Rather than fight statehood, Israel should support it; not punish UNESCO

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Rather than fight statehood, Israel should support it
By Ray Hanania – Israel keeps saying it supports Palestinian Statehood. But, apparently not enough to help make it happen.

The world is fast moving towards supporting Palestinian Statehood, something that should have happened long ago; the delay can be blamed on everyone. But as the statehood becomes likely, Israel and Big Brother United States are reinforcing the moral isolation that has pushed them in to a small corner.

This week, UNESCO, the organization that helps the poor across the world, voted overwhelmingly to recognize Palestine as a full member state. It is a major decision that is good for Palestinians.

But Israel is allowed to see the light and support Palestinian statehood because the fanatics have that nation in a headlock. Rather than see this for what it is, an effort by Palestinians to reinforce their own existence (as opposed to trying to undermine Israel’s existence), Israel is planning some form of retribution.

And the extremists in Israel have so much support from, of all places, the United States where the Israeli-controlled US Congress, through members like Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, compromise American foreign interests to support a foreign country.

Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen is a member of the US Congress but basically acts more like a member of the Israeli Knesset’s rightwing parties. It gets her votes in Florida and loving embraces from Israel’s far right-wingers. She is anti-American because she always puts Israel’s interests before American interests.

It’s people like Ros-Lehtinen who are fueling the conflict and the continued conflict results in more casualties, suffering and death. And, while she is undermining Middle East peace, this anti-American member of Congress is also willing to destroy an organization that has done so much for the poor around the world and including the poor in the United States.

UNESCO is driven by the moral highground of inclusiveness in order to reach those in need. It’s natural they would recognize Palestine as a member because Palestinians have so many who have been brutalized and are impoverished. And, Palestine is the heart of the Arab World, which together donates more money than the United States to support UNESCO projects.

Ros-Lehtinen has moved to suspend all American support for UNESCO, which is about 20 percent of the agency’s budget. It is such a shameful and horrible move on her part, reflecting an ugliness in her heart that goes far beyond politics. To be so uncaring about the needs of others to put your own selfish politics as a priority is one of the most disgusting things any politician can do.

But Ros-Lehtinen doesn’t care. Because she is championed in Israel where her real priorities lie.

She has proposed cutting all US aid to the United Nations efforts to help Palestinian refugees, but has pushed to provide more funds to Cuban refugees, both who have suffered since the 1950s. But Ros-Lehtinen is Cuban, which explains the hypocrisy. Her refuges matter. Others do not.

She receives more funding than most other members of Congress from AIPAC, Israel’s lobbying umbrella that punitively donates and raises funding to support any member of congress who opposes Palestinian rights.

She rammed through a bill last Fall to threaten any UN agency that recognized Palestinian rights, but has been at the forefront of pushing for Cuban rights. The United States has punished Cuba forever because of the selfishness of people like Ros-Letinen and that confrontation has preserved a cold war era conflict that should have been put to rest long ago.

Of course, her family’s religion has played a major role in her politics. They are Jewish and she converted to Catholicism. I’m not sure which is worse, someone who is Jewish who abandons their religion or someone who was Jewish feeling guilty and thereby, maybe, doing everything she can to ease her conscience about her rejection of her ancestral religious heritage (Sephardic Jews from Turkey on her mother’s side).

Whatever the reason, Ros-Lehtinen is one messed-up member of Congress with no self-respect, a black heart and a cruel streak that could only be the power to undermine funding for an organization like UNESCO that does so much good.

To place that good beneath her selfish politics is probably the most despicable thing any member of American politics can ever do.

Shame on her and shame on her constituents for closing their eyes to her dark side.

(Ray Hanania is an award winning columnist. He can be reached at www.TheMediaOasis.com.)

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Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania

RAY HANANIA — Columnist

Ray Hanania is an award winning political columnist and author. He covered Chicago Politics and Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992. Hanania began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He later published “The National Arab American Times” newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East food stores in 48 American States (2004-2007).

Hanania writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com, and at TheArabDailyNews.com, TheDailyHookah.com and at SuburbanChicagoland.com.

Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem.

Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media;In 2009, he received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. Hanania has also received two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and in 1990 was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.

His wife and son are Jewish and he performs standup comedy lampooning Arab-Jewish relations, advocating for peace based on non-violence, mutual recognition and Two-States.

His Facebook Page is Facebook.com/rghanania

Email him at: RGHanania@gmail.com

Visit this link to read Ray's column archive at the ArabNews,com ArabNews.com/taxonomy/term/10906
Ray Hanania