Another Opinion

Yesterday I ran a short piece by a Jewish friend of mine about the war in Israel, the Lebanon, and Gaza, and invited people to chime in with their opinions as well. Book critic John Freeman wrote in with this short note about the place of the United Nations, in all this madness:

The U.N. has taken a bit of a beating in books recently, from Eric Shawn’s The U.N. Exposed, to Paul Kennedy’s recent book, The Parliament of Man, which maintains the thinnest shred of optimism about the organization’s future.

Somehow all these criticisms seem pointless during war time, when it would seem the U.N. has become a target. A day after Jan Egeland, the U.N.’s emergency relief coordinator, suggested the offensive in Lebanon was in clear violation of international law, Israelis fired on a U.N. observer post 21 times, ultimately killing four unarmed peacekeepers. When their colleagues came to dig out their bodies — they were fired on, too.

What’s appalling is the U.N. made repeated calls to the Israeli Defense Force to protest the shelling. The IDF’s impunity surely has something to do with how often the U.S. vetoes resolutions critical of Israel on the Security Council. (Including one just two weeks ago). Not to mention the fact that Israel has ignored countless U.N. resolutions against its behavior.

So the bullying — is that even the word when people are dead? — continues. And what hasn’t been mentioned in U.S. papers is that this happened before — and on a much larger scale. In 1996, Israel shelled U.N. headquarters in Beirut, killing 102 civilians who had taken refuge there. NBCC finalist Robert Fisk was there and reported it, and his dispatch is still available online and is notable for how easily it could describe what’s happening today.

I don’t have much to add to this, except to say that the top three violators of U.N. security council resolutions are, in order: Israel (30 resolutions on Palestine and the Occupied Territories), Turkey (20 resolutions on Cyprus), and Morocco (15 resolutions on Western Sahara). And all three are allies of the U.S. and in no danger of being asked to abide by these resolutions. Which is why it’s so comical to hear Condi Rice asking, nay, demanding, that the Lebanese apply resolution 1559.

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