If you trust the major headlines, the big news out of the United Nations is that the UN General Assembly just voted overwhelmingly to reprimand the U.S. over President Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv. “U.N. Vote Rebukes U.S. for Jerusalem Move,” reports the Wall Street Journal. “Defying Trump, U.N. General Assembly Condemns U.S. Decree on Jerusalem,” reports the New York Times.
As bean-counting goes, that’s an accurate depiction of Thursday’s UN-as-usual vote, to which these headlines refer. But I’d say they’ve missed the real story. There’s nothing novel about the thug-heavy majority of the UN’s 193 member states ganging up on the U.S and Israel. The thunderbolt event here is the U.S. response, in which Ambassador Nikki Haley, with the clear backing of President Trump, delivered a brilliant and clarifying rebuke to the sententious bigots of the UN. Let’s start with some background on this showdown, which President Reagan’s formidable first ambassador to the UN, Jeane Kirkpatrick, would have recognized as the 21st-century spawn of the scene she described in a 1989 article in Commentary magazine, titled “How the PLO Was Legitimized” (“through international diplomacy — reinforced by murder,” wrote Kirkpatrick). In that article, Kirkpatrick detailed how Yasser Arafat and his terrorist Palestine Liberation Organization were peddling an ideology “that integrates the Arab nationalist struggle against Israel with the struggle against ‘colonialism,’ ‘imperialism,’ and ‘racism,’ and in this fashion extends and exacerbates the conflict by involving countries in it that are remote from the Middle East.”
As Kirkpatrick explained in her article, these various causes were anchored in voting blocs at the United Nations, such as the Non-Aligned Movement, thus eliminating “the need for individual governments to make their own decisions on issues” and delivering automatic UN majorities “against some targeted country or cause — such as Israel.” Such voting blocs still dominate the UN, wedded to a host of despotic fictions and outworn causes, but united to this day in their mob targeting of the U.S. and Israel. On their fringes hover various economically developed democracies — such as the major powers of Europe — eager to demonstrate their rarefied notions of virtue and independent thought by voting along with major blocs at the UN led in recent years by the likes of Iran, Sudan and Venezuela. So, when President Trump on Dec. 6 announced that the U.S. was recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and would be moving the U.S. embassy there, the UN mobilized en masse to slap this down. The first showdown came this past Monday at the 15-member Security Council, where Egypt introduced a draft resolution calling on all states to refrain from setting up diplomatic missions in Jerusalem. Fourteen Council members voted in favor, including permanent members China Russia, France, and the UK, along with rotating members such as Bolivia, Ukraine, Ethiopia and Senegal. Haley blocked them all by wielding the U.S. veto. That’s a big switch from the scene just a year ago, when President Obama’s ambassador, Samantha Power, abstained from a Security Council vote on a resolution savaging Israel, thus allowing it to pass.