Sign Up

Why Does Israel Assist Iraq?

Does the Israeli stand-off with the United Nations help Saddam Hussein?

April 26, 2002

Does the Israeli stand-off with the United Nations help Saddam Hussein?

Remember the arduous times throughout the 1990s when the United Nations was desperately trying to pry open Iraq’s secret research facilities via the UNSCOM mission? Time after time, the world was treated to the shameless spectacle of Sadddam Hussein trying to dictate terms to the United Nations about the composition of the mission. No wonder the global community was outraged.

Now fast forward to 2002 — and you find that this situation is repeating itself. Only this time, the game of leading the United Nations by the nose does not originate with Saddam Hussein.

Rather, it is Israel’s Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, who is haggling with the UN about the composition of a UN fact-finding team that is destined to examine reports of atrocities committed by the Israeli Army during its seizure of the Jenin refugee camp in April 2002.

Of course, Kofi Annan should not feel too bad about being defied by the Israeli government. After all, the presumably much mightier President of the United States, George W. Bush, has met the same fate at the hands of Ariel Sharon. His requests for an “immediate” troop withdrawal went unheeded by Israel.

Still, the international community has reason to be concerned about these Israeli stalling maneuvers. For one, it raises suspicions that the Israelis still have some “clean-up” to do concerning any potential evidence. But the major reason for concern lies elsewhere: The Israelis are creating a terrible precedent in favor of Saddam Hussein.

With their insistence on hand-picking the UN team, they give Iraq’s president the most powerful excuse when the times comes for him to revisit the issue of reinviting a UN inspection team to Iraq to head off a possible military invasion. He can pull a great stunt on the global stage, by humbly asking for the same rights that Israel insisted upon — namely to effectively handpick the UN team himself.

Ultimately, there is a deeper issue. It is amazing to see that Israel — with its proud democratic traditions — would let itself stoop so low that, on this crucial matter, it is aiming for moral equivalence with Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi dictator.

Of course you can blame us for holding Israel to a higher standard than we do Iraq. But, we confess, we always believed Israel did so as well.