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A Nation that Dwells Alone: The UN-ique Lock-Out of Israel from the UN

By Hannah Newman. From: Jerusalem Searchlight August 2000.

In the summer of 1998, a small plea for signatures was posted on the Virtual Jerusalem website, from the American Jewish Committee:
"Believe it or not, Israel is the only one of the 185 member countries ineligible to serve on the United Nations Security Council, the key deliberative group of the world body. Even Iraq is eligible. So is Iran. And so, too, are Cuba, Libya, North Korea, Sudan and Syria. Why is it that these seven nations, all cited by the U.S. State Department as sponsors of terrorism, are eligible to serve rotation terms on the Security Council, yet Israel, a democratic nation and member of the UN since 1949, is not?
"To be eligible for election, a country must belong to a regional group. Every UN member state - from the smallest to the largest - is included in one of the five regional groups. By geography, Israel should be part of the Asian bloc, but such countries as Iraq and Saudi Arabia have prevented its entry for decades. As a temporary measure, Israel has sought acceptance in the West European and Others Groups (WEOG), which includes not only the democracies of Western Europe but also Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Turkey and the United States. Here, too, despite the support of several countries, including the U.S., Israel still has not been admitted.
"Thus without membership in a regional group, Israel can never be elected to serve a term on the Security Council or, for that matter, to the other most important bodies of the UN system, such as the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), the World Court, UNICEF and the Commission on Human Rights.
"The United Nations Charter proclaims, 'the equal rights... of nations large and small.' But only Israel, among all the UN members, is denied the right to belong to any regional group.
[copyright Virtual Communities Inc, 1996-1998. All rights reserved.]"

What Does This Mean for Israel as a UN Member?
The UN's discriminatory behavior against Israel is nothing new. However, the Jewish and Israeli public are largely unaware of this unique ostracism which that country has endured for its entire membership in the UN.

On the other hand, how bad could this exclusion really be, if our ambassadors and other UN reps have put up with it for so long, and have still managed (after a fashion) to make our voice heard in that globally minded forum? No big deal... the AJC just got excited over their discovery of a mundane technicality which has little bearing on the weighty matters of international relationships.

Don't believe it for a minute. The AJC didn't tell half the story.

The Regional Groups: Working Cells of the UN

The five Regional Groups are the member-pool from which are chosen all voting members of ALL United Nations commissions, councils and other decision-making committees. In other words, Israel -- and only Israel -- is prohibited from every single meaningful contribution of which a UN member is capable. In terms of past, present and future impact on the world community through its prime agency, Israel does not exist.

In practical terms, this not only means being locked out from decision-making. As individual Israelis involved in UN affairs report, it means being overlooked in even receiving information from the many committees and working groups. For example, in preparing the Agenda for UN Reform, Secretary General Kofi Annan met with the Five Regional Groups, informing them of his plans and accepting feedback - an opportunity which completely bypassed Israel. Likewise, UN-sponsored conferences, which organize working meetings by Regional Group, ignore Israeli delegates when distributing updates. Even "observer" groups such as the Palestinian Authority, while unable to participate fully, do not suffer from this systematic information black-out.

Before exploring how and why this happened, we first need to appreciate what it means to be the only UN member state so handicapped. The point is driven home by focusing on the first group mentioned by the AJC as off-limits to Israel: the ECOSOC, or Economic and Social Council.

Who Cares About "ECOSOC"?

Despite the boring name, there are impressive spheres of influence under the control of this Council which demonstrate the seriousness of Israel's isolation.

