Benjamin Studebaker

Yet Another Attempt to Make the World a Better Place by Writing Things

Tag: UN

John Kerry and the UN are Right about Israeli Settlements

The UN Security Council has passed Resolution 2334 by a vote of 14 to zero, with the United States choosing to abstain rather than exercise its veto. The resolution condemns Israel’s construction of settlements within the occupied Palestinian territories. The language is uncharacteristically blunt:

the establishment by Israel of settlements in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-State solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace

The 14 member states who voted in favor of the resolution include the remaining permanent members (Britain, France, Russia, and China) and all of the current non-permanent members (Angola, Egypt, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Senegal, Spain, Ukraine, Uruguay, and Venezuela). Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claims the resolution is “skewed against Israel” and Donald Trump agreed, tweeting:

But both Trump and Netanyahu are mistaken–not only is Resolution 2334 not skewed against Israel, it is in Israel’s interest to abide by the resolution and abandon its settlements. Here’s why.

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Netanyahu’s Reelection is a Disaster for Israel

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has scored a stunning victory in his battle for reelection, defeating a center-left coalition which just days prior looked to have the upper hand. Netanyahu achieved this by pulling sharply to the right, saying several remarkably destructive things that he cannot simply take back. By re-electing Netanyahu in the full light of the things Netanyahu has said in the last week, Israel has indicated to the world that its population largely stands behind the things Netanyahu has said. This will cause irreparable damage to Israel’s international standing and to the US-Israel alliance, all of which can only serve to undermine Israel’s long-term strategic interests.

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“Never Again” and North Korea

Last week, the UN’s Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea released a harrowing report that claims that North Korea is a historically bad place in which to live. North Korea’s badness is “unparalleled in the contemporary world”, and the chairman of the UN committee, Michael Kirby, even went so far as to bring the Nazis into it:

At the end of the Second World War so many people said, ‘If only we had known, if only we had known the wrongs that were done in the countries of the hostile forces’…there will be no excusing the failure of action because we didn’t know–we do know.

The implication of his claim is that the world’s people are all complicit participants in the awful things that happen in North Korea because we allow those things to happen and do not take sufficient action to stop them. This claim, which I call the “Never Again” claim, is widely made whenever any great man-made violent tragedy occurs in the world. I’d like to challenge it.

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Saudi Arabia’s UN Boycott

The UN Security Council includes a group of permanent members (USA, Russia, China, UK, France) and a group of rotating temporary members from the world’s various regions, each of which serves a two year term. Only the permanent members possess veto power over Security Council resolutions, but being a temporary member gives a member state a vote and a platform. This is why it is so very odd that Saudi Arabia, which has just now been offered a temporary seat on the Security Council, has chosen to reject that seat as a form of protest. What do the Saudis hope to achieve by refusing to take their seat, and are they likely to be successful? Even more broadly, how is the UN perceived differently in countries that do not have permanent membership on the Security Council?

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Erdogan and Zionism

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan recently said this in a UN address against racism and discrimination:

In addition to indifference vis-à-vis the Muslim countries, we also see harsh, offending, insulting behavior towards Muslims who live in countries other than their own, and this continues to be an unconscionable act that has been ongoing around the world.

We should be striving to better understand the beliefs of others but instead we see that people act based on prejudice and exclude others and despise them. And that is why it is necessary that we must consider — just like Zionism or anti-Semitism or fascism — Islamophobia as a crime against humanity.

This has managed to infuriate, among others, US Secretary of State John Kerry, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon. So the question of the day is whether Erdogan is correct in characterising Zionism as politically similar to anti-Semitism, fascism, and Islamophobia, or whether, in falsely equating Zionism to these other things, he is himself guilty of anti-Semitism as his critics suggest. Let’s have a look.

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