I just got an email from B’Tselem, bragging that tomorrow morning Executive Director Hagai Elad will be appearing before a special session of the UN Security Council. According to the email, “This is one of the most important diplomatic opportunities in B’Tselem’s history.”
I hate to rain on B’Tselem’s parade, but this is not a particularly important diplomatic opportunity, nor is it something to brag about.
For starters, the session, called an “Arria-Formula” meeting, is not an official Security Council event. Per UN materials, Arria meetings are “very informal…held in a Conference Room, and not in the Security Council Consultation Room.” Most importantly, they “do not constitute an activity of the Council and are convened at the initiative of a member or members of the Council. Participation in such meetings is for individual members to decide upon and there have been instances when some members chose not to attend.”
And, who are the esteemed human rights stalwarts who will be convening tomorrow’s meeting? That would be Egypt, Malaysia, Venezuela, and Angola. (One might inquire as to whether B’Tselem or Elad’s previous places of employment — Association for Civil Rights in Israel and the Jerusalem Open House — would thrive in any of those countries, but I digress.)
Clearly, universal human rights is not the impetus for the meeting. In fact, at the last Arria meeting involving an Israeli NGO (Yesh Din, in that instance), the anti-Israel vitriol inspired the Venezuelan ambassador to make antisemitic remarks.
The email does, however, provide B’Tselem’s desired outcome from the meeting: “resolute international action meant to effect real change and bring an end to the occupation. The Security Council has the power and the responsibility to act.”
There is nothing B’Tselem would like more than a binding Security Council resolution that imposes unfavorable terms on Israel and satisfies B’Tselem’s political vision. This would be far easier than real human rights work, such as convincing Israelis that its political agenda is both feasible and in Israel’s best interests.
Tomorrow morning, in New York, Hagai Elad will probably stand in front of a mirror, shaving or adjusting his tie. Perhaps he should take a good, long, hard look at himself and ask: does he really want B’Tselem to do the bidding of Egypt, Malaysia, Venezuela, and Angola.