Ashrawi deplores the one-woman crusade against Palestine at the UN


Historically, US officials, even the most ardent apologists for Israel, made an attempt to mask their bias with a semblance of diplomatic language and balance, however flimsy. Now there seems to be a departure from that practice, evident in the one-woman crusade the US representative to the UN is launching against Palestine and the Palestinian people individually and collectively.

Through an obsessive and targeted campaign of intimidation and threats, Miss Haley’s crusade does not miss an opportunity to put pressure on anyone that seeks to challenge Israeli impunity and persistent disregard for the imperative of civilized behavior. Her tone, language and approach echo those of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, Israeli UN Ambassador Danny Danon and the priorities of Sheldon Adelson and his ilk, rather than official US policy.

This crusade has targeted the international organization itself, as well as individuals and institutions that seek to hold Israel accountable for its violations of human rights and international law. She questioned the credibility of the UN Human Rights Council because of alleged “chronic anti-Israel bias” and made threats to abandon it; the threat of defunding the UN by the US representative has become overly familiar in the halls of the UN and its associated agencies. Holding global institutions that have a mandate to serve and promote our shared humanity hostage with ultimata of holding back financial contributions is the most cynical form of politics and blatant extortion.

All too familiar also is Miss Haley’s mantra: “nowhere has the UN’s failure been more consistent and more outrageous than its bias against our close ally, Israel.” Instead of launching a diatribe against the UN for carrying out its mandate to uphold human rights and protect vulnerable populations, the US would do better to hold Israel accountable for its violations of international humanitarian law and for the injustice of the Israeli occupation as a whole.

In March 2017, having succumbed to American and Israeli pressure, the Secretary General decided to withdraw a report written by two scholars, Richard Falk and Virginia Tilley, detailing the realities of Israel’s brutal occupation and its Apartheid practices. Rather than accept such censorship, Rima Khalaf, Executive Secretary of ESCWA, submitted her resignation in protest at the intimidation by the US and the Secretary General’s suppression of the truth. However, the response from Miss Haley was “when someone issues a false and defamatory report in the name of the UN, it is appropriate that the person resign.”

Her most recent attack only days ago includes sending a letter to the UN Secretary General and the Director General of UNESCO asking the organization to withhold designation of religious sites in Hebron as Palestinian World Heritage Sites In Danger. The letter is consistent with her policy of ‘distract and deflect’, where she states “many precious sites – from the Democratic Republic of the Congo to Libya to Iraq to Syria – are under real and imminent threat of destruction today. They urgently demand UNESCO’s full and immediate attention, which should not be wasted on this sort of symbolic action.” This approach has been a consistent means of evasion to exclude and suppress any consideration of Palestinian grievances at the UN. By creating diversions and focusing on other issues, Miss Haley seems to believe that the UN should give Israel a free pass based on the logical fallacy that one injustice negates another.

The cynical and unprofessional veto exercised against the appointment of the former Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad to a senior position at the UN simply for being Palestinian demonstrates an inherent prejudice that Palestinians are guilty a priori by reason of national identity. Miss Haley unapologetically justified the veto by claiming that such an appointment would be to “the detriment of our allies in Israel.” During a hearing at the US Congress in June 2017, she boasted that Palestinian bashing and blind support for Israeli impunity as being among her greatest achievements at the UN so far. On stopping the appointment of Salam Fayyad she said, “if we don’t recognize Palestine as a state, we needed to acknowledge also that we could not sit there and put a Palestinian forward until the US changed its determination.” The US is thereby compounding the injury by not only denying Palestinians the right to self-determination and sovereignty, but also ironically by punishing them further for not being a state. The fact that an entire people are being excluded by assigning them guilt at birth is beneath contempt and should have no place in an institution that was created to represent the universal principles of tolerance and equality.

In the same vein, while the Trump Administration is declaring its intention to pursue the “ultimate deal,” its representative at the UN seems to be setting her own policy and pursuing her own agenda consistent with her anti-Palestinian obsession and as an apologist for Israel. She claimed, “Obviously, I believe that the capital [of Israel] should be Jerusalem and the embassy should be moved to Jerusalem.” Going beyond the position of any US Administration, such a statement betrays total ignorance of the universally recognized legal status of Jerusalem and attests to a lack of understanding of the most basic requirements of peace.

While personal political ambition might be a legitimate goal, the abuse of position and the distortion of justice are never justified. In this case, compounding the victimization of the Palestinian people and browbeating the institutions that are meant to defend their rights are in themselves a violation of global norms and values.We are a people seeking freedom, peace and justice; any attempt to deny the aspirations and negate the rights of an entire nation living in captivity and under occupation is ethically and morally repugnant.”

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