The vote in the United Nations General Assembly concerning Jerusalem on Thursday wasn’t really about Jerusalem — or even so much about Israel.
It was about the self-presumed moral superiority of countries sitting in the U.N. General Assembly, defying the reality of 3,000 years of Jerusalem as the spiritual capital of the Jewish people and the seat of government of three Jewish Commonwealths, but never the seat of government for any other country or people. It was also about defying the reality that only under Jewish sovereignty is Jerusalem an open, tolerant city for people of all faiths, or no faith. They know that. But they thought it was a free shot at Israel, Jews and the president of the United States.
It is true that the latest U.N. vote will have little practical impact; United Nations General Assembly resolutions don’t come with financial or other penalties. Israel remains in Jerusalem and the Palestinians are no closer to — and, in fact, are much further from — finding themselves a legitimate place in the family of actual countries.
So, on the one hand, votes were just a cheap “up yours” from a lot of countries that expect still to work with Israel in NATO (the Europeans), invest in Israel’s high tech (Europeans, Asians and others), take advantage of Israel’s shared energy, water, agricultural prowess (Africans), and have Israel as an ally in the fight against Iran (Sunni Arab states) as if the vote hadn’t happened.
On the other hand, the United States had drawn a line in the sand. A presumed free kick at President Trump was a “gimme” for a lot of governments that simply detest the president (Europeans), and expect still to receive the benefits of American foreign aid and/or security assistance that keep them in power (Asians, Africans South Americans — let’s face it, just about everyone). And countries who know perfectly well that it is under American rules that international trade and freedom of the seas and skies are protected. Not one, outside perhaps North Korea, would trade our security blanket for Russian or Chinese rules.
This constitutes moral mud; whether it was free remains to be seen.
And speaking of morality, in just the past five years, the cesspool at Turtle Bay has watched as:
— At least 500,000 Syrians died and 11 million became refugees, internally or externally, while Iran ethnically cleanses the center of Syria of its Sunni population using mercenary armies of Afghans, Pakistanis and other Shiites while spitting on UN resolutions. And Russia helps.
— The Assad regime dumps barrel bombs and chemical weapons on its civilian population – spitting on U.N. resolutions. And Russia helps.
— North Korea continues its march to nuclear weapons-capable delivery systems to go with the nuclear weapons they have built while spitting on U.N. resolutions and sanctions. And China, Iran and Pakistan help.
— Iran proceeds along the path to nuclear weapons with ballistic missiles designed to deliver them — spitting on U.N. demands that they not do neither. And North Korea helps.
— Hezbollah puts thousands and thousands of rockets and missiles among the civilian population of southern Lebanon – spitting on U.N. resolutions. And Iran helps.
— Half a million Rohingya Muslims flee Myanmar in the face of ethnic cleansing at home – the U.N. hasn’t even bothered with a resolution on their behalf. And no one helps.
So much for the sensibilities and capabilities of the vaunted “international community.”
For President Trump, the vote was not a loss. It was confirmation of his recently-released National Security Strategy. The United States, he said, would put the well-being of Americans first. We couldn’t and wouldn’t try to fix everyone and everything. The reality is that there are limitations in the world even for its single economic and military superpower. (Russia and China are wannabes.) Other countries, the President said, are invited to join us in pursuit of common goals, but have to make themselves partners. “Our alliances, partnerships, and coalitions are built on free will and shared interests.”
Countries were just showing how close, or how far, they are from the standard.
This is useful clarity both for the Trump administration and for Americans who periodically question the need for an institution for which we foot 30 percent of the bill and 23 percent of the peacekeeping funds. Americans sometimes wonder just who elected those guys and just who they represent. Americans wonder why the determination of Israel’s capital is everyone else’s business. And why the specifically American decision — reinforced by the Congress of the United States and implemented by a President who told the American people he would do it — is anyone else’s business either.
No, the U.N. is not a top priority for Americans. But when it comes up — as it did Thursday — they expect their government to be moral; to stand for the good and the just; and to stand for Israel. The Trump administration did that, which constitutes a win for him and for the people he represents.
Shoshana Bryen is an expert on Mideast affairs, who writes for Daily Caller and the Jewish Policy Center.