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Saturday, 24 December 2016

Israel Punched at the UN


That's the sound of being hit in the stomach when you were unaware the punch was coming. That's just how I feel. We've been betrayed by the country of our birth of which we remain citizens in good standing. We had just learned that President-elect Donald Trump had tweeted against the UN resolution that was to have been proposed by Egypt and had let President Obama know that he was against it...and Egypt had backed down and tabled the resolution, perhaps forever as it was said on the news here. 

And then, after Shabbat had already started in Israel (we still had the TV news running as we are not shomer Shabbat), with the Shabbat candles burning, we learned that four other countries--New Zealand, Venezuela, Malaysia and Senegal--reintroduced the resolution and the U.S. abstained, breaking all U.S. past policy toward Israel and breaking Obama's promises to allow a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian Arab conflict to come about through the two sides talking to each other across a negotiating table and not in any other entity. Ooof!

Some of us urged our rabbi emeritus to speak extemporaneously about the UN resolution from the bema at this morning's Shabbat service, which he did. No notes, no prep, just speaking from the heart. He is not only a rabbi and a Holocaust survivor, but a Ph.D., a former college professor, author, and an excellent speaker. During his talk while he was speaking about losing 32 members of his family in the Shoah and why, no matter what we like or find fault with in Israel, we must all stand together, an extreme left-leaning couple (we think the only such entity in our Masorti congregation) shouted out against him saying one had to speak out when one disagrees. 

Alan was on the bema waiting to lead the musaf service, so I was sitting alone and tears began to form and fall on my cheeks. I couldn't help it. The only other time I cried in synagogue was when a close friend of 46 years died suddenly in the U.S. and Alan dedicated his haftorah to her. First my country disappoints me, no slams me, and then in my congregation in Eretz Yisrael, a socially maladjusted couple shouts down the rabbi when he speaks about what the UN and all the world are doing to Israel and to the Jews. Some people just have no respect. I would have thought it rude to shout down anyone speaking from any podium, but a rabbi speaking from the bema??? The time to discuss your opposing views is after the service is over and privately. Or, ask for a spot at a future service or program to present your case. I am not against free speech and neither is Rabbi Birnbaum. I think most of the rest of the congregation was also in pain from what the UN and America has just done to Israel. They are saying that the Kotel, which is in the disputed part of Jerusalem, does not belong to Israel! The nerve! History (and archeology) disputes all that the UN is trying to pretend is true. 

The United Nations, an organization I was taught to revere as a child in school, is nothing more than a body of hateful anti-Semites who need a scapegoat for all that is wrong in this world and, once again so as to be consistent with history, they have chosen the Jews. But watch out world; it only starts with the Jews.

May you find inspiration in Chanukah, which starts tonight, or Christmas, which also starts tonight, and peace in the new year. And please, pray for Israel. Indeed, pray for our world.


From the JTA Dec. 23, 2016 (came after Shabbat here in Netanya):

JTA News Alert



UN passes anti-settlement resolution, US abstains


UN security council



The resolution, which called Israeli settlements “a flagrant violation of international law,” was adopted Friday afternoon with 14 votes in favor and one abstention. Read more »


Related Stories

Call for veto of UN anti-settlement resolution grows stronger

Trump calls for veto of UN anti-settlement resolution 

Press release from AIPAC:

AIPAC Statement on U.S. Abstention from UNSC Resolution Vote

AIPAC is deeply disturbed by the failure of the Obama Administration to exercise its veto to prevent a destructive, one-sided, anti-Israel resolution from being enacted by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). In the past, this administration and past administrations have rejected this type of biased resolution since it undermines prospects for peace. 
It is particularly regrettable, in his last month in office, that the president has taken an action at odds with the bipartisan consensus in Congress and America’s long history of standing with Israel at the United Nations. AIPAC expresses its appreciation to President-elect Trump and the many Democratic and Republican Members of Congress who urged a veto of this resolution.
By adopting this resolution, the United Nations has once again served as an open forum to isolate and delegitimize Israel—America’s lone stable, democratic ally in the Middle East. The Palestinian leadership has refused to return to talks with Israel and has continued to incite violence. Today’s destructive UNSC resolution only rewards this negative strategy and undermines efforts to truly pursue a lasting peace.
The best way to further the peace process with the goal of a two-state solution—which we support—would have been for the international community to do everything in its power to persuade the Palestinians to return to direct, bilateral negotiations without preconditions with Israel. Unfortunately, the UNSC today irresponsibly adopted a ruinous resolution that can only make the goal of peace even more elusive.


