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According to UN Watch:

UN committees, annual UN resolutions, an entire UN bureaucratic division, permanent UN exhibits in New York and Geneva headquarters -- all dedicated to a relentless and virulent propaganda war against the Jewish state. Together, they have made the UN into Ground Zero for today's new anti-Semitism, which is the irrational scapegoating of Israel with the true intended target being Jews. Not only do these anti-Israel measures incite hatred against Israelis and Jews everywhere, but they have done not a thing to help the Palestinian situation. On the contrary: they give strength and succor to extremists.

Paradoxically, one of the greatest violators of the UN Charter's equality guarantee has been the UN body charged with establishing and enforcing international human rights, the Human Rights Council."

There's one widespread image in pro-Israel sites depicting bias in UN though I couldn't find link to Sun News video where this image was taken from:

UN bias against Israel

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8 Answers 8

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  • If the question is "is there bias", the answer is crystal clear.

    As you can see on that infographics, there is a steady stream of resolutions condemning Israel... for things that many other countries are doing that are either 100% same or MUCH worse, but who aren't condemned much or at all.

    • Yes, Israel occupied a territory as a result of winning a war. So have Russia/USSR (Kunisberg, some Japanese islands in 20th century; Chechen land in previous centuries. Or Crimea and DNR in 21rst century for that matter - zero UN resolutions on that). So have China (Tibet in 20th century. Uighur areas in previous). So have many other countries.

    • Yes, Israel uses somewhat harsh measures to deal with terrorism from Palestinians. No, it's nowhere near as harsh as Chinese use in Uighur areas or in Tibet. Or Russians in Chechnya. Or British used in Ireland. Or India in Ceylon. Neither of these ever got condemned in the UN. EVER. (Wikipedia articles on the topics are fully comprehensive, I won't bother copy/pasting the lists of atrocities, deaths, etc... here).

    • Yes, in the course of the conflict some (very few) Palestinians got killed. Again, the problem isn't condemning Israel for it. It's the fact that Russians don't get condemned for killing significantly more Chechens, or Turks or Iraqis condemned for killing of Kurds.

    • Yes, as a result of the conflict some civilians also die. Again, the problem where bias shows isn't condemning Israel. It's that NO OTHER country gets condemned for killing civilians (theirs or others') - again, China, Russia, Syria, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen.

      And this is in light of the fact that Israel's count of civilians killed is 10s per year whereas other countries is between hundreds and tens of thousands. Examples:

      Another sign of the bias - NONE of the condemnations pay ANY attention to the fact that the main fault for civilian casualties by Israel is that the militant parties (aka terrorists) deliberately fort themselves up in living areas, use children as human shields, build military objects IN schools etc... - in direct violation of Geneva convention.

    • Yes, there is some MINOR discrimination of Arabs in Israel. And I mean MINOR. There are Arab parties represented in parliament. Arab ministers in government. You know what never gets condemned? That Jews aren't even allowed to enter Saudi Arabia or many other Arab countries.


  • The bias against Israel in UN can be explained by 6 factors:

    1. UN is strongly dominated by Arab and non-Arab-Muslim countries.

      There are 20+ Arab countries (source: Wikipedia and about.com).

      There are 50 Muslim-majority countries (source).

      They are not a majority, but they are one of the biggest blocks.

      Those countries range from "We actively want to destroy Israel" - up to and including launching war against the country - to "Our population hates Israel so we must play up that sentiment in public setting" (Saudi Arabia has a fairly productive relationship with Israel behind the scenes for a long time. Publicly they are pretty tough on Israel)

    2. UN also has a strong block of countries that dislike USA to varying degree (what used to be called 3rd world block).

      Israel, as US's main point country in Middle East, easily gets singled out for the dislike by them (especially since those countries ALSO fall in the category #3).

    3. There is likely a majority of left-wing countries in the world, depending on how you define left wing.

      Modern left-wing is strongly anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian, on general principle that anyone who's "oppressed" (and/or weaker) is a good guy. This is the same philosophical principle by which left wing is more sympathetic to convicted murderers than the victims killed by said murderers; or to urban gangsters who beat up people (I don't have a link now but there was an official statement from NYC politician that when a gang of African Americans severely beat up a Jewish kid in Brooklyn, it was justified because they felt threatened by Jews' prosperity).

    4. To top that off, large chunks of the world are very antisemitic historically. Christian countries in Europe; majority of Spanish-influenced countries in Latin America.

    5. Even the countries that don't have a reason to be anti-Israel, can be pushed to be, because of realpolitik.

      • Arab world controls a large supply of oil. This was effectively demonstrated to the world during 1970s oil embargo; but the story goes back to British deciding to throw their support to Arabs at the expense of Jews.