(1) Membership in the ECOSOC currently numbers 55 seats. Council members work closely with the Secretary General, who has referred to them as second in importance only to the Security Council. UN reform proposals include plans to further expand ECOSOC governing powers. But the process of winning a term on the ECOSOC is something of a mystery. What qualifications are necessary to be one of these 55 movers-and-shakers in the UN? A stand against terrorism? At least two ECOSOC members sponsor terrorism: Cuba and Korea. It can't be size or economic clout - current members include Saint Lucia (not even 3% of Israel's size, its location unknown to most). A pledge to fight extremism? Not with Pakistan and Algeria serving. Perhaps it is a function of what the Soviets used to call "proteksia" - friends in high places. But then how did America's old nemesis Vietnam get elected, while their "most stable ally and the only democracy in the Middle East" has never served - and never can? It seems ECOSOC members seem to have nothing in common besides inclusion in one of the Regional Groups.

(2) The ECOSOC controls considerable UN activity beyond its own. A recently published agenda of ECOSOC (April 98) shows that this year they elected fellow-member states to a total of nearly 230 seats on at least 20 UN Commissions and Committees, including Human Rights, Natural Resources, the Status of Women, Sustainable Development, and Non-Governmental Organizations (the CNGO itself controls a 1600-strong forum of global activist organizations). All of these are involved in shaping, evaluating and/or enforcing UN policy beyond the ECOSOC itself.

All possible nominations for the above positions, as well as for the ECOSOC Bureau (President of the Council plus 4 VPs), are evenly divided and rotated among the five Regions. Many of these commissions clearly deal with issues in which Israel has a stake. Yet Israel will never have input in tackling those issues. Israel does not officially belong to any Regional Group.

It's a queer clerical error, no doubt, which has escaped the attention of this august body for an amazing length of time. [Although Israel's presence certainly has not escaped UN notice, which judging from the number of negative resolutions constitutes an obsession! The Israeli Mission to the UN estimates that roughly 25% of all UN debates and resolutions relate to only one of their 185 members.]

Beyond Politics

One other possibility exists for Israel to have a say in the pivotal ECOSOC. It is found under the heading "Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations" (CNGO, one of the 20 committees mentioned above). Perhaps here, through the time-honored strategy of "a back-door, low-profile" involvement, Israel might still make her voice heard in ECOSOC, filtered through a non-political "Jewish" presence. It might be expected that if politics is the offending element, the UN would be even more eager to receive contributions from apolitical, humanitarian channels supported by centuries of Jewish tradition. And yes, there does appear to be a Jewish "representation" among the NGOs. But again, some explanation is necessary to appreciate our true global standing.

The CNGO is described as a significant group "in consultative status [to the UN] as a result of action taken by the ECOSOC". In plain language, the 55-member ECOSOC decides whose input is appropriate for the CNGO; the criteria are not published, only the results. Securing a copy the CNGO members' list from July 1997, I searched for clearly identifiable Jewish NGOs, any group ranging from world-famous to obscure. In anticipation of the challenge that perhaps religious representation in general is discouraged in the CNGO, I have listed other religions for comparison. "Pan-Eastern" refers to religions that proclaim "all ways lead to God", which includes faiths of the Far East. [But now I must confess to cheating: in order to improve the Jewish showing, I counted both ethnic and religious orgs, whereas I ignored other ethnic-religious associations such as "Arab" in the case of "Moslem".] Even though this survey is rough and unofficial, the reader will have no trouble sizing up the Jewish people's chances of influencing the UN in a non-governmental context.
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Group 1 ("General Consultants", numbering 88) - Catholic: 1. Other Christian: 1. Pan-Eastern: 4. Islamic: 3. Jewish: 0.

Group 2 ("Special Consultants", numbering 602) - Catholic: 15. Other Christian: 24. Pan-Eastern: 13. 6. Islamic: 8. Jewish: 10.

Before we congratulate ourselves on our showing among the "Special Consultants" to the UN, it must be noted that this category includes such global heavyweights as the International Federation of Beekeepers, the International Black Sea Club, the Federation of European Motorcyclists, and the International Kolping [sic] Society.

Group 3, "The Roster", appears to be the real influence in the CNGO. The UN document makes only passing reference to the first two Groups. It then describes in detail the three ways in which NGOs may qualify for the Roster, and lists them according to the way they were admitted. So how did Jewish groups fare in the prestigious Roster"?

