(December 30, 2016 / JNS)
While Secretary of State John Kerry was addressing the media Dec. 28 in Washington, D.C.—castigating Israel for criticizing the Obama administration’s refusal to veto the United Nations Security Council resolution against Israeli settlements—a different crowd took the streets of New York City to protest America’s inaction on the U.N. measure.
Organized by the New York-based Jewish Voice newspaper, the rally outside the U.S. Mission to the U.N. featured speaker after speaker deriding President Barack Obama and Kerry for the administration’s policy, while encouraging attendees to remain strong and to stand with the Jewish state.
“While Aleppo fell, while Arab children were facing attacks from the air with mustard and sarin gas, [the U.N.] was too busy condemning Israelis for growing pomegranates in [the Samaria community of] Shiloh. To ignore a genocide while you obsess with the Jews is an abomination,” said well-known author and TV host Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, noting that the Security Council had failed to pass a single resolution condemning the ongoing atrocities in Syria.
Boteach continued, “I once considered [U.S. Ambassador to the U.N.] Samantha [Power] a good friend…The tragedy of Samantha is that she did not pass a single resolution condemning the Syrian genocide. She was too busy to focus on the fall of Aleppo or the slaughter of Arab children because they were running…to pass a resolution attacking Israel. The United Nations assaulted decency itself…an assault on humanity, on peace and freedom.”
By abstaining rather than exercising the U.S. veto power in the Security Council, the Obama administration broke from a decades-long American policy of defending Israel against one-sided U.N. resolutions. Yet the 14-0 vote in favor of the measure did not take Israel completely by surprise. Hints of the outgoing administration’s intentions surfaced soon after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s September meetings with presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.
At the New York protest rally, pro-Israel activist Richard Allan called for an economic boycott of products produced by the nations that voted for the Security Council resolution. “There is a price to pay, a consequence for a vote against Israel,” he said.
“I believe it is hideous that the United Nations voted to take historic Israeli land away from the historic people of Israel,” said Christian radio host Mike McConnell. “To make the argument that the wall of prayer (the Western Wall) and the Temple Mount itself are no longer the property of the Jewish people is insane. I say that as a Christian.”
McConnell added, “It is impossible to accept with any degree of seriousness what President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry have said. We have not been a good friend of Israel over the last eight years and it’s time we stopped kicking them in the teeth at every opportunity.” He reminded the crowd that “there has never been an Arab state on Israeli land…There have been three Israeli states on that property. We must raise awareness…The idea of going back to the 1967 armistice lines is just bogus….It puts Israel at risk.”
Americans for a Safe Israel said in a statement, “The U.S. should end its funding of the United Nations, and better yet, relocate that bastion of infamy to another country, say, Syria or Angola. The U.S. action in the U.N. harms not just Israel, but the U.S. itself. There is bipartisan understanding in Congress that Obama’s action to abstain in the U.N. was a terrible decision, detrimental to the U.S.”
Maxine Dovere is a veteran journalist and a contributor to the Haym Salomon Center news and public policy group.