Though that country is situated in the Middle East, it is not one of the failed or failing states whose roiling violence is sending refugees fleeing to Europe. Nor is it one of the many dictatorships that oppress the entirety of its population, with a particular emphasis on arcane laws and rules that women must follow or face harsh punishments. There are plenty of good candidates for extra scrutiny on these issues in the Middle East, but CSW has chosen to focus, as it does every year, on Israel, the sole democratic state in the region that guarantees gender equality.
I point out the human rights records of other Middle East countries to illustrate the sheer absurdity of the situation, but Israel’s neighbors provide a low bar to pass. The truth is that on the issue of gender equality, Israel stands at or above its Western democratic peers. Israel was one of the first countries in the world to elect a female leader, Golda Meir. Dorit Beinisch was president of Israel’s Supreme Court of Justice. Women are serving as pilots in Israel’s air force and are securing Israel’s borders in combat roles in co-ed units. Women are making important contributions to Israel’s high-tech, cultural and medical fields. And Israel, in turn, is flourishing because of the freedom enjoyed by all citizens: Jews and Arabs, men and women, religious and secular, LGBT and straight. Of course, there are still many issues of inequality and discrimination and domestic violence that need to be addressed, as there are in every society. Israeli NGOs and a lively and free press, however, can be counted upon to hold the government accountable to continue to push for progress.
The singling-out of Israel at CSW is a symptom of the problem: the unending anti-Israel obsession at the U.N. This obsession produces dozens of General Assembly and Human Rights Council (HRC) resolutions yearly (compared to maybe a handful for the most egregious of abusive countries), an agenda item at the HRC dedicated solely for Israel and another one for all other countries.
"The Commission on the Status of Women plays a vital role on many important issues, and it is distressing to see the agenda hijacked to unfairly attack Israel, but this, unfortunately, is par for the course at the U.N."
CSW plays a vital role on many important issues, and it is distressing to see the agenda hijacked to unfairly attack Israel, but this, unfortunately, is par for the course at the U.N. The World Health Assembly (parent body of the World Health Organization—WHO) passed only one country-specific resolution targeting Israel, a country on the leading edge of medical research whose advances have saved countless lives. Throughout my time as a B’nai B’rith representative at the U.N., I can think of no other conflict situation that can approach the amount of attention devoted to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And that time period encompasses both the genocide in Darfur and the ongoing humanitarian catastrophe in Syria.