The U.N.: What Is It Good For?

In the three weeks that have gone by since the Gazan massacre of October 7, the United Nations Security Council has not been able to adopt a single resolution relating to the massacre or the resulting war:

For weeks, the Security Council has been riven by divisions over the war and its impact, rejecting four draft resolutions about the conflict.

Some texts were blocked by the United States, a close Israel ally, because they did not mention Israel’s right to defend itself.

Another presented by the Americans was stymied by Russia and China in particular because it did not clearly call for a ceasefire.

In light of the impasse, the UN General Assembly last Friday adopted by a large majority a non-binding resolution requesting an “immediate humanitarian truce,” but not mentioning Hamas.

Israel, through [Ambassador Gilad] Erdan, blasted the text, saying it will “go down as infamy.”

Israel’s U.N. delegation has begun wearing yellow stars to protest the U.N.’s impotence in the face of the ultimate evil of Hamas:

Israel’s United Nations ambassador displayed a yellow star on his chest Monday as he addressed the Security Council, provocatively pledging to wear the badge until members of the body condemn Hamas “atrocities,” in a move quickly disavowed by the head of Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial.

“Some of you have learned nothing in the past 80 years. Some of you have forgotten why this body was established,” envoy Gilad Erdan said, as he denounced the Security Council for “staying silent” over the unprecedented deadly attacks by Hamas Palestinian militants against Israel on October 7.
“So, I will remind you. From this day on, each time you look at me you will remember what staying silent in the face of evil means,” Erdan said.

“Just like my grandparents, and the grandparents of millions of Jews, from now on my team and I will wear yellow stars,” he said, standing up to affix one on the breast of his suit inscribed with the words “Never Again,” in reference to the yellow stars Jews were forced to wear by the Nazis.

Within Israel, the yellow star gambit has been controversial.

The stunt was quickly called out by Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum director Dani Dayan, who said it “dishonors both the victims of the Holocaust and the State of Israel.”

“The yellow patch symbolizes the helplessness of the Jewish people and being at the mercy of others. Today we have an independent country and a strong army,” Dayan posted on X, formerly known as Twitter.

“We are masters of our destiny. Today we place a blue-white flag on the lapel, not a yellow patch,” Dayan added.

Of course, everything is controversial in Israel. I don’t have an opinion on that disagreement. I would only note that expecting anything good from the U.N. is futile.

The glory days when Abba Eban could sway world opinion, and even U.N. delegates, with his eloquent advocacy for Israel are long gone. For decades, the U.N. has been largely a force for evil. Maybe some of its branches do some good somewhere, I don’t know. But when it comes to international crises, to war and peace, to genocide or attempted genocide, the U.N., when not useless, is likely to be on the wrong side. On the international stage, it seems to exist mostly to give Arab countries a forum in which to attack Israel. For that, American taxpayers contribute our dollars?

The U.N. stopped being relevant a long time ago. These days, the best the U.S. can do is prevent it from doing gratuitous harm. Maybe one of these days, we will jettison the organization altogether.

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