US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley’s sudden resignation this week distressed a lot of Israelis. On the face of things, the widely felt concern makes little sense. After all, Haley wasn’t a lone wolf in the Trump administration.
Then-president Barack Obama’s anti-Israel UN ambassadors Susan Rice and Samantha Power weren’t free agents when they took hostile actions and made hostile statements about Israel. They were speaking and acting as representatives of their boss, Obama.
Just so, in defending Israel by word and deed, Haley was a loyal representative of the policies of her boss, President Donald Trump.
So why did her decision to resign make so many Israelis anxious?
Because while Haley was a loyal representative of the administration, she was more than a mouthpiece. She was a leader.
Leading in a place like the UN means speaking truth to the most powerful sort of mob – the elite mob.
The UN’s mob mentality doesn’t manifest itself in book burnings and mass rallies. Rather, it expresses itself in a thousand ways – often passive-aggressive – every day in UN institutions.
It isn’t just that Haley was forced to cast the lone nay vote last December, when the other 14 Security Council members (including Britain and France) voted in a favor of a resolution demanding that the US reverse its sovereign decision to move its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and recognize that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital city.
Every day, the UN shows its mob mentality in its obsessive-compulsive bias against the Jewish state.
Wednesday, for instance, UNESCO passed yet another resolution that pretends the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron and Rachel’s Tomb are Palestinian world heritage sites.
Disgusted by UNESCO’s out-of-control antisemitism, last year the Trump administration announced it would leave the organization at the end of 2018.
Citing UNESCO’s moves in Hebron from last year as the impetus for the US action, Haley said at the time that UNESCO’s politicization was a “chronic embarrassment.”
“Just as we said in 1985 when President Reagan withdrew from UNESCO, US taxpayers should no longer be on the hook to pay for policies that are hostile to our values and make a mockery of justice and common sense, ” she said.
Haley was a leader at the UN because she used her bully pulpit to stand up to the braying mob every day. She put a mirror to the faces of ambassadors from allied and enemy nations alike and told them to be ashamed of themselves for joining, and sometimes leading the mob.
Like all mobs – elite and common – the UN mob rejects facts. They reject rationality and reason in favor of passions and prejudices. The herd mentality of the UN protects tyrannies and renders free nations – first and foremost Israel – perpetually vulnerable. It rejects sovereignty and insists on uniformity of actions that invariably assists the causes of tyrants while harming the interests of free nations – again, first and foremost, Israel – as well as the US.
Haley’s leadership was critical because one of the most overlooked truths in public discourse, whether at the UN or anywhere else, is that telling inconvenient truths to mobs is a vital undertaking. Without people willing to stand up forcefully, and even sometimes brutally, to powerful mobs that uphold falsehoods as truth, the mobs will never change. They will never accept reality, even if it blows up in their faces.
One of the places where a powerful leader like Haley is desperately needed is among Israel’s foreign policy and security elites.
Much has been said over the past several years about the uniformity of the views of Israel’s legal fraternity. State prosecutors and Supreme Court justices have for years been criticized, often bitterly, for their uniform left-wing bias. This bias has made a mockery of the rule of law in Israel where Israeli residents in Judea and Samaria, free market politicians, the IDF and rabbinical authorities know that they will be subjected to biased treatment at the hands of the legal fraternity.
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked’s recruitment of conservative justices to the Supreme Court is rightly upheld as one of her major achievements in office. But arguably, an equally important accomplishment has been her willingness to speak bluntly to Israel’s legal establishment about their institutional bias and the deleterious impact their bias has had on the Israeli democratic system of governance and the rule of law. Until Shaked came along, no one in a position of real authority was willing to stand before Supreme Court justices and tell them to be ashamed of themselves for their constant assaults on the very foundations of Israeli democracy.
Unfortunately, Israel’s legal fraternity isn’t the only old boys’ mob where people whose views are out of step with the ruling elite are permanently shut out. Israel’s national security fraternity suffers from the same problem.
We see this most dramatically in relation to the Palestinians, although the institutional bias of Israel’s national security community is brought to bear along a spectrum of issues.
The Oslo peace process with the PLO was initiated 25 years ago. It was predicated on the “land for peace paradigm” long championed by the radical left. It failed incontrovertibly 18 years ago when the PLO rejected statehood and peace, instead initiating a massive terror war against Israel in conjunction with Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
Since then, virtually not a day has gone by without another Palestinian terror attack against Israelis. Rather than reach the appropriate conclusion 18 years ago – that the land for peace paradigm was wrong – the security establishment writ large, maintained faith with it. Instead of abandoning the paradigm, they, like the political left, simply updated their marketing practices. Talk of “peace” was out. First it was replaced by “separation.” Then “demography.” Then “democracy.” Then “disengagement.” Then “consolidation.”
