United Nations

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

This is the best description of the United Nations that I have ever found:

The U.N. consists of two main bodies:

The General Assembly, which is, in the generous spirit of the U.N. Charter, open to just about every little dirtbag nation in the world. It has no power. Its functions are to: (1) Have formal receptions; (2) Listen to the Grateful Dead on headphones; and (3) Denounce Israel for everything, including sunspots.

The Security Council, which is limited to nations that have mastered the concept of plumbing. It is very powerful. Its functions are to: (1) Pass sweeping resolutions to end bloody conflicts; and then (2) Veto, ignore, or walk out on these resolutions.

Dave Barry, Dave Barry Slept Here: A Sort of History of the United States, p. 122

About Gil Student

Rabbi Gil Student is the Editor of TorahMusings.com, a leading website on Orthodox Jewish scholarly subjects, and the Book Editor of the Orthodox Union’s Jewish Action magazine. He writes a popular column on issues of Jewish law and thought featured in newspapers and magazines, including The Jewish Link, The Jewish Echo and The Vues. In the past, he has served as the President of the small Jewish publisher Yashar Books and as the Managing Editor of OU Press. Rabbi Student has served two terms on the Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America and currently serves as the Director of the Halacha Commission of the Rabbinical Alliance of America. He serves on the Editorial Boards of Jewish Action magazine, the Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society and the Achieve Journal of Behavioral Health, Religion & Community, as well as the Board of OU Press. He has published five English books, the most recent titled Search Engine volume 2: Finding Meaning in Jewish Texts -- Jewish Leadership, and served as the American editor for Morasha Kehillat Yaakov: Essays in Honour of Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks.

42 comments

  1. This is quite childish, both Barry’s comment (which isn’t particularly clever or funny) and your calling it “the best description.” It’s your blog and you certainly have the right to post anything you wish, but sometimes (and this is one of those times) I wish your judgment would be a bit better.

  2. re best description
    Maybe best description of those two bodies
    What about WHO, WFP, and UNICEF?

  3. A pithy antidote to the hope eroding hypocrisy, windbagging, malice and self-aggrandisement for which the UN has become notorious. Nice one, Rabbi!

  4. OK, Joseph, ball in your court: Start listing UN accomplishments.

    The only worthwhile parts of it are the technical ones that allow countries to have, say, telephone and postal service and certain standards between them. Lots of those predate the UN or were founded separately, and not all have even been absorbed.

    Basically, when they decided that there wouldn’t be standards for membership apart from sovereignty (maybe when the USSR joined?), it was all over.

  5. Lighten up, people. Dave Barry is a humor writer.

  6. re Lighten up

    It perpetuates this myth held closely by many right wing supporters of Israel that the UN is a joke or worse. While much of that is deserved it also ignores some of the important work the UN does in the developing world.

  7. ” Start listing UN accomplishments.”

    Well, you can start with the eradication of smallpox. That alone justifies its existence.

  8. Geez Louise, folks, it is humor. Laugh or smile if you want. Accomplishments? Getting away with millions of dollars in parking tickets each year most surely is an accomplishment.

  9. 2nd best: “You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy.”

  10. Not one of Dave Barry’s funnier pieces.

  11. “It perpetuates this myth held closely by many right wing supporters of Israel that the UN is a joke or worse.”

    It is a joke. Please, prove me wrong. As for Charlie’s comment, wasn’t smallpox eradicated decades ago? What about the “fine” work the UN has done in the past 30-35 years? Zionism is racism? Libya, Cuba, N Korea, Iran sitting on the Human Rights Counsel? Its inaction during the massacre of the Tutsis by the Hutus? Come on?

    As for Dave Barry, I like it. I didn’t know he’s around anymore.

  12. I agree with Rafael’s comment.

    YC-can you identify which country in the “developing world” has been helped via the UN to the level that it is neither poverty ridden nor dicatorial in nature?

  13. “As for Charlie’s comment, wasn’t smallpox eradicated decades ago?”

    The last case was 1979. It was the World Health Organization, a UN agency, that did it.

    “can you identify which country in the “developing world” has been helped via the UN to the level that it is neither poverty ridden nor dicatorial in nature?”

    It isn’t in the “developing world” any more, but it would not exist were it not for the UN-directed defense of it from 1950 to 1953: The Republic of Korea.

  14. One can easily look up the UNs accomplishments. I was a bit surprised by some of them. They definitely do more good than harm in the world. Even for Israel.

  15. I thought this was great.

    If you are offended by it you need to seriously lighten up. You all realize (specifically, Joseph Kaplan) that the UN was trying to pass a resolution regarding the genocide of trees as well and other wildlife?

    The UN is a joke, even if they have done good for the world, that doesn’t make them any less of a joke in general. If you pass resolutions all day some are bound to be helpful.

  16. Rafael Araujo wrote:
    “As for Dave Barry, I like it. I didn’t know he’s around anymore.”

    Certainly he’s still around. He’s stopped writing his weekly columns, but you can subscribe to repeats at http://www.miamiherald.com/. They’re as funny as ever. Or you can just visit http://www.davebarry.com/. Or read any of his books, which some of us continue to find hysterically clever and funny.

  17. Every Organization is going to have positives and negatives. It’s just a matter of where the scales tilt. Personally, I hold that the UN is more a negative than positive.

  18. The U.N. established the modern State of Israel. Let’s not bite the hand that first fed us, at least not too hard.

  19. What about WHO, WFP, and UNICEF?

    See http://bash.org/?4780

    (in the spirit of this post…)

  20. Shlomo, that was funny.

    Reminds me of this exchange between me and a judge supervising jury selection. Karen Hu was Juror no. 1.

