Board Chair Reflections: Shalom, Chavera

Nikki Haley resigned as the US Ambassador to the United Nations last week. Her departure saddens me. My sentiments are not politically based. They are not an endorsement of our current administration nor an attack thereon. I am sad because she, like me and most of Federation’s supporters, feels deeply about the legitimacy of Israel.

Ambassador Haley was a vocal disruptor of the status quo. She unapologetically defended Israel in the most virulently anti-Semitic forum on the planet – the United Nations. I contend that, on the world stage, anti-Israel(ism) is the contemporary expression of anti-Semitism. This conclusion, again, is not political. It is fact. Although an imperfect nation, Israel is indisputably one of the most progressive democracies in the world, let alone the ONLY democracy in the Middle East. Yet, it is continuously singled out and a double standard applied to any and all of its actions, allowing far more egregious violators of human rights a virtual free pass, including Syria, Iran, North Korea, etc. In 2017, the General Assembly passed 21 anti-Israel resolutions and only six condemning other countries. The UN Human Rights Commission, comprised of such progressive nations as Pakistan, China, Cuba, and Venezuela maintains, a permanent agenda item on Israel, passing more resolutions against her than all other countries combined.

With unprecedented passion for her position, Ambassador Haley refused to accept these biased practices, speaking often and vociferously against the institutional obsession against Israel. She advocated for and led the US withdrawal from the Human Rights Council, and terminated funding of both this Council and UNWRA, the refugee agency within the UN dedicated to the purported support and actual perpetuation of Palestinian refugee status and dependence (please do not infer this statement as my view of the plight of the Palestinian people – I have a lot more to say on their tragic situation).

Some dismiss the UN bodies discussed above as meaningless rhetoric that we, as Jews, have endured for time immemorial – vitriol that has no practical result. Words do matter. Attitudes do have impact. Ambassador Haley disagreed that these diatribes and resolutions could be ignored without consequence. She disagreed that the concept of diplomacy dictated exercising our Security Council veto without much comment. I disagree, too. We should all disagree. Israel’s existence is not guaranteed, and its legitimacy is constantly under siege. We may not agree on all actions taken by our country on behalf of or counter to Israel. Regardless of those honest disagreements, I appreciate Ambassador Haley’s efforts and do believe she helped move the needle in Israel’s direction. The threats against Israel are both patent and latent, with her allies often remaining silent (i.e., abstaining) on even the most unbalanced resolutions. 

Federation is committed to supporting the needy in, and preserving/fostering connections with, the State of Israel alongside of our partners at JDC, JAFI, World Ort, and our friends in Sha’ar HaNegev. I am confident that Jews of all political colors can agree that Israel confronts a largely hostile, biased world, personified by some of the bodies of the United Nations. Challenging anti-Semitism, however expressed, is our duty (no, we need not blindly agree with all that Israel does). Ambassador Haley made that defense some of her most public pronouncements.

Israel had a friend in Ambassador Haley on the world stage. Shalom, Chavera.


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