The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) met once again on March 20 to debate "Agenda Item 7," a mandatory subject of debate since June 2006, the only one whose goal is systematically to condemn the Israeli democracy for crimes the existence of which remain to be proven.
The agenda, officially designed to assess the humanitarian situation in the Palestinian territories, in the light of the reports submitted by Fatah, the PLO and various NGOs, is part of a wider campaign, carried out by countries such as Libya, Algeria, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Sudan and Yemen. Israel is thus the only country on the planet to benefit from the doubtful privilege of being scrutinized on the least of its actions, through an agenda decided by its enemies.
If it were only a question of expressing this obsession, born out of an old habit for the Arab-Muslim dictatorships to turn the Hebrew state into their scapegoat, responsible for all the misfortunes plaguing their societies, Agenda Item 7 would be a mere oddity, especially since the session is regularly boycotted by a majority of Western countries, and systematically by the United States.
Unfortunately, this Israelphobia has been spreading throughout the United Nations. In 1948, when Israel, after being officially recognized as a sovereign state by virtually all Western democracies, had just repelled the genocidal aggression of five neighboring countries, and hundreds of thousands of Jews were fleeing the oppression of Arab dictatorships, the UN gave birth to UNRWA, an organization designed to help Palestinian refugees exclusively. This was despite there already being a program for refugees at the UN, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
The mandate of UNRWA was for one year. Seventy years later, the organization, now a lavish UN jobs program, continues to function within the Palestinian territories and neighboring countries, with an annual budget close to one billion dollars. Part of that covers salaries and pension funds for 25,000 to 27,000 employees (including many members of Hamas); schools in which the descendants of descendants of "refugees", in suburbs or villages called "camps", are inaccurately told that Tel Aviv and Haifa had belonged to them and should be returned to them, and where the myth of an impossible "right of return" continues to hold new generations of Palestinians hostage and inciting hatred of Israel and Jews.
As Said Aburish, one of Yasser Arafat's biographers and a former adviser to Saddam Hussein, told this author:
"In order to conserve UNRWA rations, Palestinians had become accustomed to bury their dead at night, so that no one died in the camps except when it was possible to accuse Israel of it. As a result, the refugee figures have always been distorted, with the passive complicity of UNRWA, as its annual budget depends on the number of souls for which they are responsible."
It is no secret that, in fewer than 70 years, the UN has condemned Israel more often than all the countries of the world combined, including those guilty of slavery, mass executions, genocide -- every human rights abuse imaginable -- to the extent that it has almost became a joke.
It is worth recalling that between 1981 and 1986, when Israel had set up a social program to rehabilitate Arab refugees based in Gaza, the only response from the UN, under pressure from Fatah Chairman Yasser Arafat, was to condemn the Hebrew State for its initiative, concluding each of its resolutions by this distressing order: "Return the refugees to the camps".
There is also no need to go back to 1975, to remember the infamous UN Resolution 3379, "Zionism is a form of Racism," under the Secretary-Generalship of a former Nazi, Kurt Waldheim, a week after Uganda's brutal Idi Amin received a triumphant reception at the UN headquarters.
Under Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim, a former Nazi, the United Nations in 1975 passed the infamous Resolution 3379, "Zionism is a form of Racism". (Photo by Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
It is enough, however, to refer to the General Assembly of December 21, 2016 to find that Israel, once again, was condemned 20 times while all the tragic events on the planet, massacres in Syria, the North Korean threats, the Crimean crisis and the ill-treatment of women and minorities in both Iran and Saudi Arabia were penalized almost reluctantly by a tiny half dozen resolutions.
The list of the injustices done to the Jewish state by an organization supposed to preserve peace in the world, which De Gaulle scornfully called "le machin", "the thingy," is so long that it would take several volumes of an encyclopedia to expose them.
None, however, has made as much noise or provoked as much rejection on the international scene as that enacted by UNESCO on October 26, 2016, followed by a similar text on April 29, 2017, the very day Israel was celebrating its 69th year of independence.
Submitted by Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Qatar and Sudan, this text, ratified by the automatic Arab majority, and benefiting from the abstention of almost all the European countries, including France, offered a new and surprising rewriting of history by denying any connection between Judaism and Jerusalem's Temple Mount, including the Western Wall, described in each paragraph by only their Arab names, the Haram Al Sharif and the Al Buraq wall. The counter-factualness of this resolution, led the new Secretary-General of the UN, Antonio Guterres, to contradict it, by a declaration that the Palestinian Authority withdraw it, together with issuing an apology.
