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The (dis)United Nations

Observer Viewpoint | Wednesday, March 31, 2004

The United Nations needs another reality check. Eleven of the 15 members of the U.N. Security Council voted in favor of a Palestinian-backed, Algerian-proposed resolution Thursday, condemning Israel’s assassination of Hamas “spiritual” leader Ahmed Yassin. Three abstained, while the lone veto came, of course, from the United States, who, as one of the five permanent members on the Security Council, effectively blocked this nonsensical resolution from passing.

Upon first glance, the resolution might not seem so absurd because extrajudicial executions are in violation of international law. But in this case, when the language of the resolution conveniently failed in any way to condemn Hamas and the countless “extrajudicial executions,” or better-termed maniacal terrorist bombings, the organization carries out every day, it is impossible for any member of the U.N. Security Council to have justified voting for such an egregiously slanted measure. Just days before the Yassin assassination, a suicide bomber in Ashdod killed 10 innocent Israelis. Where were the peace-loving Algerians then?

Well, they certainly weren’t drafting a U.N. resolution condemning the Palestinian Authority’s less-than concerted effort to stopping Hamas terrorists living under their watch. How could Algeria and the nations who voted with them treat an evil terrorist organization like Hamas as a political body equivalent to the nation of Israel? How could they even begin to take a man like Hamas political leader Mohamad Ghazal seriously, who, according to a Reuters article Friday, referred to the United States as “the chairman of the axis of evil in the world” and said the U.N. Security Council veto was “Israel’s green light to carry out assaults and crimes.” Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.

On the very same day that these comments were made, Israeli soldiers gunned down two would-be Hamas frogmen snipers, who swam across the Mediterranean attempting to launch a sneak attack on the Jewish community of Tel Kateifa. But I guess Mr. Ghazal does not classify terrorist attacks like these committed against Jews and Americans as assaults and crimes.

Here’s something those countries who voted for the resolution ought to consider: assassinating a terrorist without so much as touching a hair on an innocent bystander’s head is not the same as blowing up a bus full of school children. Yassin, one of the masterminds of the 1993 U.S. Trade Center bombing, was a man responsible for the deaths of hundreds of innocent people, including his own. Israel has every right to defend its security against animals like this. There was nothing tragic about Yassin’s death. The world is a safer place without him.

According to an Associated Press article written Thursday, Nasser al-Kidwa, the Palestinian representative to the United Nations, had the gall to say after the vote, “Israeli policies are not part of the battle against international terrorism; it’s part of the problem of creating terrorism. Israel’s actions have escalated tensions in Gaza and the region, and could set back our effort to resume progress towards peace.” If such a comment does not reveal the Palestinian Authority’s total unwillingness to crack down on Hamas and curb terrorism, then does al-Kidwa need to actually come out and say, “The Palestinian Authority will not stop Hamas and other radical terrorists organizations akin to them because we secretly agree with their ultimate objective of wiping Israel off the face of the earth” for the U.N. to recognize Palestinian hypocrisy? Taking it one step further, what about the entire Arab world’s hypocrisy? For if Algeria, Egypt, Syria and the rest of their Arab brothers wanted peace they would not remain so conspicuously silent after terrorist bombings carried out by Muslim extremists not only against Israel but the United States and pre-dominantly Christian nations in Europe as well. They also would not allow their national newspapers equivalent in circulation to the The Wall Street Journal or The New York Times to print hate-filled lies about these same places as a way to deflect attention from the the shortcomings of their own governments, none of which take the form of legitimate democracy. The truth hurts sometimes. A combination of severe economic equality, corrupt governments, intolerant religious extremism and a crippling “blame everyone else but ourselves” mentality is the root cause of the Arab world’s problems, not any Israeli or American policy.

As an international governing body, the U.N. is supposed to be even-handed, unbiased and impartial at all times. One-sided resolutions such as these are clearly not in line with this mission. By rightfully wielding its veto power, the United States showed once again why it has replaced the U.N. as the objective leader of the world. As John Negroponte, the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., bravely pointed out before last Thursday’s vote, “This Security Council does nothing to contribute to a peaceful settlement when it condemns one party’s actions and turns a blind eye to everything else occurring in the region.”

Even Britain, the U.S.’s staunch ally in the war on terror and true diplomatic friend in every sense of the word, dropped the ball on this one, electing to abstain rather than veto. In the wake of the U.N. vote, it might seem as if the U.S. is the only nation with any moral backbone left. But that would be grossly unfair to Australia, who decried the unfair resolution. It’s just unfortunate Australia is not a permanent member of the Security Council. They certainly should be. After losing 88 citizens among the 202 innocent people who died in the horrific Bali bombing on Oct. 12, 2002, Australia understands what the war on terror is all about.

Joe Licandro is a senior political science major. His column appears every other Wednesday. He can be contacted at jlicandr@nd.edu.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of the Observer.