Elliot Abrams is a senior fellow for Middle East Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. This piece is reprinted with permission and can be found on Abrams' blog "Pressure Points" here.
Just over a week ago the U.N. General Assembly voted to call 2014 the "International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People." The vote was 100 for to 7 against, with 56 abstentions. This is a standard outcome in the General Assembly where Israel is concerned. The General Assembly passed an additional five resolutions about Israel, maintaining its obsessive, ridiculous, and indefensible record of attacking the Jewish state.
Who were the six countries that voted with Israel? Three were Pacific island nations: the Federated States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands and Palau. And three were (begging the pardon of those tiny island states) "real" countries: the United States, Australia, and Canada. Once upon a time Israel got some votes in Latin America but those days are past, and the EU tends to vote as a bloc most of the time and to find consensus only on abstention.
The votes of Canada and Australia are particularly worthy of note. Under Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Foreign Minister John Baird, Canada has proved to be a resolute and determined friend of Israel. Australia under Prime Ministers Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard was not, but as in Canada elections have consequences. The new prime minister, Tony Abbott, sworn in on September 28, and new Foreign Minister Julie Bishop have swung Australia back to the position of the previous conservative government of John Howard. As the newspaper The Australian editorialized:
"Tony Abbott and Julie Bishop intend to reverse the anti-Israel direction in Australia's voting pattern in U.N. resolutions that Kevin Rudd oversaw as prime minister and foreign minister, and which Bob Carr continued. This is an immensely important sign of the Coalition government's values and direction. Canberra will revert to the voting pattern established by John Howard and [Foreign Minister] Alexander Downer: less ambiguous, less apologetic, more straightforward in support of the only democracy in the Middle East."
It is shameful to see the General Assembly continuing to single out Israel for malign attention, and shameful that so many democracies choose to abstain on resolutions that merit an easy "No" vote. But Israel can be proud of the three great democracies that voted with her, as we Americans can be proud to be one of them.
From "Pressure Points" by Elliot Abrams. Reprinted with permission from the Council on Foreign Relations.