Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Shame on my country for UN vote on Israel

I am opposed to many of the policies of the current and previous New Zealand governments, but I temper that opposition with the knowledge that here in New Zealand we have a reasonable compromise between the lust for power of statists on the left and right of the political spectrum and my philosophical belief in limited government whose sole function is to uphold individual rights. Hence I do not often write on political issues in my own country. However, there is one thing the New Zealand Government did in the last days of 2016 that utterly disgusts me and to which I must voice my opposition in the strongest terms - its sponsorship of a UN Security Council resolution condemning the state of Israel for its continued occupation of the so-called Palestinian territories.

I have written before about my views on Israel and to re-iterate, I support Israel's right to exist, not because I am a Zionist - as an atheist, I do not buy into the Zionist belief in a God-given right of the Jewish people to the land of Israel - but because Israel is a relatively free, rights-respecting, democratic nation whose people have the right to self-determination just like any other people on Earth. Israel is without doubt the most liberal and tolerant country in the Middle East, not just for Jews but also for Israeli Arabs who make up about 25% of the population, and for women, gays, Christians and other minorities.

It may surprise most readers to learn that Israel has always supported the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside its own territory. Even Benjamin Netanyahu, portrayed by the Obama administration and in the Western media as an intractable opponent of Palestinian self-determination, has repeatedly stated his support for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Israel does not want Palestinian territory for itself but wants to live in peace with its neighbours; however, it is not going to concede the territory it occupied during the1967 Six-Day War unless it is assured that it will not be used to launch attacks on its civilian population. Given that the Hamas regime in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and Hezbollah in southern Lebanon (all territories Israel previously has occupied but handed back) have continued to launch attacks on Israeli civilian targets, it is hardly surprising that Israel refuses to give up further occupied territory. There are certainly some extremists in Israel that want to expand the boundaries of the Jewish state but the overwhelming political consensus is for a two-state solution along the lines of the original partition agreed by the United Nations in 1947.

The United Nations has become so biased and hypocritical in its resolutions against Israel that its outgoing secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, felt moved to comment on this before he left office in December, saying, "Decades of political maneuvering have created a disproportionate number of resolutions, reports and committees against Israel." The Israeli ambassador to the UN, commenting on Ban Ki-moon's statement, pointed out that the organisation has passed 223 resolutions condemning Israel but only eight against the Syrian regime, which has massacred hundreds of thousands of its own citizens over the past six years. How many times has the UN voted to condemn the genocidal Sudanese regime? Zero. What about Saudi Arabia, which treats the female half of its population as virtual slaves and executes anyone who renounces its extremist state religion? Zero - in fact the UN has just co-opted Saudi Arabia to its human rights council! This is the disgusting political farce in which New Zealand has chosen to play a key role with its sponsorship of the UN vote.

I am ashamed that New Zealand, one of the first countries to recognise the state of Israel and one of those that voted to admit it to the United Nations in 1949, has cast its lot with those who choose to single out Israel and turn it into an international pariah, a status it most certainly does not deserve, while ignoring the appalling crimes against humanity of many of its neighbours.

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