Group 3 ("The Roster", numbering 666) [sic!]:

Subgroup 3a (appointed by ECOSOC with CNGO's recommendation) - Catholic: 1. Other Christian: 7. Pan-Eastern: 12. Islamic: 2. Jewish: 1.
[Sidenote: A notable member of this Roster subgroup, since 1988, is Lucis Trust, originally founded as Lucifer Trust. Their mission in life is to promote the religious teachings of the blatantly antisemitic occultist, Alice A. Bailey. Their influence as UN consultants is summed up in the fact that Bailey's teaching is the backbone for the UN-sponsored, UN-prizewinning World Core Curriculum, the new global model for education.]
Subgroup 3b (appointed by the Secretary General) - no obvious religious groups at all.
Subgroup 3c (appointed by virtue of association with other UN bodies) - Catholic: 8. Other Christian: 1. Pan-Eastern: 4. Islamic: 3. Jewish: 1.

The two Jewish NGOs which made it into the Roster are: "Progressive Judaism"; and "Bnai Brith, in the framework of UNESCO" (apparently 3c). Bnai Brith clarifies this, stating that they are actually "the only Jewish organization with full-time NGO status" in the entire UN. [See their website.]
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Conclusion? Other than kibbutzing with the Beekeepers and Motorcyclists of the world, Israeli and/or Jewish contributions to the ECOSOC are being made by an NGO representing a form of Jewish religion less than 100 years old (not awarded full-time status), and by Bnai Brith (apparently only in UNESCO activity).

But, before we yell "antisemitism", we ought to seek more reasonable explanations for such a poor economic-social contribution from a people known the world over for economic energy and social activism.

Maybe It's Our Own Fault...

Perhaps Jewish groups are shy about applying for membership in the CNGO. After all, it's fine for "the International Association of Islamic Bankers" to be listed as UN consultants, but "International Jewish Bankers"...? Just what the antisemitic fans of _The Protocols of the Elders of Zion_ would love to see. Prudence might dictate that Jews keep out of areas where they are thought (even wrongly) to have objectionable influence. Only it is hard to pinpoint what is threatening about Jewish equivalents of "Catholic Charities" or "Union of Catholic Students", or a host of similar consultants on the CNGO....

Maybe Jewish NGOs just don't care to get involved in managing world affairs. Groups with a strong Jewish identity choose to live differently from non-Jews; therefore they are "separatist". The more visibly Jewish they insist on being, the more separatist they are by definition -- or so goes the circular axiom we are taught today. The Jewish State, with its political-religious distinctive, has a double-dose of the disease. So, isn't it logical that the separatist Jews would refuse to help bear the global burdens? Separatists, as we know, never contribute to anyone outside their own little ghetto. Never mind that Israel has been sharing agricultural technology with Africa for decades (without so much as diplomatic recognition in return), and is among the first to rush humanitarian aid to third-world victims of natural disasters (if necessary, in plain brown wrappers so the recipients won't be "humiliated" by Jewish aid). It's probably all an act to gain world support for their separatist agenda as a "light to the nations". Or something like that.

We'll never know why Israeli global involvement, so prominent elsewhere, is missing from ECOSOC. The fact remains that Jews have a minimal token presence in the UN, even in the non-political arena. It makes us look either apathetic or just pathetic. Is it directly related to the minimal token presence forced on Israel in the UN at large? Is it also related to the unnamed reason why the heroic rescue organization "Magen David Adom" (Red Star of David) is not recognized by the International Red Cross, while the Moslem "Red Crescent" is?

