Thu, June 24, 2010 | Youtube | NoLaughingMatter
The One About the UN
Satire on the United Nations and its obsession with Israel…From No Laughing Matter.
“If you’re looking for sober, reflective, thoughts on the Middle East, Israel and the Palestinians, then we’re afraid you’re in the wrong place. How these issues are discussed, in particular how Israel is demonised, has become just too absurd. So here is our response.”
Annotated script for The One About the UN:
Interview with Jan Vorst, Spokesperson for the UN Secretariat.
Interviewer: Welcome Jan Vorst, Spokesperson for the UN Secretariat.
Jan Vorst: Thank you.
Interviewer: Let me start by asking you what does the United Nations do?
Jan Vorst: The United Nations has 192 members states, so you can imagine, it’s pretty difficult to agree on doing anything. Our main role is hosting cocktail parties often with little chamber orchestras. And through these soirees, we keep the world at peace.
Interviewer: And how does that work?
Jan Vorst: Well let’s say two member states are in dispute. Their diplomats meet informally and, with the right canapés, they can work out a compromise. It’s well know, for example, that the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty was saved by the deployment of mushroom vol au vants.
Interviewer: Well, leaving aside the informal channels, do you find that the bureaucracy of the UN prevents you from getting things done?
Jan Vorst: Absolutely. That is the masterstroke of the UN. We are not supposed to do anything. We are here to let nations blow off steam. If the UN did anything, it could be very, very dangerous.
Interviewer: But isn’t the UN at least the arbiter of legality?
Jan Vorst: Well, yes…in the same way that the X factor is the arbiter of musical talent. It comes down to a vote. Resolutions are passed by a simple majority. So if you get enough countries together you can pass a resolution.
Interviewer: So in theory a majority could pass any resolution?
Jan Vorst: Happens all the time. Get together enough countries that hate semolina pudding and you can classify it as crime against humanity. Although having said that it is very difficult to get member states to agree on any issue…except one.
Interviewer: What’s that?
Jan Vorst: Israel.
Jan Vorst: Yes, it doesn’t matter how bad the situation is, a motion to censure Israel brings everyone together. It’s really quite uplifting.
Look at the UN Council on Human Rights. Since 2006 it has passed 25 motions – 20 of them against Israel. Nothing against Syria, Libya, Zimbabwe, Sudan. But 80% of all its motions are against Israel! Take that away and it would look like the Council hadn’t done anything.
Interviewer: And why does Israel get singled out for criticism?
Jan Vorst: Well it is a simple case of mathematics. There are over 50 muslim countries in the UN and only one Jewish country. To survive in the UN you need friends. It is like a huge prison for serious offenders. Israel is on its own, so it gets picked on. That’s why, for example, it is not even a member of its own geographical Region – the other countries won’t let it in!
Interviewer: That doesn’t seem very United Nations.
Jan Vorst: Oh, it’s very United Nations. But the good news is that Israel is at least a partial member of the informal Western Europe and Others Group – or WEOG to us. That gives Israel some valuable benefits.
Interviewer: Such as?
Jan Vorst: It can compete in the Eurovision Song Contest – which, I should add, it won three times!
Interviewer: You mentioned the UN Council on Human Rights earlier which replaced the UN Human Rights Commission. Why was the change necessary?
Jan Vorst: Well, in 2003, when Libya was accused of Human Rights abuses, it was appointed Chair of the Human Rights Commission. Even Kofi Annan had to admit it looked like the lunatics had taken over the asylum.
Interviewer: So he renamed the asylum?
Jan Vorst: …quite.
Interviewer: And is the Council doing better?
Jan Vorst: Oh much better. It launched investigations into human rights abuses in Belarus, the Congo, Cuba, Libya and Sudan.
Interviewer: And how are they going?
Jan Vorst: Well they’ve all been cancelled actually. The Sudanese ambassador sent me a lovely note saying how delighted he was that his country had been exonerated.
Interviewer: So let me finally ask you, are you still optimistic of the UN’s ability to resolve conflicts?
Jan Vorst: Yes, absolutely. As a diplomat, I believe that all differences can be bridged…with the right canapés.
Interviewer: Jan Vorst, Thank you.
As will be clear from our video series, the people behind this project have an affinity for Israel. What’s also true of those who’ve contributed creatively or financially, is that the views we hold would place us at a multitude of points on the Israeli political spectrum.
What we hold in common is our belief that the nature of the debate has become ridiculous. A few videos aren’t going to change that, but maybe we can help an alternative point of view to be heard.
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