In a speech before his Labor Party on Tuesday, British Prime Minister Tony Blair issued a rallying cry that the world as a whole should welcome.
Calling for moral and political courage in dealing with a world in transformation, Blair said, "The radical decision is usually the right one. The right decision is usually the hardest one. And the hardest decisions are often the least popular at the time."
These are words to live by, but sadly, in the same speech Blair proved that he is personally unwilling to answer his call. As Blair turned his remarks to the Middle East, he stood bereft of any boldness or courage to make the hard choices that he demands of his party and his nation. When it came to Israel, Blair reverted to type and called on Israel to implement UN resolutions just as Britain and the US are demanding from Saddam Hussein.
If this were simply a matter of a prime minister hypocritically raising or lowering taxes after pledging to do just the opposite, Blair's perfidy could be forgiven as so much politics. But by calling for Israel to implement UN resolutions, Blair crossed the line that separates simple political hypocrisy from immorality and wiped away any distinction between himself and his wife Cherie who this spring, to the applause of a depraved audience, explained how she understands suicide bombers.
It isn't easy to attack Tony Blair. After all, he is the only world leader, aside from Ariel Sharon, who openly supports US President George W. Bush's plan to depose Saddam Hussein. In doing so he has distinguished himself as a lone moral force in a degenerate Europe that even he politely allows is "not yet politically coherent."
So why should Blair's call for Israel to fulfill UN resolutions brand him as immoral? Stated simply, in order for Israel to abide by UN resolutions, Israel must cease to exist. A call for Israel to heed UN resolutions is a call for Israel to commit suicide.
Over the past year alone, the UN has passed resolution after resolution, in the Security Council, in the General Assembly, in its Human Rights Commission, and even in its Commission on Aging that deny Israel its legal right, under Article 51 of the UN Charter, to defend itself against aggression.
In one month, between March and April, the UN Security Council held 32 separate debates on Israel. The UN Conference on Racism last September effectively reinstated the General Assembly's definition of Zionism as racism and thus denied that Israel has the legal right to exist under international law. In April, the UN Human Rights Commission passed a resolution endorsing Palestinian terrorism against Israel.
For the past 54 years, the UN has followed a consistent and coherent policy regarding only one issue: anti-Semitism. Its policy has been to advance anti-Semitism by systematically and illegally discriminating against the Jewish state all the time and everywhere. In so doing, the UN has lost even the semblance of legitimacy as a world government. It cannot be regarded as a body responsible for enforcing international law, because in its systematic discrimination against Israel, it stands in breach of international law as embodied in its own charter's determination that all member states are to be treated equally.
In his remarkable speech before the UN General Assembly on September 12, President Bush posed a challenge to the world body, saying, "Will the United Nations serve the purpose of its founding, or will it be irrelevant?"
Bush, of course, asked the question in regards to enforcement of Security Council resolutions against Iraq, but his challenge is no less valid, in fact it is more valid, as it relates to Israel. How can the United Nations be expected to take Saddam to task for his breaches of Security Council dictates when it cannot even abide by its own charter?
Today, through the good offices of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, the president's call for action against the criminal regime of Saddam Hussein is being undermined. With Kofi's nodding encouragement, the Arabs and the French have echoed Blair's call for Israeli suicide. The Arabs have unabashedly argued that the destruction of Israel through the enforcement of UN resolutions must come before the liberation of Iraq through the enforcement of UN resolutions.
To a large extent, the Bush administration has only itself to blame for Annan's carefully crafted box that it must now escape. By not preempting their nefarious linkage of Israel and Iraq, Bush gave both the Arabs and the UN a perfect way to sabotage action on his devastating indictment of Saddam.
What motivates the otherwise honorable Bush administration to refuse to call the Arabs and the UN to task for their illegal rejection of Israel's legitimacy? What caused the administration this week to breach the US Constitution by announcing its intention to ignore Congress's bill demanding US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital even as the president was signing it into law? And what stands behind Tony Blair's cynical call for Israel to implement anti-Semitic UN resolutions?
The basic problem is that the Bush administration, like Tony Blair, is basing its policies on Iraq, and the war on Islamic terrorism in general, on a misconception. That misconception, which has been a centerpiece of US policy in the Middle East since 1948, is that the American interest in stability in the Middle East is advanced by not questioning the Arab world's rejection of Israel.
Unfortunately, this view, which over the years has become an article of faith in Washington, is not grounded in reality. After all, Arab rejection of Israel's right to exist has been translated into a situation of continuous warfare in the region for the past 54 years. That is, Arab rejection of Israel is the primary cause of the instability the US so labors to defuse.
At the UN, the US has distinguished itself as Israel's protector. The US, particularly under the Bush administration, has refused to sign on to Security Council resolutions that only condemn Israel. The Bush administration only signs on to Security Council resolutions that condemn both Israel and the Palestinians. That is, the administration rejects the UN's claim that only the fireman is to blame for the fire, and insists on distributing its recriminations equally between the fireman and the arsonist.
With regard to Jerusalem, while the US claims neutrality on the issue of Israel's right to its capital, its actual policy has been to accept the Arab view that Israel has no right to its capital city. By refusing to formally accept that Jerusalem is part of Israel, the administration is saying that although sovereignty will be settled in a peace accord, in the meantime, it is with the Arabs who make war on Israel rather than sign a peace accord.
All of this is carried out to show the Arabs that it is okay to reject Israel's right to exist.
Today, the US has but two allies in its war against terrorism. These allies also share the US's primary interest in achieving stability in the Middle East. The two allies are Britain and Israel. The rest of the world is led by forces – from Moscow to Paris to New York to Cairo – who are automatically opposed to the war and wish to prevent the achievement of that stability.
The rest of the world is now holding the cards for the US in the UN Security Council. In linking their tepid support for the war on terror with American acceptance of the continued legitimacy of Arab rejectionism of Israel, they are working to ensure that the US will win neither its war on terrorism nor achieve stability in the Middle East.
Ironically, a potential way for the US to sidestep these hostile forces and achieve its aims is to do the one thing it has refused to do in the name of that war and in the name of that stability. If
the US were to sign a mutual defense treaty with Israel, it could take down Saddam Hussein's regime tomorrow, basing its actions on the right to collective defense against terrorist attacks that Saddam is today funding and organizing against Israel. Such a treaty would enable the US to take action against other terrorist regimes and organizations – from Iran to Syria to the Hizbullah – without need for UN approval and with full Israeli military assistance.
Fifty-four years of war in the Middle East have shown that the Middle East will only be stable when the Arabs accept Israel. Fifty-four years of war have shown that the Arabs will accept Israel only when they see that they have no other choice. The September 11 attacks and Arab policy towards the US since have shown that Israel and the US have the same enemies.
The outcome of the war will be determined by the ability of the Bush administration and the Blair government to meet Blair's challenge of accepting that "the radical decision is usually the right one." If Bush and Blair cling to their failed policy of pursuing stability by accepting Arab rejectionism, they will become enslaved to an illegitimate and unreformed UN, lose the war on terror, and promote instability in the Middle East for generations to come. If they take the right and radical course, at the end of the war they will likely be greeted by the world they envision for us all.
Originally published in The Jerusalem Post