Occasional crumbs are thrown to the dedicated Israeli UN delegates who keep seeking a chance to contribute, but these prove to be fictive or cosmetic. In the year following the Oslo agreement (1993), the Israeli Ambassador Gad Yaacobi proclaimed a "turning point" in Israel-UN relations (report to the Israeli Foreign Ministry, Jan. 26, 1995). The milestones included Israelis permitted to serve in election monitoring in two African countries, an Israeli was appointed Assistant Medical Director in the Peace-Keeping Operations Department, and three Israelis awarded posts of unspecified rank in an administrative authority, a women's rights committee and the Human Rights Committee. Yet, a highly-placed source reported to me an example of the illusory nature of Israel's "new, improved status" in the UN: At the Beijing Conference on the Status of Women, the Israeli delegates were shut out of all the information and strategy meetings (which were organized by Regional Group), and when they innocently "crashed" a WEOG meeting and signed Israel's support to a resolution on violence against women, they were approached by the sponsoring country (Canada) with the demand that they remove the signature. They meekly did so, and the incident was kept out of the media.

The Invisible Democracy

There was one last ray of hope: I discovered the Inter-Parliamentary Union, a global forum consisting of 136 democratic nations represented by members of their respective parliaments. The IPU is a quasi-governmental group dating back to 1889, and an NGO consultant of the ECOSOC. In recent years it was promoted to a UN "facilitator" in its own right and has been courted by the UN for ever-closer cooperation. And Israel is a member! At last, a meaningful platform where Israel can contribute as an equal -- or even as a leader, being the only functioning democracy in her region.

Not so fast. Yes, Israel does belong to the IPU, and is even a "main participant" in the Conference on Security and Cooperation in the Mediterranean (CSCM). But when it comes to sharing parliamentary expertise, the "democracies" of "Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia and Syria" (sic!) are deemed better qualified -- these four sit on the Coordinating Committee of CSCM, setting regional policy for Israel and others. The IPU Committee on Middle East Questions (in spite of three unfilled vacancies) does not have Israeli representation at all. Nor does any other of the 13 Committees within the IPU.

The same strange regional slip-up that plagues the UN also afflicts the IPU. This forum has structured its Committees to "include representatives of all Regions", listed in that context as African, Arab, Asia-Pacific, Central & East Europe, Latin America, and the Twelve-Plus Group (presumably a catch-all equivalent of WEOG). This is Parliamentary Democracy at its finest -- even Burkina Faso (who??) serves on an IPU Committee.... But by designating the Middle East as "the Arab Region", the Jewish State has been erased from the IPU regional map as cleanly as from the Regional Groups of the UN.

Questions and Answers by "Process of Elimination"
The United Nations proclaims itself "by design and definition, universal and impartial... based on the principle of the sovereign equality of it Members." It sees itself as "today bringing together 185 Member States on the basis of sovereign equality and democratic principles". It is clear that neither is true: the UN, in a singular display of partiality, has given an equal voice to 184 of its members, and silenced one of its members. No other member state would endure the double standards which Israel continually accepts from this so-called champion of global fairness. But to exclude one nation for nearly five decades from every process that gives the UN its meaning -- and basing it on a technicality -- is nothing less than sadistic malice.

Why? Punishment for Israel's unresolved conflicts? (Does peace reign everywhere else?) Fear of antagonizing Arab members of the Regions? (How many Arab nations are in the "Western Europe and Others" Region? None, as it turns out.) Or is it covert resentment against one nation that was never meant to participate in the UN? Was Israel's exclusion from the UN Regions fixed since the beginning, because she was expected to disappear with each war launched against her, eventually correcting the "mistake" of her existence? Is Israel permanently barred from entry into the UN power structure, because the Jewish State was hotly denounced as illegitimate by the author of their favorite global curriculum? Readers may judge for themselves.

Other questions remain: Is this UN policy common knowledge among its own members? What have Israeli delegates to the UN done to either live with it or combat it, besides mentioning the pathetic situation in yearly speeches? What official reason is given for continuing Israel's exclusion from Asia, which even the euphoria of Oslo, the Nobel Peace Prize, and other Israeli concessions failed to change? Which of the democracies in WEOG have been blocking Israel's entry into that group, and why? And most important, what will the sweeping UN reforms now in process mean for Israel, still the odd-nation out?

