State Department Flack Tacitly Concedes U.S. Opposition To Palestinian UNESCO Membership Stems From Protecting Israel – OpEd


Reporter Matt Lee sticks it to State Department spokesflack Victoria Nuland (who is married to neocon analyst Robert Kagan) as she argues that U.S. opposition to the Palestinian bid for UNESCO membership and our immediate defunding of that body arises from our concern for a “rise in tension” it would cause.  After Lee repeatedly asks her what “tension” the vote creates except Israeli anger, she ends the interchange charging him with mounting a “polemic.”  In other words, she has just tacitly conceded that the only reason we oppose UNESCO membership is because it pisses off the Israelis.

Among the other sophistries she tried to pass off were a claim that the membership bid would deflect from the goal of creating a Palestinian state; that the U.S. continues to support creating such a state; and that it continues to support UNESCO.

Of course, if you continue as a member of such a body after turning off 22% of its budget, you’re not going to be considered a member in good standing and your influence will decline dramatically.  This of course will hurt U.S. interests and the greater values that we’re promoting by belonging.  To say you support an organization after shutting off the spigot is a mite hypocritical.

Also, the U.S. claim that it supports a Palestinian state when it has now taken three decisively hostile votes against such a state within the UN framework (veto of the anti-settlement resolution, threatening a veto of a Security Council statehood resolution, and defunding UNESCO) are dramatic contradictions of our statements.  I’ve always believed that to know a politician’s true values you watch the way he votes, not what he says.  The same is true in international affairs.  We’ve flown our true colors today despite the white lies offered by Victoria Nuland.

U.S. policy is seriously off-track.  It is totally skewed toward Israel at a time when the rest of the world is moving in a diametrically opposite direction.  Though Obama has prided himself on a return to multilateralism in the aftermath of the fiasco of Bush era foreign policy, we are moving precisely in the direction of unilateralism in our relations with the Palestinians and Arab states supporting it.  We’ve seen the disaster that is unilateralism.  How can we return to it?  This is becoming a slow motion train wreck.  You see the train coming.  You see the eyes of the engineer and the brake handle right in front of him which he can’t or won’t grasp.  What’s going wrong?  Can’t he see disaster ahead?

This article appeared at Tikun Olam

Richard Silverstein

Richard Silverstein is an author, journalist and blogger, with articles appearing in Haaretz, the Jewish Forward, Los Angeles Times, the Guardian’s Comment Is Free, Al Jazeera English, and Alternet. His work has also been in the Seattle Times, American Conservative Magazine, Beliefnet and Tikkun Magazine, where he is on the advisory board. Check out Silverstein's blog at Tikun Olam, one of the earliest liberal Jewish blogs, which he has maintained since February, 2003.

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