Israel’s UN Ambassador Gilad Erdan Does World a Favor by Making Plain Israel’s Doomed-to-Fail Strategy

PALESTINE - ISRAEL, 20 May 2024

Jeffrey D. Sachs – TRANSCEND Media Service

Gilad Erdan, Israel’s ambassador to the UN, puts a copy of the U.N. Charter through a paper shredder on 10 May 2024.  (Photo: Charly Triballeau/AFP via Getty Images)

Likud’s tactical approach relies entirely on the U.S. for Israel’s security, as the sole blocking force in a world community that is increasingly united and aghast at massive Israeli war crimes. How much longer can they carry on this way?

14 May 2024 – We owe an ironic debt of gratitude to Israel’s UN Ambassador Gilad Erdan for advancing the cause of the State of Palestine at the United Nations. By delivering a speech to the UN General Assembly that was so unhinged, absurd, vulgar, insulting, undignified, and undiplomatic, Erdan helped to secure a lopsided vote of 143 to 9 in favor of Palestine’s UN membership (the rest abstained or did not vote). But more than that, Erdan helped to clarify Israel’s tactical approach—and why it is doomed to fail.

Let us briefly consider the content of Erdan’s speech. Erdan claimed, in short, that Palestine equals Hamas and Hamas equals Hitler’s Nazi Reich. Erdan told the UN delegates that their nations support a state of Palestine because “so many of you are Jew-hating.” He then shredded the UN Charter at the podium, claiming that the delegates were doing the same by voting for Palestine’s UN membership. All the while, on the very same day as his speech and UN vote, Israel was amassing its forces for yet more slaughter of innocent civilians in Rafah.

Erdan’s rant rose to the level of venomous hatred and absurdity. Palestine would enter the UN as a peace-loving state, a commitment stated firmly and eloquently by the Palestinian Ambassador to the UN, Riyad Mansour (here at 23:44). “We want peace,” Ambassador Mansour declared unequivocally. Moreover, the two-state solution will of course not happen in a diplomatic vacuum. According to the Arab Peace Initiative of 2002, and reaffirmed by the Arab and Islamic countries in Riyadh last November, the Arab and Islamic countries have repeatedly pledged to support peace and the normalization of relations with Israel as part of the two-state solution.

Contrary to Erdan’s slander, the governments of UN General Assembly are of course not Jew-haters. Rather, they detest the Israeli government’s assault in Gaza, a carnage so vast that Israel is in the dock at the International Court of Justice on the charge of genocide. The same false charge has been made against student protestors who aren’t anti-Jewish but rather anti-Apartheid and anti-genocide.

The question then is what Erdan was actually doing making a speech that was so over-the-top that it could only serve to bolster, not reduce, the overwhelming worldwide vote for Palestine. Of course, he was doing what all politicians do in the social media age. He was grandstanding for his adoring 157K followers on X (formerly Twitter) and for supporters in Israel’s right-wing Likud Party.

Contrary to Erdan’s slander, the governments of UN General Assembly are of course not Jew-haters. Rather, they detest the Israeli government’s assault in Gaza, a carnage so vast that Israel is in the dock at the International Court of Justice on the charge of genocide.

At first, when listening to Erdan, I simply thought that the man was deranged, suffering from post-Holocaust trauma and seeing a Hitler lurking in every shadow. Yet such a view is naïve. Erdan is a highly experienced political figure, well-educated and well trained, and was in full control of a carefully prepared speech (which included a poster and shredder as props). My initial mistake was to think he was speaking to the rest of the UN ambassadors and to viewers of the proceedings such as myself.

The great difference of broadcast-era politics of yesteryear and the social-media era politics of today is that politicians no longer speak to the broad public. They now communicate almost entirely with their base and “near base.” Each person today receives a personalized flow of “news” that is jointly constructed by individual choices (which websites we visit), networks of digital “followers,” algorithms of platforms such as Facebook, X and TikTok, and hidden forcers that include the Intelligence agencies, government propagandists, corporations, and political operatives. As a result, politicians mobilize and motivate their base, and little beyond.