I personally put all of these questions to Israel's Foreign Ministry, the Israeli Consulate in New York, the office of Israel's UN Ambassador (Dore Gold), and several others who have been involved in UN affairs on Israel's behalf... and got no reply from any of them. Perhaps someone else with more political clout will merit their attention and get some answers. That is, if there are any answers to be had which do not expose blatant compromise of Israel's national interests.

Update, Aug. 2000: A Fig Leaf for the Jewish State

As of May 30, 2000, announced the Israeli media, Israel was finally admitted to the WEOG... but don't get too excited. The Israeli Mission to the UN was clearly not excited, and with good reason.

A search of the website of Israel's Mission to the UN finally located this milestone event after several attempts. Not in bright, optimistic headlines announcing the end of a 51-year injustice suffered by no other nation on the planet. Not even in pragmatic news bulletin form, pointing to the significant achievement. No, it was buried in the annual newsletter dated two months later (July 2000), and it wasn't even the lead story. In the tiniest type available, about a dozen sentences informed the world that Israel "enters WEOG as a full member."

"A full member"? The least they could have done was to be honest about it.

A more informative report is available through B'nai Brith, where we read that Israel was forced to agree to humiliating conditions in order to be counted as "a temporary member" of the WEOG. She cannot present candidates to UN vacancies if there is any other available candidate. Rotating seats "in a number of key agencies" are totally off-limits to Israel -- including the powerful ECOSOC [see above for the options ruled out by just this one acronym]. In return, Israel can call herself a member of the WEOG for the next 4 years only.... provided she meets yet another condition: that she periodically proves to the satisfaction of the 26-member WEOG that she is continuing to beg entry into the Asian Group (which all know is a lost cause due to the hostile Moslem faction).

I find nothing in this development to contradict my original report - except that the UN no longer numbers 185 members but 188 - 187 of whom belong to a Regional Group. There are reports of the WEOG refusing entry to other applicants besides Israel, but they are simply dissatisfied members of another Group who would like to transfer. None are homeless except the Jewish State.

We may add to this a brief update on the NGO scene. Consider the report by the U.S. Chairperson of Hadassah, Dr. Sandra Alfonsi: "Hadassah was attacked at the UN when we applied for special status in ECOSOC, because we are a Zionist organization." (report to Professors for a Safe Israel, Mar. 8, 2000) Anyone who knows the track record of Hadassah will immediately understand that here the term "Zionist" has been stretched to include any organization that contributes to the welfare of Israel - still enough of an offense in the year 2000 to invite "attack" and be blacklisted from even non-political activity in the global arena.

I rest my case.

But, meanwhile, my research on trends in the UN itself gives rise to second thoughts about fighting for Israel's full membership after all.

Israel's Biblical enemy, Balaam, long ago prophesied: "It is a people that will dwell alone, and will not be reckoned among the nations." (Numbers 23:9) The context shows that Balaam was originally hired by King Balak to curse Israel, but was compelled by G-d to bless the people instead, with specific words given to him. Therefore, this prophecy coming true before our eyes was not meant as a curse or a prediction of sad exclusion. It was part of a blessing - and that from G-d.

The evidence suggests that this global body is destined to be nothing more than a tool by which the "Hierarchy of Ascended Masters" plans to direct world affairs. Israel as a full member of the UN would eventually be faced with the intolerable situation of having to pledge obedience to a pantheon of New Age "gods" and a global "mandatory religion" - with the concurrent obligation to destroy our monotheistic faith and legacy with our own hands. In doing so, all rationale for being either Israeli or Jewish would disappear. This of course is the Hierarchy's proposed "solution" to the "Jewish problem" (which in their view is a "religious problem").

It's becoming clear that we should be thankful that Israel is barred from furthering her own annihilation on the global level, and those organizations who wish her well are also being spared the shame of participation.