Trump withdrawing US from UNESCO over fake “anti-Israel bias” is attack on Palestinians and UN – Benjamin Dixon interview

I joined Benjamin Dixon’s show to discuss President Donald Trump withdrawing the United States from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) over false accusations of “anti-Israel” bias.

You can watch the interview below:

I address in the interview how this action serves multiple purposes. First and foremost, it is a form of shielding US proxy Israel from any form of criticism whatsoever of its illegal activities — in the 50th year of illegal Israeli military occupation and colonization of the Palestinian territories.

Dixon and I also talk about how the strongest supporters of Israel in the US are in fact Christian Zionists, many of whom have an extremist Evangelical ideological worldview that sees the Israeli settler-colonial project in Palestine as part of a larger religious mission (and that is in fact deeply anti-Semitic).

The recent attacks on the al-Aqsa mosque in occupied Jerusalem and the far-right Temple movement are likewise key factors in this process of colonization and demonization of UNESCO.

I furthermore stress that the withdrawal from UNESCO is also part of the Trump administration’s offensive against the UN as a whole. Trump is continuing the right-wing dream of undermining international institutions and bodies that are not strictly beholden to US power and that give smaller countries throughout the world, particularly in the Global South, at least some kind of voice and representation on the global stage — even though the colonial history of the UN has created a structure that still limits their influence.

These unilateral attacks on the Palestinians and the United Nations underscore just how much of a rogue state the US is.

In May, I published an article in AlterNet’s Grayzone Project, co-written with Adam Johnson, debunking the myth that the UN has an “anti-Israel bias” — a lie propagated in a letter signed by all 100 US senators.

We wrote:

U.N.’s Pro-Israel Bias

In reality, the evidence shows that the U.N. has a pro-Israel bias. Emails leaked from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton demonstrate how the U.S. State Department successfully exerted pressure with the goal of “deferring” U.N. action on Israeli war crimes, as previously detailed in my report in Salon.

While the State Department conceded that the 2009 U.N. Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, known commonly as the Goldstone Report, was only “moderate,” it was still not pro-Israel enough for the U.S. Messages from top officials illustrate how the government pushed to water down the report, “reframing the debate” about the atrocities and “moving away from the U.N.”

Moreover, U.S. government cables released by WikiLeaks show how former U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon worked with the U.S. and Israeli governments to weaken the 2009 U.N. report on the war crimes Israel had committed in its recent war in Gaza, known as Operation Cast Lead.

The idea that Israel was “singled out for special scrutiny” is conventional wisdom in U.S. political circles. Those who make this argument, as the senators do in the letter, point to Agenda Item 7, a standing agenda item on the U.N. Human Rights Council docket that debates Israeli human rights violations. Crucial context missing from this talking point is that the focus on Israel’s human rights record by less powerful U.N. bodies like the Human Rights Council is the logical byproduct of a U.N. Security Council—by far the most powerful and consequential U.N. body—doing nothing to curb Israel’s human rights abuses through the decades.

Indeed, the last time before December of last year the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution even vaguely condemning Israel was in 2002, when Resolution 1397 passed calling for a two-state solution. The United States’ “automatic veto” on all things Israel virtually guarantees even its most flagrant human rights abuses will go unchecked by the only body with the power to actually enforce anything.

Take one word cloud of the frequency of countries referred to in U.N. press statements in all of 2016. Israel barely registered a blip, wedged between Syria and Central-African-Republic. Does this look like a country that’s suffering “entrenched bias”?

un word cloud countries

A word cloud of countries referred to in UN press statements in 2016