SO ROUTINE are lopsided, unfair condemnations of Israel in the United Nations that new votes tend to slip by--self-devalued by precedent and barely noticed. But the latest one deserves attention. Some 86 nations condemned Israel for its law annexing the occupied Golan Heights. In narrow terms, this step was unexceptionable: the new Israeli law is a bad law. The way the General Assembly condemned it, however, was appalling.
The majority did not simply denounce the law. It called on other states "totally to isolate (Israel) in all fields," and it established a basis for a possible later move to vote Israel out of the assembly. Not the slightest acknowledgment was made of the contributions of other nations to the Arab-Israeli impasse --not least Syria, whose refusal to contemplate negotiations was the basis Israel claimed for annexing Golan. The resolution turned its back entirely on the Security Council resolutions representing the international peace-seeking consensus. A document more calculated to inflame disputes, rather than to serve the United Nations' purpose of easing them, is hard to imagine. Even the European allies voted against it.
It was especially objectionable that the United States, though unnamed, was the evident real target of what ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick called "this miserable resolution." The earlier American veto of a similarly hysterical Security Council condemnation of Israel was "strongly deplored," and general American support of Israel was "deplored," too. Keep in mind that the United States had not merely disapproved of the Golan law but had taken direct steps (reducing military cooperation and aid, bringing on a political confrontation) to give effect to its disapproval. The wolves of the assembly merely howl.
Many countries make these nasty votes against the United States and its friends and its values, and then pad around to give half-excuses and--some of them--to ask for alms. Why should the United States let them do this? The problem up there in New York is not that of an abstract "United Nations." The problem is that of specific governments, including in this instance such ostensibly friendly and moderate ones as India, Somalia, Yugoslavia, Pakistan, Indonesia, Morocco and Nigeria. We should not waste breath talking about "debasing the U.N.," which, as an institution, appears to have reached its level. We should be talking about countries that spit in the United States' eye.