By Jonathan S. Tobin
The U.N. General Assembly narrowly defeated a resolution last Thursday that would have condemned Hamas for its terror campaign against Israel. Three days later, a Palestinian gunman opened fire on a group of Jews waiting at a bus stop near the West Bank Jewish community of Ofra and wounded seven people, including a pregnant woman whose life and baby were endangered by the assault.
Taken together, the two events painted a dismal picture of international indifference to terror directed at Israelis and Jews. After the vote on Hamas failed, the U.N. General Assembly then passed a resolution condemning Israeli settlements by a 156-5 vote with only Israel, the United States, Australia, Liberia and the Marshall Islands voting against it.
Both Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, which opposed the measure aimed at the bitter rivals of P.A. leader Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah Party, declared victory. Hamas then endorsed Sunday’s shooting attack. And should the culprit for the drive-by shooting be found, the supposedly moderate P.A., which sits in the United Nations with non-member observer status, will pay them and their family regular pensions to reward them for the shedding of Jewish blood.
But rather than regard these events as proof that Israel’s critics are right about time running out before outrage over its policies would lead to its complete isolation, the truth is just the opposite. The vote actually illustrated that the world is losing patience with the Palestinians.
It wasn’t long ago that neither the United States nor Israel would have bothered trying to pass anything that condemned Palestinian terror. Yet 87 nations voted to condemn both Palestinian rocket attacks on Israeli cities and towns, as well as its use of civilian infrastructure to mask its ability to commit such war crimes. It was only because of a last-minute vote to require a two-thirds majority for passage that it failed. But a majority of nations still voted yes, with 57 voting no and 33 abstentions.
So while outlets like The New York Times tried to depict the result as a defeat for U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley before she leaves her office at the end of the year, the numbers actually ought to trouble Palestinian leaders and their exploited followers.
Despite the pro-forma support for the Palestinians in such settings, most of the world has lost interest in their century-old war on Zionism.
Part of the credit for this shift must be given to the both Haley and the Trump administration. A year ago, Haley vowed that in the future, the United States would be noticing which nations opposed Washington on key votes, saying she would be “taking names.” Trump made it clear he would consider cutting U.S. aid to those who flouted American objectives while taking its money. To some extent, that was a hollow threat. But Haley’s successful combination of tough rhetoric and private diplomacy paid dividends, and the 87 votes against Hamas shows it isn’t impossible for America to make progress at the world body long known for its anti-Israel measures.
It also demonstrates that despite predictions that U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem would further isolate America and Israel, the opposite has happened.
Yet Abbas and Hamas also know that even many of those Arab nations that voted with them at the United Nations are content to go on paying lip service to the Palestinians in New York, while dealing with and supporting Israel in private. Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and many other Sunni nations have to keep voting against Israel in such forums because to do otherwise would spark outrage among their largely anti-Semitic populations. But in practice, these same governments look to Israel as a strategic ally against both Iran and radical Islamic movements like ISIS, Hezbollah and Hamas.
Those nations are perfectly happy to isolate the terrorist state in Gaza that is blockaded by both Israel and Egypt. They also fear an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank might soon be ruled by Islamists who pose as much of a threat to Cairo, Amman and Riyadh as it would to Jerusalem.
Were the entire Muslim world truly united in their support for the Palestinians, it wouldn’t be possible for Israel to make new friends in Africa and Asia, or to continue to integrate into the global economy as it has done in recent years.
Were the Palestinians serious about peace, this might not be the case. But though American left-wingers who back BDS are willfully ignorant of the last 25 years of history, most of the world knows it is the Palestinians who have repeatedly rejected peace and who cling to terrorism.
While many thought the anomalous and unpleasant status quo in the West Bank couldn’t last, it continues because of incidents like the latest terror attack and the periodic rocket barrages from Gaza.
Israelis understand that neither Abbas nor Hamas is capable of making peace. Every rocket launched and every drop of Jewish blood spilled merely reinforces support for the Israeli government’s refusal to make more territorial concessions until the Palestinians demonstrate they have given up their long war and the brutal terror it engenders.
It’s painfully obvious that the Trump peace plan crafted by his son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner — slated to be released in 2019 — will get nowhere because the Palestinians are, as they were when they rejected previous peace proposals, simply incapable of recognizing the legitimacy of a Jewish state. Few, even in the Muslim world, will care much after that leaves the Palestinians stuck in the same ideological dead end where they’ve allowed themselves to remain for 70 years.
The make-believe world of the United Nations may sometimes yield symbolic results that cheer Israel’s enemies. In the meantime, Israel will continue to grow stronger, militarily, economically and diplomatically, and its isolation will continue to ease. If Hamas thinks that’s a victory, I’d like to see what they call a defeat.
Jonathan S. Tobin is editor-in-chief of JNS — Jewish News Syndicate.