From the Daily TIP (The Israel Project) Dec. 24, 2016:


In a stunning move, the American delegation to the United Nations abstained from voting on a resolution at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) condemning Israel for settlement construction, allowing the measure to pass.

This is a reversal of U.S. policy, which has been for decades that peace between Israel and the Palestinians can only come through direct negotiations. In 2011, when a similar resolution condemning settlement construction came up for a vote at the UNSC, the U.S. vetoed it. Then-U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said, in justifying the “no” vote, “Unfortunately, this draft resolution risks hardening the positions of both sides. It could encourage the parties to stay out of negotiations and, if and when they did resume, to return to the Security Council whenever they reach an impasse.” She thought it “unwise for this council to attempt to resolve the core issues that divide Israelis and Palestinians." Israeli-Palestinian peace, President Barack Obama told the UN General Assembly later that year, would “not [come] through statements and resolutions at the U.N.”

The idea that peace can only come through direct negotiations between the two parties was enshrined in the Oslo process. In 1993, then-PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat wrote to then-Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin that “all outstanding issues relating to permanent status will be resolved through negotiations.” According to an interim agreement reached between Israel and the PLO in 1995, settlements were defined to be among these permanent status issues. Per this agreement, known as “Oslo II,” “[n]either side shall initiate or take any step that will change the status of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip pending the outcome of the permanent status negotiations.”

Democratic lawmakers in the United States blasted the resolution and the American abstention from voting on it. “It is extremely frustrating, disappointing and confounding that the Administration has failed to veto this resolution,” said incoming Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). “Whatever one’s views are on settlements, the U.N. is the wrong forum to settle these issues.” The ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), said on Friday that the resolution “does nothing to move forward the shared goal of two states living side-by-side in peace and security. This resolution is one-sided and unfairly calls out Israel without assigning any blame for the Palestinian role in the current impasse.” Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a Gaza-based terrorist organization backed by Iran, praised the resolution because “it will pave [the] way for isolating and boycotting Israel.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denounced the resolution: “Israel rejects this shameful anti-Israel resolution at the U.N. and will not abide by its terms,” he said. “At a time when the Security Council does nothing to stop the slaughter of half a million people in Syria, it disgracefully gangs up on the one true democracy in the Middle East, Israel, and calls the Western Wall ‘occupied territory.’”



The Obama administration’s decision to abstain from a United Nations Security Council vote on Israeli settlements on Friday was the subject of intense opposition from lawmakers in the president’s own party, with Democratic leaders warning that the resolution will damage efforts to advance peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

Incoming Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said hours before the vote that “the proposed resolution does not bring us any closer to the goal of a two-state solution. Peace must come from direct negotiations between the two parties.”

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) similarly condemned the resolution on Thursday, saying that the vote “seeks to place responsibility for continued conflict fully on Israel and ignores violence and incitement by Palestinians and the Palestinian Authority and Hamas leaderships. Any workable and long-lasting solution to this conflict must come about through direct, bilateral negotiations, and this resolution undermines that effort.”

Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, added on Thursday that “the UN should stop wasting its time trying to embarrass Israel, and the United States should continue the policy of vetoing anti-Israel resolutions.”

The ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), said on Friday that the resolution “does nothing to move forward the shared goal of two states living side-by-side in peace and security. This resolution is one-sided and unfairly calls out Israel without assigning any blame for the Palestinian role in the current impasse.” Cardin emphasized his support for “direct negotiations between the parties” and criticized the speed with which the resolution was pushed to a vote, saying that “by introducing the resolution yesterday and scheduling a vote this week, other members of the Security Council have not had sufficient time to consider the text.”

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) warned on Thursday that the “resolution would undermine, if not undo, the chances for productive discussions between the two sides,” remarks echoed the following day by Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), who also called the resolution “unconstructive.” Sen. Sherrod Browncalled  (D-Ohio) stressed on Friday that “any lasting peace must be negotiated between Israelis and Palestinians, not imposed by the international community.”

Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) noted that “longstanding U.S. policy has been to stand with Israel against attempts to use the United Nations to internationalize the peace process, and that policy should be maintained.”

“I am concerned that some delegations to the United Nations continue to advance counterproductive resolutions such as the one introduced this week, while they turn a blind eye to international crises that should demand our immediate attention and action, including the conflict in Syria and Russian aggression in Ukraine,” he added

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