We got “long term security arrangements.”
We got “settlement blocs vs. isolated settlements.”
And then we started getting “separation again.”
But the idea was always the same: land for peace.
As for the Palestinians, year in and year out we hear the same things, even as they are repackaged as being pathbreaking.
We are told that we have to “strengthen” Palestinian Authority chief, terror financier and virulent Jew hater Mahmoud Abbas.
Because he’s a moderate.
We need to invest in the kleptocratic wholly corrupt Palestinian economy.
Because it’s the way to make the Palestinian people feel a “peace dividend.”
THE FACT that more than $10 billion in international aid and billions more in Israeli aid have been invested in developing the Palestinian economy for 25 years and we’ve never seen a peace dividend, is no reason to stop paying them off.
All that the likes of Saudi Arabia need, to stand at Israel’s side and be part of a “regional solution,” is proof of Israel’s peaceful intentions. So Israel, we are told by the apolitical security experts, needs to make clear that it is leaving Judea and Samaria in whole or part.
The fact that the Arabs never agreed to be part of a regional solution – and wouldn’t even embrace Israel publicly when it was actively engaged in giving land to the PLO – makes no difference to Israel’s national security-experts mob.
The fact that the Arab world is plagued by political instability, which makes it impossible to bank on long-term relations with any Arab regime is also immaterial. Israel needs to give the Palestinians land to convince the Arabs to support us. And they will. We just know they will.
Politically, Israel also needs to act on behalf of the PA. We need to help strengthen it. The fact that 25 years of Israeli and international efforts to “build institutions” in the PA have brought no results beyond instilling Nazi-like Jew hatred in the hearts and minds of the Palestinian public is entirely beside the point.
And then there are the Palestinian security forces. The Israeli security brass says they are the greatest. We need to strengthen them and cooperate even more with them. The fact that dozens of Palestinian security force members have engaged in terrorist attacks against Israel is immaterial. Indeed, it’s irrelevant. So is the fact that Hamas, which those forces fight, constitutes a greater threat to those security services than it does to Israel.
Every few months, these positions are repackaged and presented to the public by a group of retired generals. They tell us to trust them because they were generals in the IDF or senior commanders in the Mossad and Shin Bet. They are professionals. They are apolitical. Zionism is their only agenda.
All criticism against these unbiased, entirely professional, apolitical experts is castigated as politically motivated. Their critics are dismissed as fanatics, or messianics, or right-wing extremists.
LAST WEEK, we saw this process unfold yet again with the launch of yet another “groundbreaking” report about the way “forward” with the Palestinians, produced by Tel Aviv University’s elite Institute for National Security Studies, staffed by retired senior security brass.
The INSS report titled, “A Political-Security Framework for the Israeli-Palestinian Arena” was, we are told, the result of two years of work.
Led by Maj.-Gen. (res.) Amos Yadlin, the INSS’s professional, apolitical researchers met with Americans, Europeans, Palestinians – and Arabs from states without peace with Israel – to talk about the way to move forward with the Palestinians.
And, surprise, surprise, they came up with the same failed “land for peace” plan that the Left has come up with for the last 25 years.
The INSS’s “pathbreaking” report contains no reconsideration of any consistently failed strategic assumptions.
Which brings us back to Haley and the Trump administration she so ably represented.
The INSS “experts” claim that Israel needs to seize the opportunity that the friendly Trump administration affords us to set a new agenda with the Palestinians.
But while this assertion is true enough, the INSS report – like all the reports of security “experts” that preceded it – does no such thing. Instead, the INSS’s wise men and women, with their vast national security experience, tell us that we should use Trump’s time in office to convince the friendliest US administration in history to embrace the policies of the most unfriendly US administrations in the history of US-Israel ties. They advocate convincing Trump to embrace the same policies they have advocated, which have failed consistently for a generation.
Haley’s replacement will likely share her positions on Israel and her criticisms of the UN’s institutional antisemitism, since her successor will also be representing the Trump administration. But it is hard to imagine her replacement will replicate the extraordinary moral leadership she exercised.
This is not because he or she will be less moral, but because, as the mob mentality of Israel’s security brass shows, leaders like Haley – who can effectively stand up to braying mobs of well-heeled elitists – don’t grow on trees.