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March 28, 2003 - Image 31

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-03-28

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Editorials are posted and archived on JN Online:

Dry Bones

The U.N.'s Chapter 11

") resident George W. Bush and his most-
hawkish advisers have been rightfully criti-
cized for a heavy-handed approach toward
traditional allies as they built the case for
the military action that had to be taken to topple
Saddam Hussein. The president could have exhibit-
ed greater skill in rounding up a much broader set
of allies for the operation. A more careful approach
to countries such as Russia, China and Germany
might have led to a very different coalition from
the one now fighting so valiantly in Iraq.
But the critics should also recognize that this war
represents an even greater failure by the leadership
of the United Nations, which again missed an
opportunity to prove it can effectively
resolve disputes among nations. Both the
Security Council and the General
Assembly chose paralysis rather than
accept the self-evident fact that U.N. resolutions
are meaningless if the body is not willing to
enforce them. By failing to act, the United Nations
gave aid and comfort to Hussein — in effect forc-
ing America and its allies to act.
One necessary outcome of the war in Iraq
should be a sustained effort by the United Nations
to emerge from its current ethical and practical
bankruptcy as a leaner, more focused agency that
stops pandering to the tin-pot tyrants who abuse
its processes.
Nowhere has its loss of credibility been more
apparent than in its dealings with Israel. Passage of
the notorious "Zionism is racism" resolution on
Nov. 10, 1975, was the most blatant example of its
moral blindness. But more recent examples abound,
including the failure to allow Israeli investigators the
use of a 2000 videotape of Hezbollah guerrillas kid-
napping Israeli soldiers, and including the 2001
Durban conference on racism that was allowed to
degenerate into an orgy of anti-Semitism.
The United Nations' penchant for shooting itself
in the foot was reinforced when the United States
was shut out from the governing body of the U.N.


human rights agency, which is now
chaired by Syria, a tyrannical govern-
ment that treats its own citizens with
cavalier disregard for any of their
In part, the U.N.'s problems can be
traced to the post-World War II
explosion of new nations as colonial-
ism faded. Because each can claim a
"seat at the United Nations, the origi-
nal one-country, one-vote structure of
the General Assembly is no longer
meaningful. That is equally true with
the Security Council where France,
for example, should have
long ago been stripped of its
permanent-member veto
Another part of the problem has
been the lack of a leadership with
strong moral commitment. Kofi
Annan has, like most of his predeces:
sors, seen the role of secretary general
as primarily a super diplomat, so care-
ful not to give offense to any nation
that he cannot point a clear course.
Thus, when France and to some
extent Germany take a hideously
wrong turn, there is no one to spank
them back into shape.
The United Nations still does fine
work in many areas, dealing with
humanitarian issues such as food and medicine
and, somewhat less effectively, with helping
nations learn how to deal with education and envi-
ronmental degradation. But it has failed repeatedly
to prevent violence against ethnic minorities, as in
the Balkans or Rwanda.
United Nations failures in the Mideast that come
to such violent fruition now in Iraq date back as
far as its unwillingness to enforce its own 1947
decision to divide Palestine after the British


resigned their mandate. It never could find the will
to confront the Arab nations, particularly Egypt,
when they mustered their troops to try to conquer
the Jewish state, and the Arab states have contin-
ued to take advantage of that one-sidedness.
It is going to take a sustained multinational
effort to rebuild Iraq as a modern Arab democracy
after Saddam is gone. It is also going to take that
kind of effort to restructure and rebuild the United
Nations as a force that actually might preserve
peace around the world. ❑

Step Up To The Challenge

orld Jewry is focused on Israel's struggle
to repel Palestinian terror and emerge a
stronger force in the Arab-dominated
Middle East. Since September 2000, ter-
rorists have murdered hundreds of Israeli
and foreign civilians, as well as many Israeli
soldiers, in their bid to lay claim to the
Jewish state.
But beyond the terrorism is a state embattled on a
number of social fronts. Drug trafficking, drunk driv-
ing, teen violence, spousal abuse, water woes, ecology
issues and hunger — these are just some of the press-
ing concerns confronting Israel, the ancestral home-
land of the Jewish people.
Consider also: Budget-strapped schools have cut


back class time and limited after-school activities. The
stream of tourists is riow a trickle. The once-booming
high-tech sector is reeling. Retail shops are closing,
jobless counts are rising and fear is ever-present, even
as Israelis bravely go about their daily busi-
Immigrants continue to be absorbed, but
how smoothly?
Meanwhile, Reform and Conservative Jews are
angling for a toehold in the Orthodox-controlled reli-
gious community.
A 22-year-old college graduate from West
Bloomfield — in the midst of 10 months of volun-
teering in Israel through Project Otzma — sets the
stage for this imposing backdrop in a letter to the


Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit. "To make
the situation even more confusing," Risa Lichtman
writes, "the problems are enhanced by the delicate
issue of religion and its hand in the government and
public affairs."
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has a mandate to rein
in the social unrest gripping the 54-year-old Jewish
state. But he's hamstrung by a reeling economy and
steeper defense costs.
So Detroit Jews who give to Federation's Grand
Challenge Israel Emergency Fund during March are
doing a mitzvah. Israelis hit by terror or hardship,
especially in our Partnership 2000 region in the
Central Galilee, benefit from the one-time, matched





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