Erdan the politician, and his Likud party, have been fighting against Palestinians for far longer than Hamas has dominated the politics of Gaza, indeed for longer than Hamas has existed. Erdan grew up inside the party, from its youth wing onward, in a movement that has always stood stridently against a Palestinian state and the two-state solution. In fact, Likud has long treated Hamas as a political prop, a ploy to divide the Palestinians and thereby to fend off international calls for the two-state solution. As even the Israeli media report, Likud leaders worked with Arab nations over the years to keep Hamas funded, so that it would pose a continuing competition to the Palestinian authority.

On the one side, American voters, especially young American voters, are aghast at Israel’s brutality. On the other side, America’s geopolitical position is crumbling.

What, then, is Likud’s strategy as Israel increasingly isolates itself from the rest of the world? Here too, Erdan’s own political past ploys offer a clue. Erdan has been one of the Israel’s shrewdest and most successful politicians in building Likud’s alliance not only with the wealthy America’s Jewish community but with America’s Christian Evangelical community as well. The Christian Zionists ardently back Israel’s control over the Holy Land, albeit as a prelude to their Armageddon, not exactly Likud’s longer-term agenda.

Likud’s tactical belief is that the US will always be there, thick or thin, because the Israel Lobby (Jewish and Christian Evangelical alike) and the US military-industrial complex will always be there. Likud’s bet has always worked in the past and they believe it will work in the future. Yes, Israel’s violent extremism will cost Biden the support of America’s young voters, but if so, that will just mean Trump’s election in November, so even better for Likud.

Likud’s strategy relies entirely on the U.S. for Israel’s security, as the sole blocking force in a world community that is increasingly united and aghast at Israel’s massive war crimes, and in favor of imposing the two-state solution on an utterly recalcitrant Israel. Yet U.S. core interests—economic, financial, commercial, diplomatic, and military—are at odds with becoming isolated with Israel within the international system.

The Israel lobby will be hit by a pincer movement. On the one side, American voters, especially young American voters, are aghast at Israel’s brutality. On the other side, America’s geopolitical position is crumbling. Shortly, many European countries, including Spain, Ireland, and Norway, are expected to recognize Palestine and welcome its U.N. membership. Erdan may end up at the top of the heap of the Likud party, but Likud and its extremist and violent partners in the coalition are likely soon to hit the limits of their arrogance, violence, and cruelty.

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Jeffrey D. Sachs, Professor of Sustainable Development and Professor of Health Policy and Management at Columbia University, is Director of Columbia’s Center for Sustainable Development and the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network. He has served as Special Adviser to three UN Secretaries-General [Kofi Annan (2001-7), Ban Ki-moon (2008-16), and currently serves as an SDG Advocate under Secretary-General António Guterres. His books include The End of Poverty, Common Wealth, The Age of Sustainable Development, Building the New American Economy, and most recently, A New Foreign Policy: Beyond American Exceptionalism. Sachs was also an advisor to the last leader of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, as well as to the first president of the Russian Federation, Boris Yeltsin.


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This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 20 May 2024.

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One Response to “Israel’s UN Ambassador Gilad Erdan Does World a Favor by Making Plain Israel’s Doomed-to-Fail Strategy”

