Why YU Should Reconsider YUNMUN
Next week, Yeshiva University will host the 30th session of YUNMUN (Yeshiva University National Model United Nations). The university’s website describes YUNMUN as “a student-run simulation of the workings of the real United Nations that gives students an opportunity to experience and learn about the complex landscape of international diplomacy.” High school students from all over the country will participate in this event, and YU students will serve as staff members to ensure that the event is run properly. Although there are national Model UN competitions held every year in New York and other locations, these events usually occur over Shabbat, or other Jewish holidays. Therefore, YU hosts its own Model UN competition.
However, despite its educational merits and value, I believe that Yeshiva University and the students who attend YUNMUN should reconsider their participation in this event, which is a simulation of an organization that stands directly against the interests and existence of the state of Israel.
It is evident that support for the state of Israel is one of the core values of this institution and its students. There are countless examples, such as the playing of Israel’s national anthem — Hatikvah — before every sports game held on campus, and other significant campus events like the recent Chanukah concert, and the prominent placement of Israeli flags on campus, among others. When The Commentator commissioned a poll about the political leanings of the YU student body in October of 2018, it found that 74 percent of students consider Israel to be a “very” or “extremely” important issue to them.
It is also no secret that the United Nations has an odious history of being extremely unfavorable towards the state of Israel. UN Watch, a Geneva-based non-governmental organization (NGO) that “monitors the performance of the UN by the yardstick of its own charter,” has found some staggering statistics regarding the UN’s treatment of Israel. In the 74th session of the UN General Assembly (2019-2020) there were 25 resolutions adopted, and 18 of them were critical of Israel. The other 7 were critical of Iran, Syria, Myanmar, the U.S. (for its embargo on Cuba) and two against Crimea. UN Watch also found that from 2006 through 2016, the UN Human Rights Council adopted 135 resolutions criticizing countries, of which 68 were directed against Israel. From 2012 through 2015, the United Nations General Assembly adopted 97 resolutions criticizing countries, with 83 of those resolutions being against Israel. UN Watch also notes how every year, of the approximately 10 resolutions adopted by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), all of them are directed against Israel. The only time UNESCO passed a resolution against another country was in 2013, against Syria.
UN Watch also shows that even bodies of the UN that are supposed to deal with matters unrelated to global disputes manage to pass resolutions condemning only Israel. The UN World Health Assembly, which meets for one week every year to adopt resolutions regarding global health issues, manages to pass a resolution every year condemning Israel, despite the fact that no other country has ever received condemnation. The International Labour Organization (ILO), which was established to improve working conditions, produces one country-specific report condemning Israel at its annual conference.
It is important to realize that the United Nations’ horrendous treatment of Israel is not a new phenomenon. The British historian Paul Johnson details in his book “A History Of The Jews” how President Idi Amin of Uganda sent a cable to the UN Secretary-General on Sept. 12, 1972, applauding the Holocaust. In that same cable, he also proposed to erect a statue of Adolf Hitler in Uganda, as there had not been one erected in Germany. Despite this, or as Johnson suspects, because of it, he was well received by the General Assembly. He then received a standing ovation before his speech denouncing the “Zionist-American conspiracy” and called for the expulsion of Israel from the UN and its extinction. On Nov. 10, 1975, the UN General Assembly passed resolution 3379, which condemned Zionism as a form of racism. To add insult to injury, the Israeli delegate, Chaim Herzog, pointed out that the vote had taken place on the 37th anniversary of Kristallnacht. Although the resolution was revoked sixteen years later, it should have never been passed.
The point here is not to say that Israel is impervious to criticism, or that any criticism of Israel is necessarily anti-Semitic. However, the suggestion that the only democracy in the Middle-East is worthy of more condemnation than the repressive dictatorships in Venezuela or North Korea is preposterous.
It should be noted that YUNMUN is not affiliated with the actual United Nations, and neither the university nor the students who attend YUNMUN support the UN’s hostility towards Israel. However, by attending an event that is supposed to be a simulation of the UN, YU and its students should consider if they are emulating an organization that stands counter to one of their bedrock beliefs. This should not serve as a discouragement to the students who are attending YUNMUN, but rather as a call to consider if participation in this event legitimizes the extreme, dangerous anti-Israel bias that is so rampant in the UN.
Photo caption: From 2012 through 2015, the United Nations General Assembly adopted 97 resolutions criticizing countries, with 83 of those resolutions being against Israel.
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons