(April 24, 2018 / Embassy of Israel in Washington, D.C.) A recent article by historian Peter Collier about Jeane Kirkpatrick was titled, “When Israel Had a Champion at the U.N.,” aptly describing Ronald Reagan’s first U.N. ambassador and the first American woman to serve in that post. The former Georgetown University professor was among the most unwavering friends Israel ever had on First Avenue.
Born in Oklahoma and raised in Southern Illinois, Kirkpatrick had a firm faith in American principles. Her article “Dictatorship and Double Standards” in Commentary caught the attention of Ronald Reagan, who later asked her to serve as U.N. Ambassador. Fortunately for both America and Israel, she agreed.
Among her first meetings at the United States Mission to the United Nations was with Israeli Ambassador Yehuda Blum. Appalled by the condescension with which the Holocaust survivor was treated by her subordinates, Kirkpatrick ordered her aides out of the room, promising Blum that “it will be different now. No one will be treated better in this mission than Israel.”
Kirkpatrick kept her promise. Time and again, she defended the Jewish state, never hesitating to condemn what she called “the obsessive vilification of Israel” at the United Nations.
She forcefully upheld Israel’s right to defend itself, and she stood up to discrimination against the Jewish state. In 1981, when Libya tried to bar an Israeli delegate from attending the International Conference on African Refugees, Kirkpatrick warned that if the Israeli was kept out, then the United States would withdraw its funding of $285 million. (Not surprisingly, the conference then admitted the Israeli representative.)
Kirkpatrick once observed that U.N. diplomacy regarding Israel and the Arab states “has nothing to do with peace, but is quite simply a continuation of war against Israel by other means.”
After her passing, political leaders on both sides of the partisan divide praised her unrelenting commitment to morality. For America and Israel, Jean Kirkpatrick was an Iron Lady of truth and moral clarity at the United Nations.