      • Muslims are 23.4% of the world population and as noted at least 25% of UN membership. It's a lot more prudent to support their interests and point of view (or at least not to oppose them) than Israel, which generally has only 3 reliable votes (Israel, USA and Canada) and 0.2% of the population.

    6. It's a lot more dangerous to support Israel than Palestinians. If you come out against Israel, you won't have people organizing terrorist acts against your country and citizens.

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    Very detailed response. +1 As an aside, reading this made me ask myself - how many countries are there that are truly pro-Israel (considering all those anti-Israel blocks you mentioned)?
    – Avestron
    May 30, 2014 at 15:19
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    This doesn't answer the question. This answer assumes that there is bias and try to explain why. But it hasn't established that there is bias in the first place, and that is exactly what the question asked. Same thing happens with Ryathal answer, really.
    – Pablo
    May 30, 2014 at 16:14
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    @Pablo - seriously? Establishing that Arab countries are biased against Israel needs proof? What's next I need proof that 1+1=2?
    – user4012
    May 30, 2014 at 18:06
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    this is an unsourced, purely opinionated answer. it's clearly written to appease a particular viewpoint...is this what you guys really want from a politics SE?
    – worc
    May 30, 2014 at 18:14
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    I thought the answer was excellent. I was unconvinced by the infographic, because my first impression was that Israel is a developed country and persuadable through diplomacy, thus it has a lot of resolutions made against it quite obviously. Making resolutions against a third world tin pot dictator doesn't do much good. But I found this answer convincing. Good job.
    – Razie Mah
    Jun 2, 2014 at 14:56
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Much of the anti-Israel sentiment is from the UN human rights council, which is probably one of the most hypocritical entities to ever exist. The UN is biased against Israel because there are a lot of countries that are members that have pledged or are OK with Israel being wiped off the map. Media bias for or against Israel tends to follow the political slant of that company.

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    Agree with that. UN human rights council is embarassment to organization that views itself as champion of human rights worldwide.
    – Democrat
    May 30, 2014 at 15:44
  • I removed the link because it now seems to redirect to some shady website. Feel free to edit if you can find the original blog somewhere.
    – JJJ
    Nov 26, 2023 at 2:13
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It's hard to say if there's bias; the UN would most probably say there isn't, and Israel would most definitely claim there is. Their relationship has been rather difficult in the past, including an event in which Israel blew up a UN observation post killing four unarmed peacekeepers - possibly by mistake, possibly not.

I've seen a documentary (that I unfortunately can't now find so I could link to it) where they said that children in Israel are taught in schools that everyone in the whole world hates them, and they grow up believing that. The same thing seems to be happening (allegedly) in Russia nowadays, where everything that doesn't fit the state's official stance on things is deemed western propaganda. Then again, both of these claims might really be exactly that.

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    Bombing was clear an error of IDF. What's the point in attacking UN post? Escalation of violence is least thing they need.
    – Democrat
    May 30, 2014 at 19:09
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    Also would be great to know the name of documentary. As far as I know it's only Palestinian schools that teach hate and violence to their kids youtube.com/watch?v=Bra53uzgPDk
    – Democrat
    May 30, 2014 at 19:16
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    "It's hard to say if there's bias" - no it isn't. If you do a negative action against group A 20x more often than group B in identical circumstances, it's crystal clear there is bias.
    – user4012
    May 30, 2014 at 19:31
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    @DVK, I wrote "it's hard to say" because I really don't know. That resolution count definitely points that way. Then again, I sometimes get the feeling that whenever one suggests that there ever might be a possibility that Israel has (deliberately) done something wrong, they immediately get that "anti-semite" stamp on their forehead. Also, you're right about Russia being attacked several times in history. On the other hand, people in e.g. Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Ukraine and Czech Republic might disagree on your view that Russia (or Soviet Union back then) was the one being invaded...
    – C.B.
    May 30, 2014 at 19:49
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    @C.B. - "Why" is answered in the second half. Mostly Arab/Muslim world (which isn't identical). And they started the hasslin' WAY WAY before any of the issues they started as an excuse. Hebron was a Jewish city before Palestinians started a pogrom in 1928
    – user4012
    May 31, 2014 at 11:19
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There definitely is in the UN, as you pointed out - the UN devotes an inordinate amount of time decrying Israeli 'war crimes', when even if Israel was committing war crimes, many more countries are committing far worse crimes. For example:

  • North Korea has concentration camps full of dissidents (and their extended family)
  • China has millions of Uighur Muslims in concentration camps
  • Belarus violently suppresses any anti-gov't protests
  • The Taliban (a terrorist group) are killing anyone they want in Afghanistan

If you look at the recent Russia-Ukraine war, we are now months in to civilians being bombed/executed by the Russians, and the UN isn't doing much. Meanwhile if Israel launches targeted strikes in response to the terror groups in Gaza (who were democratically elected by the residents) launching hundreds or thousands of rockets into Israeli cities, the UN makes a huge deal.

