Do not let the United Nations fool you. Although it may have essentially closed its doors in favor of online meetings in the age of coronavirus, its obsessive anti-Israel bias is alive and well. Through its numerous bodies, the UN falsely paints Israeli policy, not COVID-19 itself, as the primary threat to Palestinian health.
Take, for example, the infamous United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), which expressed anger at Israel for its efforts to quell the spread of the virus in East Jerusalem, which it says constrains free movement (currently experienced by practically every other civilized society on the planet). Unfortunately for UNRWA, the mukhtar (village chief) of the East Jerusalem village of Silwan, disagrees with their assessment, evident when he stated that the Arab sector desperately needs a lockdown to be enforced by the IDF Home Front Command.
While East Jerusalemites have complained about the government’s response to the virus in their neighborhoods (and their complaints may well be justified), Israel has by no means neglected the densely populated area. Writing on April 21st, Haaretz reported that an IDF Brigadier general was tapped to serve as an adviser to Mayor Moshe Leon for handling Coronavirus management, specifically in East Jerusalem. And according to OCHA, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Israel has established 10 Coronavirus testing facilities in East Jerusalem, and most local residents can be treated at other hospitals in the city.
Moving on to the next UN body.
Within the notoriously anti-Israel Human Rights Council, a group of independent experts accused Israel of discriminating against Palestinians when it released hundreds of Israeli prisoners as a protective step against an outbreak in the prison system, yet did not release Palestinian prisoners. These experts failed to mention that the released prisoners’ sentences were nearly completed, were not considered dangerous, or were not incarcerated for security-related offenses.
This is contrary to huge swaths of Palestinian prisoners, who are incarcerated for security offenses against Israel, sometimes even belonging to terrorist organizations like Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. The experts, among them notable anti-Israel academic Michael Lynk (who once claimed Hezbollah and Hamas are not “real” threats to Israel), besmirched the Jewish State for allegedly undermining efforts to ensure Palestinian testing. Clearly, the experts’ political preconceptions prevent them from seeing the genuine cooperation occurring between the two sides.
While it has not made any overtly hostile moves against Israel during the pandemic, it’s still worth mentioning the anti-Israel bias of the now widely scrutinized World Health Organization (WHO). For example, in its most recent report on Palestinian health care, “Right to Health”, published at the end of 2017, the WHO essentially blames Israel for the Palestinian health crisis. The UN body argues that Israel bears the “primary responsibility” for ensuring the health of Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem.
As noted by the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis (CAMERA), the report fails to mention that Israel completely withdrew from Gaza in 2005, that the Palestinian leadership routinely rejects vital medical supplies from Israel, and that they often choose to fund terror instead of build hospitals. Additionally, contrary to the WHO’s claim, Israel is not in fact responsible for the health, medical affairs and contagious disease response of the Palestinians, as stipulated in article 17 of the Oslo 2 Accords, which forms the basis of cooperation between Israel and the Palestinians until this day.
However, in a surprisingly positive string of statements, UN Secretary General António Guterres, UN special coordinator for the Middle East Nickolay Mladenov, and UN Development and Humanitarian Coordinator Jamie McGoldrick, all praised the Israeli-Palestinian cooperation. Since the onset of the pandemic, Israeli medical professionals have been training their Palestinian counterparts, and provided the Palestinians with aid, testing kits and medical supplies.
Furthermore, while highlighting the worrying increase in Coronavirus-related anti-Semitism, UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, Ahmed Shaheed, voiced his concern about the ludicrous conspiracy theories being promulgated that Israel and the Jews manufactured COVID-19 as a biological weapon to control the world. In his statement, Shaheed called on the world to reject these anti-Semitic libels.
It is abundantly clear that there is a disconnect among players in the UN. It seems that some members of the supra-national organization are actually capable (sometimes) of recognizing legitimate positive steps taken by Israel and the Palestinians. Others, however, merely fall victim to longstanding institutional or personal anti-Israel biases. The UN and its experts should be familiar enough with the matters at hand to understand that Israel has a vested interest in ensuring stability inside the Palestinian territories. They must ask themselves: what good would a widespread outbreak of COVID-19 and mass death in the Palestinian territories do for Israel, especially during one of the most turbulent, destabilizing global events in modern memory? The answer is nothing, and the UN would do well to internalize that.
[Featured Image: Via YouTube]
Eitan Fischberger is an Israeli student and veteran of the Israeli Air Force. His writing has appeared in The Jerusalem Post, Jewish News Syndicate (JNS), Legal Insurrection, The Daily Wire, Algemeiner Journal, and the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.DONATE
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