Why Ending the UN’s Diplomatic War on Israel Matters

In October of last year, the American lawyer and diplomat Richard Schifter died at the age of ninety-seven. Schifter, in his two decades of public service, devoted himself to using U.S. influence to stand up for human rights everywhere from Africa to China to Eastern Europe, and played a role in helping to get refuseniks out of the Soviet Union. But above all he was devoted to changing the UN’s perverse attitudes toward the Jewish state, as Robert Doar writes:

The United Nations General Assembly is still passing annual resolutions to renew the mandates of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People and the Division for Palestinian Rights. Among other biased and anti-Israel agenda items, these entities endorse the so-called “right of return” which has long hampered negotiation and ossified opposition on both sides of the conflict.

As chairman of the American Jewish International Relations Institute, Schifter dedicated the last years of his life to fighting these resolutions. And he was making headway. Within the last decade, support for the UN’s Division for Palestinian Rights has diminished considerably. In 2011, the resolution was approved by a 114-9 vote. Last year, it was carried by a tally of just 82-25 with 53 abstentions and 32 absences (deliberate ones mostly). Though these measures still pass, they do so with mere pluralities instead of overwhelming majorities. This is considerable progress.

Schifter believed that these symbolic resolutions are impediments to peace. And if the last few months have taught us anything about the Middle East, it’s that progress is possible.

This moment calls for the Biden administration to take an important next step. . . . It’s time for the State Department to make it a priority for the UN to reject these resolutions and encourage our allies to help us make that happen.

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Read more at Commentary

More about: Human Rights, Palestinian refugees, Soviet Jewry, U.S. Foreign policy, United Nations

 

Reforms to Israel’s Judiciary Must Be Carefully Calibrated

The central topic of debate in Israel now is the new coalition government’s proposed reforms of the nation’s judiciary and unwritten constitution. Peter Berkowitz agrees that reform is necessary, but that “the proper scope and pace of reform, however, are open to debate and must be carefully calibrated.”

In particular, Berkowitz argues,

to preserve political cohesiveness, substantial changes to the structure of the Israeli regime must earn support that extends beyond these partisan divisions.

In a deft analysis of the conservative spirit in Israel, bestselling author Micah Goodman warns in the Hebrew language newspaper Makor Rishon that unintended consequences flowing from the constitutional counterrevolution are likely to intensify political instability. When a center-left coalition returns to power, Goodman points out, it may well repeal through a simple majority vote the major changes Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition seeks to enact. Or it may use the legislature’s expanded powers, say, to ram through laws that impair the religious liberty of the ultra-Orthodox. Either way, in a torn nation, constitutional counterrevolution amplifies division.

Conservatives make a compelling case that balance must be restored to the separation of powers in Israel. A prudent concern for the need to harmonize Israel’s free, democratic, and Jewish character counsels deliberation in the pursuit of necessary constitutional reform.

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Read more at RealClearPolitics

More about: Israel & Zionism, Israeli Judicial Reform