  1. Klaus Schlichtmann says:

    Dear Jeffrey Sachs. I always enjoyed listening to your thoughtful and well informed talks! Please check this out:
    Q&A ChatGPT (tested)
    I tested ChatGPT and found it to be absolutely trustworthy and provide amazing results and insights. I found that to achieve optimal results all depends on how the question is worded, how detailed it is, and how much the questioner already knows about a particular topic. The following are some examples. This list has also been published in its entirety on Johan Galtung’s Transcend Media Service platform (TMS). https://www.transcend.org/tms/2024/05/peace-war-and-consciousness-2/ (including my colleague Robert Kowalczyk’s wonderful philosophical introduction)
    For this edition I have changed the order and listed the 4 questions first, followed by the 4 answers. Otherwise the text, including my comments (now printed in italics), is identical to the published version:
    Q1: In 1949 the US Congress passed a Resolution calling for the development of the United Nations into a world federation. Did they know that the new West-German Constitution provided for a means to start the process?
    Q2: How did the preference of NATO and the failure to confer primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security on the UN endanger the peace of the world?
    Q3: The UN Charter in Article 106 provides for the transition from the present state where all nations are armed to a state where nations have disarmed to the minimum stipulated in Article 26. It was assumed that, once it was initiated, the transition could take about 5 years. In these five years nations one by one would have to confer primary responsibility for the maintenance of International peace and security “by law” on the UN Security Council to start the process and define its policing powers.
    Q4: Can artificial intelligence be used for peace, finding existing laws and legal solutions which the UN-Charter and national constitutions propose, but which have not yet been implemented?
    A1: In 1949, the U.S. Congress passed a resolution advocating for the development of the United Nations into a world federation, emphasizing the need for stronger international cooperation and governance structures to ensure peace and stability. This resolution, known as Senate Concurrent Resolution 56, reflected the aspirations for a more unified global order in the aftermath of World War II.
    Regarding the new West German Constitution (the Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany), which came into effect in May 1949, it included a provision that allowed for the possibility of transferring sovereign powers to international institutions. Article 24 of the Basic Law states that Germany may transfer sovereign powers to international organizations, a provision intended to facilitate Germany’s integration into international and supranational structures.
    It is likely that U.S. lawmakers were aware of this provision in the West German Constitution, as the drafting of the Basic Law was a significant international event, and its content was closely monitored by the Allied powers, including the United States. The inclusion of such a provision in the Basic Law would have been seen as aligning with broader efforts to promote international cooperation and governance, as advocated by the U.S. Congress in their resolution. Thus, the development of the United Nations into a world federation would have been consistent with the provisions of the new West German Constitution, which allowed for the transfer of sovereign powers to international bodies.
    In this way, the UN security system (collective/common security) would be implemented. The German diplomat Ernst von Weizsäcker (1882-1951) agreed. In 1950, Russia proposed Security Council Resolution 85, tabled by Andrei Gromyko, aiming to implement Article 106 of the UN Charter to achieve genuine UN collective security to be able to adequately address the conflict in Korea. When this was rejected and the United States acted unilaterally, the USSR changed sides. And in May 1953 Great Britain wanted to pass a resolution similar to the American one and with practically the same wording: “In the opinion of this House, it should be a fundamental object of the foreign policy of Her Majesty’s Government to support and strengthen the United Nations. and to strive for its development into a world federation…” But it was too late, a military NATO was already on its way and preferred.
    A2: The preference for NATO over the United Nations and the failure to confer primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security on the UN had several implications that could potentially endanger the peace of the world:
    1. Bypassing the UN framework: By prioritizing NATO as a security alliance over the United Nations, there was a risk of bypassing the established international framework for collective security. The UN was created with the primary goal of maintaining international peace and security through multilateral cooperation and diplomacy. Neglecting the UN’s role in favor of regional military alliances like NATO could weaken the effectiveness of global efforts to prevent conflicts and promote peaceful resolutions.
    2. Undermining international cooperation: Overreliance on military alliances like NATO at the expense of the UN could undermine broader international cooperation and consensus-building. The UN serves as a platform for dialogue among nations and a forum for addressing global challenges through diplomacy and peaceful means. By marginalizing the UN’s role in maintaining peace and security, there is a risk of diminishing the importance of international cooperation and diplomacy in resolving conflicts.