In regards to the media, it depends on the outlet. BBC, for example, is - I remember seeing a headline approximating to 'Man in West Bank dies as rocks pelt his car', ignoring the fact that the rocks were thrown by Palestinians. They'll also have headlines after a terror attack such as 'Three Palestinians killed after deadly stabbing in Jerusalem', leaving out that the 3 Palestinians killed were the terrorists, who killed 1 person and injured 4. They'll also report on the civilian casualties in Gaza after Israeli airstrikes in Gaza, especially when children are injured/killed, leaving out the fact that the civilians were killed by rockets launched by the terror groups, which fell into Gaza and not Israel (it is not an uncommon occurrence for Gaza to lose power for days due to terror group rockets landing on the power lines going from Israel to Gaza, and then the Israeli company is unable to fix the lines because they get shot at by snipers when they arrive to fix them. And these are just misrepresentations, not even the blatant lies that are made up, such as when there was a whole outcry due to a story about Israel opening up dams that were going to flood Gaza - until everyone figured out that Israel had no dams capable of doing that.

Check out these links:

The Reuters reporter who doctored photos of the Israel-Lebanon war

CAMERA - exposes media bias

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  • Targeted strikes where civilian apartments are lying on their sides?
    – alamar
    Nov 25, 2023 at 9:01
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One possible reason is that Israel think of itself and other countries recognize it as liberal democracy and civilized country. All other listed countries are not (and not even try to pretend they are or at least a lot of other countries doesn't recognize them as such. So Israel is kept to much higher standard.

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  • And so USA were regarded that way for more than 100 of years, that didn't prevented them blew up Nagasaki and Hiroshima in atomic bomb after the Pearl Harbor strike. Compare to that, what Israel does is mercy.
    – USerNAme
    Nov 26, 2023 at 2:48
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It is enlightening to understand the two opposite views on this topic:

  • On the one hand, there is evidence that the UN spends a lot of time and energy focusing on Israel/Palestine, with many reports and resolutions criticizing Israel. It is true that Israel is criticized more often than any other country at the UN. In this sense, the UN is biased against Israel.
  • On the other hand, Israel/Palestine is by far the oldest unsolved conflict still active in the world. This can explain why it is the focus of so much activity, since the UN is meant to try and solve conflicts.

The UN is powerless in the Israel/Palestine conflict because the regular rules are not applied to this specific conflict:

  • For better or worse, Israel defines itself as the Jewish nation. Moreover, the Holocaust provided a strong justification to the state of Israel from the point of view of Western countries, and a reason for many Jewish people to emigrate. But this point of view is not shared in the Middle-East, where most people see Israel as a Western invader colonizing Muslim land, some of it holy (Jerusalem). As a result, it's often hard to distinguish between democratic criticism of Israel and antisemitism. Finally, the religious nature of the conflict makes it very hard for the two parties to compromise.
  • The right of a people to self-determination is not applied. After WW2, colonizing countries (mostly the UK and France) had to leave their colonies after the inhabitants chose independence. The colonizer often still had military control of their colonies, but it became simply unacceptable to occupy a territory by force. Israel still occupies territories conquered by force, even though this is not accepted by the international community.
  • The US (and sometimes other Western countries) protect Israel against any international action. Usually countries which don't accept the international rules are isolated and sanctioned at least economically (e.g. North Korea, Iran, recently Russia), but Israel is allowed to flout the international consensus.

To sum up, Israel has done what many countries have done before: militarily conquer territories and colonize them progressively. But since WW2 the United Nations apply human rights principles which prohibit this. As a recent country created under the old world order, Israel is either victim of unfair treatment by the UN according to the old world order, or guilty of breaching human rights according to the new world order.

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That's a very good point.Roughly statistically speaking there is indeed a bias. Now to explain it isn't too easy. It could be that apart the U.S, Israel has in fact very few allies - in fact probably zero allies - and at the opposite most other countries are involved in alliances and geopolitical local dynamics that makes hard to find a consensus to condemn them.

eg: Israel is alone and isolated and so at the U.N everybody agree to condemn them.

