Commentary on Political Economy

Wednesday 25 October 2023


The Disgrace of the United Nations on Israel


Lest anyone miss his point: “The Palestinian people have been subjected to 56 years of suffocating occupation. They have seen their land steadily devoured by settlements and plagued by violence; their economy stifled; their people displaced and their homes demolished.”

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Although he allowed that these “grievances” don’t justify the “appalling attacks by Hamas,” he warned that “those appalling attacks cannot justify the collective punishment of the Palestinian people.” We quote Mr. Guterres at length in case readers assume someone in his position couldn’t really have delivered a speech of this sort. He did.

Mr. Guterres seems to know little about the institution he leads. A U.N. resolution passed in 1947 recommended the partition plan for Palestine that led to the creation of Israel the following year, as our friends at the New York Sun note in a sharp editorial.

Meanwhile, for decades the U.N., under the auspices of the U.N. Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) refugee agency exclusively for Palestinians, has discouraged permanent resettlement by refugees and runs schools that teach children Israeli territory belongs to them.

Far worse is Mr. Guterres’s parroting of what amounts to a modern-day blood libel that Israel is indiscriminately killing Palestinian civilians. The Israel Defense Force more than a week ago tried to warn Gazans to flee the likely path of an invasion; Hamas discouraged civilians from doing so and the U.N. criticized . . . Israel.

Civilians are dying because Hamas deliberately targeted Israelis and now uses Gazans as human shields, as Mr. Guterres had to acknowledge Tuesday. By calling for Israel to accept a cease-fire, Mr. Guterres wants to reward the terrorists’ civilian-killing strategy while denying a U.N.-approved state the same ability to defend itself that every other country enjoys.

This false equivalence elevates Mr. Guterres’s comments to the destructive from merely foolish. His message to the world’s rogues is that if you go on a killing spree, the U.N. will help justify your depredations. Will Mr. Guterres concoct some excuse if Beijing invades Taiwan—or Philippine territory? This is how the U.N. makes itself a fellow traveler in the advancing march of global disorder.

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