A Problem From Hell, Indeed
This article is from the archive of The New York Sun before the launch of its new website in 2022. The Sun has neither altered nor updated such articles but will seek to correct any errors, mis-categorizations or other problems introduced during transfer.
The best way for President-elect Trump to view the Obama administration’s betrayal of Israel in the United Nations is as the starting bell for a campaign to defund the world body. This is already being signaled by Senator Lindsey Graham, who chairs the Appropriations Subcommittee on the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs. That gives him direct oversight of our U.N. budget. It puts him in perfect position to ally with Mr. Trump in charting a course away from a United Nations that has jumped its traces.
The resolution just passed by the Security Council, though ostensibly even handed, crosses a line that the Council has heretofore, and for good reason, shrunk from crossing. It seeks to expose Israel to legal action from an international boycott movement. President Obama, all too typically, seeks to blame Prime Minister Netanyahu, who has had the temerity to assert the right of Jews to settle in the biblical homelands of Judea and Samaria. The right policy would be to support such settlements, which are intrinsic to the Zionist ideal.
Instead, Mr. Obama has given us a study in perfidy. He had Secretary Kerry and Ambassador Power stand silent while the plot was being hatched. He allied with far-left factions on a policy that emboldened Israel’s foes to advance a measure could make Judea and Samaria Judenrein. Even Egypt, once it understood President-elect Trump’s position, was loath to present the measure to the Security Council. Ambassador Power claimed to be acting in the spirit of President Reagan, who never in a million years would have let such a resolution pass.
It’s not just Reagan who is being mocked. Ambassador Power sought to cloak her abstention in the mantle of Presidents George H.W. Bush, Clinton, and George W. Bush, though no such resolution passed — or even was permitted to come to a vote — during their presidencies. All of them would have vetoed such a resolution. The ambassador’s claims are part of the sneakiness, the dissembling with which she has conducted her diplomacy. She owed no special loyalty to the Jewish community, but made, nonetheless, promises that she has now broken.
The United Nations proceeded against a clear signal from the incoming administration and the Congress. The Security Council knows that the measure is a major departure from anything it has done before; it is worse than the measure the Obama administration vetoed in 2011. It will trigger within the United Nations court systems legal warfare that will bedevil Israel for years, exposing it to suits at, among other venues, The Hague. The UN itself has become — to use Ambassador Power’s phrase in a different context — the problem from Hell.
President-elect Trump gets all this. “The United Nations,” he told Aipac during his campaign, “is not a friend of democracy, it’s not a friend to freedom, it’s not a friend even to the United States of America where, as you know, it has its home. And it surely is not a friend to Israel.” The Security Council’s action today underlines the shrewdness of Mr. Trump’s plan to nominate, in David Friedman, an ambassador to Israel who understands the principle of Jewish settlement in the Biblical homeland. Mr. Trump himself this afternoon said things will be different come January 20.
What a tragedy all of this is for the world body that, almost 70 years ago, gave birth to the Jewish state. Israel today stands as the United Nations’ only enduring achievement. In any event, the time has come to deal with the problem of the United Nations itself. Mr. Trump can start this off by working with Mr. Graham and the bipartisan coalition he promises to curb funding for the UN. He can proceed with moving our Israel embassy to Jerusalem and enforcing American laws restricting funding of the Palestinian Arabs. In other words, he can address the problem from Hell in its own house.