Israel, another view

Israel is a young democracy surrounded by many hostile nations.

Next week, New York will host Durban III, the United Nations conference celebrating the tenth anniversary of the World Conference against Racism. This seems like a worthwhile venture, but like so many UN programmes, it has been hijacked to attack Israel, inevitably leading to greater anti-Israel sentiment in sections of the media. In 2001, speeches were made by Robert Mugabe, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Yasser Arafat, hardly renowned for peaceful and non-discriminatory politics.

This year, western countries including Britain, Canada and the United States will boycott the event but one can see how anti-Israel bias creeps into the UN, turning an organisation initially created to further international harmony into a propaganda tool for anti-Semites and the Arab nations.

In recent years, criticism of Israel through the UN has reached a high-point but on reflection, is Israel really so bad?

The UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) has condemned Israel 39 times since its creation in 2006 - a huge 45 per cent of all UNHRC resolutions. In comparison, Syria has been condemned twice despite massacres of their own population and restrictions on freedom of speech. Egyptians may now have a chance to enjoy their human rights having finally overthrown dictator Hosni Mubarak, but where was the UNHRC during the dictator's 30 year regime?

So why has Israel been criticised so much? And why is it a permanent issue on the agenda of the UNHRC?

Let us look at the council's membership. Admittedly, Libya was removed this year after Gaddafi's human rights abuses were too much to hide but human rights are blatantly ignored in countries such as Uganda, Saudi Arabia and Qatar who still sit on the council.

It is time we started seeing these UN organisations for what they are.

African and Arab countries vote "en bloc" against Israel in order to distract attention from their own human rights abuses. This stance has even been criticised by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon decrying the "disproportionate focus on violations by Israel."

Israel is a young democracy surrounded by many hostile nations and constantly faces the threat of war and violence on its people. There are obviously times when loss of life happens and this is deplorable but it does not deserve this harsh criticism it receives at the hand of the UN.

Last week, Mehdi Hasan wrote that Israel's violation of international law is "a record for any UN member!". Undoubtedly, Israel has violated international law in the past, which is unsurprising for a country bordering territories run by terrorist organisations; as we know, in war time, not everything goes to plan. But as we can see, the facts that come out of the UN are not always objective.

The Goldstone Report, criticising Israel of abusing human rights was recently rescinded by its own author, Richard Goldstone, in an op-ed in the Washington Post. After an initially hostile reaction to the Mavi Marmara incident, the Palmer Report has found that Israel's maritime blockade of Gaza is perfectly legal and Israel Defence Forces (IDF) commandos were acting in "self-defence" despite widespread condemnation after the incident.

Just like every democracy, Israel is criticised and strives to improve, but this denigration on the world scene is not an attempt to improve the world but further political objectives.

Ukip's Nigel Farage and Paul Nuttall. Photo: Getty
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Is the general election 2017 the end of Ukip?

Ukip led the way to Brexit, but now the party is on less than 10 per cent in the polls. 

Ukip could be finished. Ukip has only ever had two MPs, but it held an outside influence on politics: without it, we’d probably never have had the EU referendum. But Brexit has turned Ukip into a single-issue party without an issue. Ukip’s sole remaining MP, Douglas Carswell, left the party in March 2017, and told Sky News’ Adam Boulton that there was “no point” to the party anymore. 

Not everyone in Ukip has given up, though: Nigel Farage told Peston on Sunday that Ukip “will survive”, and current leader Paul Nuttall will be contesting a seat this year. But Ukip is standing in fewer constituencies than last time thanks to a shortage of both money and people. Who benefits if Ukip is finished? It’s likely to be the Tories. 

Is Ukip finished? 

What are Ukip's poll ratings?

Ukip’s poll ratings peaked in June 2016 at 16 per cent. Since the leave campaign’s success, that has steadily declined so that Ukip is going into the 2017 general election on 4 per cent, according to the latest polls. If the polls can be trusted, that’s a serious collapse.

Can Ukip get anymore MPs?

In the 2015 general election Ukip contested nearly every seat and got 13 per cent of the vote, making it the third biggest party (although is only returned one MP). Now Ukip is reportedly struggling to find candidates and could stand in as few as 100 seats. Ukip leader Paul Nuttall will stand in Boston and Skegness, but both ex-leader Nigel Farage and donor Arron Banks have ruled themselves out of running this time.

How many members does Ukip have?

Ukip’s membership declined from 45,994 at the 2015 general election to 39,000 in 2016. That’s a worrying sign for any political party, which relies on grassroots memberships to put in the campaigning legwork.

What does Ukip's decline mean for Labour and the Conservatives? 

The rise of Ukip took votes from both the Conservatives and Labour, with a nationalist message that appealed to disaffected voters from both right and left. But the decline of Ukip only seems to be helping the Conservatives. Stephen Bush has written about how in Wales voting Ukip seems to have been a gateway drug for traditional Labour voters who are now backing the mainstream right; so the voters Ukip took from the Conservatives are reverting to the Conservatives, and the ones they took from Labour are transferring to the Conservatives too.

Ukip might be finished as an electoral force, but its influence on the rest of British politics will be felt for many years yet. 

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