Although it may seem outrageous systematically to target the Hebrew state, the UN framework enables it. First, there is the composition of preponderance of anti-democratic members of the United Nations, as well as the challenges posed by the terrorist hammer and the oil anvil.
On the other hand, why should UNESCO, whose prescribed function is precisely the preservation of history and the preservation of peace, participate in a farce whose conclusion, strictly speaking, would be that Jesus chased the merchants of the "Esplanade of the mosques" six centuries before the birth of Islam?
As for the religious context, Jerusalem -- especially the Old City and the Temple Mount -- are sacred places for the three monotheisms. When they were in the possession of Jordan, which had illegally seized them in 1948 until the Israelis liberated them in 1967, all the Jews were driven from the Jordanian-controlled part of the city; their property and belongings taken, and their holy sites desecrated.
In the dissenting opinion of Dr. Yussuf Natshe, in charge of the Waqf, the Muslim organization in charge of the Muslim holy places in Jerusalem, and Sheikh Omar Awadallah Kiswani, director of the Al Aqsa mosque, these places are not to be shared: "They have belonged to Islam from all eternity, as God and UNESCO have wished." (Remarks collected by the author).
The goal of the Palestinians, supported by the Muslim world, would be to give the name of the Al Aqsa mosque to the whole Haram Al Sharif (Temple Mount) so that access to it would definitely be forbidden for any non-Muslims, as are Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia.
In this case, why did France become an accomplice, by abstaining on the votes of October 26, 2016, and followed by a similar text on April 29, 2017.
It was part of a broader program. The American president at the time, Barack Hussein Obama, had recalibrated the US stance in favor of the Muslim Brotherhood and Iran. At the heart of Obama's credo, the famous Israeli "settlements" seemed to symbolize only absolute evil, while international terrorism, including Palestinian terror, could, under no circumstances, possibly emanate from the excesses of a religion described as one of love and peace.
This position, rational or not, may also have been considered by many a way of gradually disengaging the United States from a moribund peace process after its umpteenth failure in 2014, under the leadership of US Secretary of State John Kerry.
French President François Hollande's government may well have thought that the vote was a great opportunity to put France back on the front line of international diplomacy by plunging daggers into the knot of the Israeli-Arab conflict. Hence the plan for an international conference convened in Paris (but from which the main stakeholders, Israel and the Palestinians, would be excluded. (One has to wonder what the French would have said if other countries had gathered, without including the French, to discuss the future of Paris.)
Arab policy, as instituted by De Gaulle in 1967 and followed by successive French governments, was not a matter of leaving the Jewish state alive, albeit officially still called Israel. In terms of security, France had to support its conference by appealing to the countries on which it imagined its energy supply depended, disregarding the small fact that the Arabs had to sell the oil rather than drink it.
The new US administration of President Donald J. Trump, however, with US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, rebalanced the American position again, and, by extension, those taken by Europe and France, in a conflict which has for too long been suffering from double standards such as those mentioned above.
Why, indeed, would the Palestinians make the slightest concession, if it were enough for the international community to hand them a state, cost-free, on a platter?
In the opinion of Bassem Eid, a Palestinian human rights activist and political analyst:
"The Palestinian Authority is like an opposition party. It is enough for it to criticize and accuse Israel, it has nothing else to do or to prove, to receive all the support and all the money it needs. And while France and Europe offer medals to Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian people continue to suffer under its dictatorship. "
Unfortunately, on April 29, at the UNESCO, France abstained again.
It is now time for France and the European Union to recognize that if they want to keep the glimmer of credibility they still have as participants to any peace process, they should cease demonizing Israel at the same time as they accept all demands, including the use of terrorism, threats of terrorism and payments for terrorism from Mahmoud Abbas's Palestinian Authority -- all delivered with the approval of an organization, the UN, which Palestinians have long ago swallowed up.
It is high time that such a toxic organization was defunded. Agencies deemed helpful, such as the World Health Organization, can be funded separately.
Pierre Rehov is a war reporter, documentary filmmaker and novelist. His latest film "Unveiling Jerusalem" directed for the Israel's Channel One television, will soon be available in English-speaking countries.