    3. Heightened tensions and conflicts: Depending heavily on military alliances like NATO without strong backing from the UN could potentially exacerbate tensions and conflicts in regions where different alliances and interests intersect. Regional military alliances may have their own specific agendas and priorities, which could lead to diverging approaches to conflict resolution and peacekeeping. This lack of unified international action under the auspices of the UN could contribute to increased instability and the escalation of conflicts.
    4. Erosion of the UN’s authority: Failure to confer primary responsibility for maintaining international peace and security on the UN could erode the authority and credibility of the organization as the preeminent global body tasked with promoting peace and security. If powerful nations prioritize regional alliances over the UN, it may weaken the UN’s ability to fulfil its mandate and address global security challenges effectively.
    In conclusion, the preference for NATO over the UN and the failure to uphold the UN’s central role in maintaining international peace and security could undermine global stability, weaken international cooperation, increase the risk of conflicts, and erode the authority of the United Nations as the cornerstone of the international system for peace and security.
    Since the general public knows little about the intricacies and the possibilities which the UN Charter offers, the following question will be of interest:
    A3: Article 106 of the UN Charter indeed outlines a provision for the transition from a state where nations are armed to a state where nations have disarmed to the minimum stipulated in Article 26. This transition was assumed to take approximately five years, during which nations would confer primary responsibility for maintaining international peace and security “by law” on the UN Security Council. This would entail defining the Council’s policing powers to initiate and oversee the disarmament process.
    Furthermore, Article 106 also states that the Security Council may also call upon member states to assist in the enforcement of its decisions, including the use of armed force if necessary. This provision underscores the importance of member states’ cooperation in achieving global disarmament and maintaining international peace and security.
    It is clear from Article 106 that the United Nations recognizes the need for a structured and coordinated approach to disarmament in order to prevent conflicts and promote peace. By giving the Security Council the authority to oversee and enforce the disarmament process, the UN aims to ensure that nations adhere to their commitments and obligations to reduce their military capabilities.
    In conclusion, Article 106 of the UN Charter provides a framework for the gradual transition towards global disarmament and the maintenance of international peace and security. By upholding the principles outlined in this provision, member states can work together to create a safer and more peaceful world for future generations.
    A priority for all UN-Member states, according to a 1968 General Assembly Resolution, should have been the “Teaching in schools of the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations…”
    If politicians do not take measures to educate their public about peace and how the UN works, and if they are incapable of organizing peace in a meaningful way, perhaps A.I. can help! Here is another Q&A, using ChatGPT 3.5, that points in the right direction:
    A4: Yes, AI can be utilized to analyze vast amounts of legal data from the United Nations Charter, national constitutions, and related legal documents to identify existing laws and provisions that have not been fully implemented. By employing natural language processing and machine learning algorithms, AI systems can sift through legal texts, identify discrepancies, and suggest potential solutions. However, the implementation of these solutions would still require human oversight and decision-making, considering the complexities of legal and political contexts.
    Interestingly, the UNO supports the use of AI for peaceful purposes, including achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). On July 18, 2023 the UN held the first Security Council Meeting focussing on ‘Opportunities and Risks for International Peace and Security’, regarding AI. The event has been recorded. A two-hours video is available at https://webtv.un.org/en/asset/k1j/k1ji81po8p.
    At the Meeting António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, compared AI to the invention of the printing press, observing that—while it took more than 50 years for printed books to become widely available across Europe— “ChatGPT reached 100 million users in just two months.”
    Among others, Zeng Yi, Professor and Director of International Research Center for AI Ethics and Governance, Institute of Automation, Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, at the Meeting suggested to use “AI for Biodiversity, Climate Actions and AI for Peace,” saying: “As an essential pillar of SDGs, we should push AI forward for international peace, and reduce, not enhance, security and safety risks.” Zeng Yi also suggested that “the UN Security Council consider the possibility of having a working group on AI for peace and security … The United Nations must play a central role to set up a framework on AI development and governance, to ensure global peace and security.”
    The best approach, António Guterres said, would be to address existing challenges while also creating capacity to respond to future risks. He underlined the need to “work together for AI that bridges social, digital and economic divides—not one that pushes us further apart.”
    Dr. Klaus Schlichtmann (peace historian)

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