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  • Israel? Isolated? US mostly support them. They have rather decent relations with Russia (which becomes worse after they started to support Ukraine more but still good).
    – Tauri
    Nov 25, 2023 at 8:44
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    @Tauri OP said besides the US. You blind or something?
    – IraeVid
    Nov 26, 2023 at 7:56
  • @IraeVid, besides US? Russa, check last Russia's suggestions at UN. Yes, Russia's position is more towards neutral than US's but it's pro-Israel as far as I understood.
    – Tauri
    Nov 27, 2023 at 2:57
  • Eh read the third sentence again.
    – IraeVid
    Nov 27, 2023 at 3:23
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Certainly, Israel believe it is unfairly treated at the UN. In 2023 Israel's Security Council (SC) representative wore the same kind of yellow badge the Nazis forced Jews to wear during the Holocaust:

enter image description here

Implication being that the supposed UN discrimination his country faces at the UN would be caused by antisemitism. This is far from the first time the UN has been accused of bias. History is full of examples. Thomas M. Franck wrote in 1985:

no indictment of the U.N. has been made more frequently or with greater vehemence than that it singles out Western and pro-Western states for obloquy, while ignoring far worse excesses committed by socialist and Third World nations.

In 2022 Indonesia branded the UN "biased" after experts highlighted "Shocking Abuses" in Indonesia's Papua region. South Africa in the 1960s and 1970s repeatedly accused the UN of bias when it highlighted the state's discriminatory Apartheid system. And in 1933, Japan felt so mistreated - after the League of Nations voted 42-1 to condemn Japanse aggression in Manchuria - that it renounced its membership in protest.

According to legal scholar Noura Erakat, the disproportionate amount of attention the Question of Palestine gets is because all other cases of colonialism has been resolved:

Rather it reflects the fact that of all cases of colonialism that have occupied the attention of the League of Nations since 1920 and the UN since its establishment in 1945, Palestine is the single outstanding case to actually not achieve its self-determination. [...] The only way to stand by a statement that the UN is biased against Israel is to occlude this history and elide the fact that Israel is a colonial power that today singles itself out by its insistence that it remains above the law and an exception to the norm of decolonization and independence.

Thus, Palestine is the exception to an otherwise post-colonial world order.

According to professor Richard Falk claiming anti-Israel bias is a deliberate tactic used by Israel:

It [Israel] both pretends to be victimized by the organization, and yet because of its relationship to the U.S. and its clever use of these tactics, it intimidates the organization more than any other government however large or small, [...]

Rather than being biased [against Israel, the United Nations] leans over backward in every particular context to make sure that Israel’s best arguments are made fully available and given as much attention as possible. In other words, the reality is just the opposite of the perception in this country. If anything, the organization could be criticized as being indifferent to the Palestinian reality and biased toward not offending Israel.

Furthermore, it should be noted that the SC, which can hardly be accused of anti-Israel bias, is vastly more powerful than all other UN bodies. The huff and puff of the Human Rights Council carries little weight in comparison to the SC who, to date, has not subjected Israel of a single punitive measure. Israel has not been subjected to sanctions or embargoes and no Israeli political or military leader has been added to the SCs sanctions list. Contrast that to its authorization of the 1990 Iraq war, the subsequent (for Iraq) catastrophic sanctions regime, its isolation of Iran, and its repeated condemnations of North Korea. The latter two for attempting to develop nuclear weapons, something Israel already have.

Sources

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    Just addressing the last point: How many times has the SC tried to pass something to sanction/etc Israel and had it vetoed by the US? Having a single ally with veto power protecting Israel against sanctions means that the lack of action doesn't provide a convincing argument that the body as a whole isn't biased - it just that they're ineffective in turning any bias they might have into anything concrete.
    – Bobson
    Nov 26, 2023 at 10:54
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    Keep in mind though the UN apparently never declared Israel to be a colonizer. politics.stackexchange.com/questions/82503/… Nov 26, 2023 at 12:31
  • @Bobson This page lists all vetoes since the founding of the UN. Due to the US diplomatic umbrella there is 0% chance of any resolution containing sanctions to be passed, but see the answers to this question too politics.stackexchange.com/questions/82675/… Nov 26, 2023 at 17:12
  • All this answer seems to do is cherry pick data and claim no bias. An answer to discredit bias should show that Israel's actions aren't condemned at a lower level than other countries committing similar violence. To be clear a bias may be down to effectiveness rather than dislike per se, along the lines of "Israel is more likely to have politicians or at least citizens who will listen to us than (for example) China, so condemning them may actually have an impact" Nov 27, 2023 at 14:30

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