Last week the United Nations General Assembly held its annual series of votes on Palestine/Israel. Eight resolutions were considered and all were adopted – most by overwhelming margins.
New Zealand voted for seven of the resolutions and abstained on one.
These resolutions get little media attention aside from ripples caused by Canada this year, which after 10 years of voting against establishing a Palestinian state, changed its vote to yes because it is lobbying for a seat on the UN Security Council. They want to be seen with the majority of humanity for the next couple of years at least.
Besides the predictable opposition to these resolutions from the US and Israel the surprise for many was Micronesia, Nauru and the Marshall Islands voting against most resolutions while Vanuatu abstained on them all. These countries are more easily “leaned-on” by the big powers than most others but they are now subject to an Israeli campaign – Pacific Israeli Rim – which is offering development money in return for Pacific countries voting with them at the United Nations.
Pacific Island Rim (PIR) was announced in August 2018 by the Israeli Ambassador to Pacific Island Countries, H.E. Tibor S. Schlosser. A PIR Facebook page for Pacific Israel Rim describes it as “an alliance that the Israeli Government wants to form with the Governments in the Pacific Island Nations….” and one of the aims is quite specific:
“This alliance could one day unite the Pacific to vote as one with Israel inside the UN”
The alliance claims to have supporters in the Cook Islands; Papua New Guinea; Samoa; Federated States of Micronesia; Fiji Islands; Kingdom of Tonga; Solomon Islands; Kiribati; Republic of the Marshall Islands; Nauru; Niue; Palau and Tuvalu.
There is a good crop of potential United Nations votes there.
They are calling for Pacific peoples to “identify the political party and politician who supports Israel in your nation” and “vote them into power”.
Regarding investment, Pacific Israel Rim says –
“Israeli investors will surely be attracted to the Pacific as well as the Jewish investors in the diaspora (Jews living outside Israel). Israeli companies will take interest in the Pacific & we all know Jews can create a lot of wealth where there seems to be no wealth as they’ve proven in farming the deserts of the Holy Land & exporting their agricultural produce to greener countries in Europe”
This is a much-debunked Israeli propaganda narrative which also feeds negative, racist stereotypes of Jews common in anti-Semitic views. But then PIR goes on…
“Israel is a land with no natural resources when it was founded but the Jews have turned it into an economic powerhouse with Israel’s GDP per-Capita surpassing Japan in 2018 and surpassing many Arab & anti-Israel countries around the globe”
Another Israeli propaganda narrative is at work there but most concerning is the deliberate play on the strong Christian values of many Pacific peoples.
Pacific Israel Rim talks about an alliance “between the Holy Land of Israel and the Beautiful People of the Pacific” as being “prophetic”.
“It will be an Alliance of Biblical & Prophetic proportions between the People of Moses & the Children of the Pacific living at the ends of the Earth (from Jerusalem).”
The Greatest Reward will come from the God of Israel, Maker of Heaven and Earth who said, “I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on Earth will be blessed through you.” Genesis 12: 3
This appeal using Old Testament Christian writings is cynical, political expediency.
Having themselves been the victims of colonisation, the indigenous people of the Pacific are being invited to support the colonisers of Palestine.
One of the many ironies is that most Israelis are not religious. As Jewish academic Ilan Pappe says “most Zionists don’t believe that God exists, but they do believe he promised them Palestine”.
Pacific people have enough problems navigating the big powers in their region without having to deal with this cynical Israeli push in the Pacific.
Meanwhile the annual United Nations votes on Palestine/Israel are important signals of international feeling but they are ineffective when the US consistently vetoes Security Council resolutions and the rest of the world turns a blind eye to the dispossession and brutal oppression of Palestinians.
The challenge for the people of the world is to turn these UN resolutions into meaningful action in the face of cowardly government inaction.