Israel's Ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, is not averse to seizing opportunities for outrageous rhetoric, even at a time when countries around the world are struggling to contain the coronavirus pandemic. The UN is not immune to the consequences of the virus; several activities have been postponed as diplomats start to work remotely. Only urgent meetings are scheduled.
"Naturally," Danon told the Jerusalem Post, "when UN activity is on hold, the anti-Israel activity is on hold as well." Since there is no anti-Israeli bias of any kind within the UN, Danon is being less than honest in his claim. Was he referring to the futile condemnations and resolutions upholding international law which merely irritate Israeli diplomats who demand unquestioned support for the completion of their colonial project in occupied Palestine?
The coronavirus outbreak exposes the warped definition of "urgent" in UN terms. As exposed by Danon, albeit unwittingly, the UN thrives upon agendas of human rights violations, all of which have now been set aside to prioritise the health of its diplomats. What constitutes urgency for the UN at a time of coronavirus concern? The organisation will be considering how much of its agenda will change now that it can use the pandemic to divert attention away from the dehumanisation of the Palestinians to which it has contributed for decades.
Coronavirus Covid-19 is not stopping Israel's colonisation of Palestine. The colonial-settler state is continuing to raze ever more Palestinian land for settlement expansion in Jalud, south of Nablus. However, this has now become an activity normalised by the UN, despite its illegality.
The virus has now also reached Gaza, which could mean an even greater humanitarian catastrophe in the enclave, yet this is not urgent enough to remain a UN agenda item. Indeed, UN agendas and the preservation of human rights and dignity are irreconcilable. By UN standards, human rights violations can wait in times of a pandemic, just as they could in times of lesser global anxiety. In these moments, however, it is clear that the UN completely disregards the current chaos as an opportunity for Israel to move forward unhindered in restricting Gaza yet more and expecting further concessions from Palestinians, even as it continues with its colonial expansion.
Indeed, the UN has already normalised the spread of coronavirus among Palestinians, having "applauded" the Palestinian Authority for its handling of the cases and completely disregarding the enforced conditions within which Palestinians are expected to navigate the crisis. How will the UN react to the efforts made by Palestinians in Gaza, who face even more limitations due to the illegal blockade and the ongoing deprivation imposed by force of Israeli arms and allowed by the UN? If another symbolic round of applause is the best that the international organisation can come up with, it would do well simply to expose its agenda instead of expecting perpetual reverence from its victims.
The UN's "anti-Israel bias" is as fictitious as the rest of the pro-Israel narrative that we are expected to swallow. Such bias has never existed, contrary to what Danon and other Israeli officials have claimed; it is a key component of Israel's colonial propaganda. The pandemic thus exposes how the UN works seamlessly for Israel's benefit. Just as Palestinians have been dehumanised over many decades, the trend is set to continue as isolation gives way to further alienation. The UN during the coronavirus pandemic is as pro-Israel as ever.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.