Graffiti On History's Walls
Not all Arab politicians, happily, indulge in such cynical calculations. Back in February, I participated in a remarkable meeting convened by President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan. The group, which met in the city of Almaty, included the presidents from the central Asian republics of Kirgizstan and Tajikistan, the foreign ministers of Azerbaijan and Afghanistan, and the deputy foreign minister of Turkey. The meeting was titled the Conference on Order and Tolerance. As we exchanged views, I found myself listening raptly to statesmen who spoke with feeling of their support for a dialogue between Muslims and Jews in an atmosphere of religious tolerance and understanding while denouncing in explicit terms extremism and terrorism. If one takes the number of Muslims among the countries represented in Almaty and adds the number of Muslims in moderate countries like India, the result is a huge swath of the Muslim world that rejects the extremism of the Arab leadership among Israel's neighbors.
Such tolerance, sadly, is not to be found in the world body created to foster universal values and human ideals--the United Nations. Tragically, the growth of international hostility to Israel has found its most prominent expression in the operations of the U.N. It has, in fact, come a long way from the legitimization and legalization of the existence of Israel and the right of the Jewish people to have their own state on their own land through its 1947 resolution proposing and approving a two-state solution. Since then, the U.N. has adopted an almost reflexively anti-Israeli stance canted to the anti-Israeli majority of its membership. The U.N. today is a regular forum for vicious anti-Israel attacks, conferring on the spurious and the hateful the false cloak of reason and legitimacy, and thus has become an organization for the conservation, not the reduction, of the Middle East conflict. Some U.N. actions simply defy belief. At the World Conference Against Racism held in Durban, South Africa, Israel--the only democracy in the Middle East committed to civil rights, the rule of law, and Arab participation in democratic government--was attacked by Arab and Third World nations and accused of genocide, ethnic cleansing, and apartheid. Then there is the Fourth Geneva Convention, drafted originally in response to the atrocities of the Nazi regime, to protect people like diplomats and visitors subjected to a military occupation. Last year, U.N. conferees met and, for the first time in the 52 years since its adoption, excoriated one country--Israel--for alleged violations. Not Cambodia and Rwanda, with their well-documented records of genocide. Not Zimbabwe, with its racist economic policies. Not the Balkan states, with their ethnic cleansing. Not even China, with its dismal record on Tibet. Only Israel was singled out. Similarly, the U.N. Commission on Human Rights, chaired on occasions by such notably enlightened states as Libya, has followed this same pattern, devoting much of its time, energy, and efforts to attacking Israel. The commission went so far as to affirm, last April 15, the legitimacy of suicide bombing against Israelis, or in judgment-free U.N.-speak, "all available means, including armed struggle."