC also is violating its mandate to preserve on a universal basis human rights “for all people.”

Further, the UNHRC was originally prompted to develop this blacklist through the pressure of non-governmental organizations involved in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, whose real goal is the elimination of Israel. The HRC is being specifically exploited to advance this goal, because it could not be achieved through the UN Security Council.

In addition, the HRC has adopted a false narrative that Palestinians are suffering economically because of the Jewish settlements, when the exact opposite is true. Everyone knows that Israeli and foreign companies operating in the settlements in the West Bank offer good-paying jobs to their Palestinian employees, who generally earn four times the salary of the average Palestinian worker. They are the best examples of co-existence and tolerance one could hope for under current circumstances, and thus deserve international backing and investment, not strangulation.

In response, the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem has activated a number of our branches located in key nations which are members of the UNHRC to press their governments to halt this UN blacklisting effort. This includes Australia, Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Fiji, Hungary, Italy, Philippines, Slovakia, and Ukraine. We are hopeful these democratic, freedom-loving nations will band together to persuade the Human Rights Council to reverse course and abandon this latest spiteful and misguided anti-Israel initiative.

Dr. Jürgen Bühler serves as President of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem.