A sick joke

Jewish Light Editorial

In George Orwell’s classic dystopian novel “1984,” the party leading the totalitarian government of Oceania touts the slogan “War is Peace. Freedom is Slavery. Ignorance is Strength.” Who could have predicted that members of the United Nations, which was founded with such high hopes on the ashes of World War II and the Holocaust, would today be routinely adopting resolutions that would make Big Brother wince?

It is a matter of common knowledge that the State of Israel has, since its inception, been a light unto other nations in the areas of women’s rights and health care treatment. And yet, despite Israel’s exemplary record in both of these and other areas of concern to U.N. entities, Israel has been named as the “number one violator of women’s rights” and the “worst violator of health rights in the world.”

The condemnation of Israel regarding its treatment of women was the official position of the U.N.’s top women’s rights body, the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), which earlier this year singled out Israel among the 193 member states for violating women’s rights.

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Israel’s record on women’s rights is notable and vastly beyond that of its neighbors. Israel has had female Cabinet members since the days of its first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion; he named Golda Meir to his Cabinet, and she later became the nation’s fourth prime minister. And the role of women in everyday Israeli life, from business to government to the military, demonstrates an egalitarianism present in precious few nations.

Why did Israel receive this ignominious recognition? Supposedly because of the treatment of women in the Palestinian territories, which the CSW apparently attributes to the Israeli government rather than to the leadership of the Palestinian Authority, or Fatah, or Hamas.

But even if one accepts this faulty premise (we obviously don’t), just look at who the commission chose to ignore as it singled out Israel:

• Saudi Arabia, where women are not allowed to drive cars and can be flogged if they do not wear traditional garb, receive half the inheritances of their brothers, are not permitted to travel unless accompanied by a male relative and who can be stoned to death if found guilty of adultery.

•  Iran, where adultery is broadly defined and is a capital offense.

• Sudan, where domestic violence is legal, girls are often married off at the age of 10 and genital mutilation is practiced on half of the female population.

And if the above was not enough of an outrage, the annual assembly of the U.N.’s World Health Organization (WHO), by a vote of 104 to 4, with 6 abstentions and 65 absent, designated Israel as the “world’s top violator of health rights.”

Hillel C. Neuer, executive director of the watchdog agency United Nations Watch (UNW), writes:

“As Israeli hospitals continue their life-saving treatment for escalating numbers of wounded Syrians fleeing to the Golan from the (Bashar) Assad regime’s barbaric attacks, the U.N. reached new heights of absurdity today (May 20) by accusing Israel of violating the health rights of Syrians in the Golan.”

Neuer reports that “the resolution, which adopted two reports heaping blame on Israel for allegedly violating the health rights of both the Palestinians and Druze residents of the Golan, was the 2015 assembly’s only treatment of a specific country situation” — not the crisis of tens of thousands in Yemen, not those in Ukraine caught in war with Russia-backed militias and not the plight of those in Palestinian refugee camps in Syria.

Meanwhile, the self-same State of Israel, has continued to dispatch top-tier medical rescue teams to places like Nepal and Haiti, where their work has been widely praised for its professionalism, compassion and efficiency. As Neuer so aptly puts it, “The U.N. health assembly should single out Israel — as a beacon of humanity.”

It’s incumbent on those who contend that anti-Zionism is not equivalent to anti-Semitism to provide a very persuasive argument as to why largely progressive Israel receives castigation on women’s and health issues while chronic violators skate by with not even a word. 

Absent that kind of proof, it’s fair to say that the characterizations of these U.N. entities regarding Israel look like yet another example of condemning Israel because of its identity as the Jewish State.