    Judge: Hu’s first?
    Lawyer: And what’s on second

    (This was outside the presence of the jury, by the way, and I knew the judge to have a sense of humor.)

  21. “The U.N. established the modern State of Israel. Let’s not bite the hand that first fed us, at least not too hard.”

    I would posit that is because the UN was created in the wake of WWII and the Holocaust and, you could argue, was its raison d’etre (i.e. “compensation” for the Holocaust”)

    Also, but about that great UN organization, UNRWA! I would say that WRT Israel, the UN, generally, has done one positive thing, creating Israel, and many more negative things, some of which have directly threatened or questioned the existance of Israel. UNICEF, WHO, and WFP are great, but from an Israeli perspective, it has been downhill since ’47.

  22. I think we all have mixed feelings about the UN – the Zionism is racism resolution (since repealed), Arafat with a holstered gun speaking in the General Assembly – but at the end of the day, a world without the UN would be scarier than it already is, indeed, even unthinkable.

  23. “were it not for the UN-directed defense of it from 1950 to 1953: The Republic of Korea”

    Come on, Charlie. That wasn’t the UN.

  24. Yaakov Fuchsman

    Elliot wrote: “…but at the end of the day, a world without the UN would be scarier than it already is, indeed, even unthinkable.”

    No way! The UN legitimizes and empowers the most vicious kinds of human evil in the world. It is scary as hell.

    Anyone who values human life and freedom would rest much easier if the US pulled out its funding and the UN went bankrupt. The fact that such a thing isn’t likely to happen is also quite scary.

  25. I recently heard a shiur from R’ Hershel Schachter quoting a homiletic explanation (don’t remember who) of the migdal bavel, saying that it essentially was like the UN – an assembly of many different types of people to make decisions for all of society. The “punishment” wasn’t so much a punishment as much as a needed remedy to the problem this created. As the mishna in Sanhedrin says, “kinus l’r’shaim, ra lahem v’ra l’olam”. In the case of the migdal bavel, the particular problem was that such an assembly would have put a stop to Avraham Avinu’s monotheistic ideas, but I think the point is equally valid in today’s version.

  26. Very funny!
    Much truth to it.

  27. “OK, Joseph, ball in your court: Start listing UN accomplishments.”

    Okay. To start: eradicating smallpox, International Court of Justice, land mine clearing, UNICEF’s immunization programs saving millions of children, 35 peacekeeping missions (unfortunately, not all were, of course, successful), Yugoslvia/Rawanda war crimes tribunals, Korean and 1st Persian Gulf Wars — for a start. Of course, the UN wasn’t solely responsible for these accomplishments, but they played an important role.

    But that really wasn’t my point. The UN also does plenty of terrible things as we all know. So a serious discussion of the UN and whether the good outweighs the bad or vice versa could be worthwhile. But the childish — and not particularly funny or clever — comment by Barry, and Gil’s equally childish and also not funny or clever statement that this is the best description he’s found, is not a good basis to start such a discussion.

  28. Agree with the following of Joseph Kaplan:
    “Okay. To start: eradicating smallpox, International Court of Justice, land mine clearing, UNICEF’s immunization programs saving millions of children, 35 peacekeeping missions (unfortunately, not all were, of course, successful), Yugoslvia/Rawanda war crimes tribunals, Korean and 1st Persian Gulf Wars — for a start. Of course, the UN wasn’t solely responsible for these accomplishments, but they played an important role.

    But that really wasn’t my point. The UN also does plenty of terrible things as we all know. So a serious discussion of the UN and whether the good outweighs the bad or vice versa could be worthwhile”

    The UN is far from a paper tiger see eg Kosovo-of course those supporting Israel and ignore the 3 Oaths realize that much of the answer against that Gemarrah is that lo alu bchoma came back with approbation of the UN.

  29. Superintendant Chalmers

    I think the appropriate link right now is https://www.torahmusings.com/2011/09/does-modern-orthodoxy-not-believe-in-fun/

    Apparently, the answer is that MO does not believe in humor of any kind.

  30. Apparently, the answer is that MO does not believe in humor of any kind.

    Whenever you try to be funny at the expense of someone other than yourself, you should expect many people not to like it.

  31. “Apparently, the answer is that MO does not believe in humor of any kind.”

    It’s sometimes said that arguments have to pass a “smell test.” Similarly, humor has to pass a “laugh test.” Barry’s comment failed that test.

  32. Must be an age thing 😉

  33. The UN did not create Israel. Israelis winning the War of Independence created Israel.

  34. “The UN did not create Israel. Israelis winning the War of Independence created Israel.”

    It’s not a zero sum game. There were certainly a number of acts that, cumulatively, created Medinat Yisrael.

  35. Mycroft wrote:

    “of course those supporting Israel and ignore the 3 Oaths realize that much of the answer against that Gemarrah is that lo alu bchoma came back with approbation of the UN.”

    That IMO is ancient history and cannot be used as a proof as to the current virulently anti Israel bias ( i.e. Durban I-III) that can be found within the UN.

  36. Steve Brizel on September 22, 2011 at 6:27 pm
    Mycroft wrote:

    ““of course those supporting Israel and ignore the 3 Oaths realize that much of the answer against that Gemarrah is that lo alu bchoma came back with approbation of the UN.”

    That IMO is ancient history and cannot be used as a proof as to the current virulently anti Israel bias ( i.e. Durban I-III) that can be found within the UN”

    No government in the world including Israel states that Israel has sovereignty over the West Bank-remember theUS as early as the Reagan administration recognized the PLO.
    That situation has existed for 44 years
    Has theUN done anything about it?
    BTW name a post WW11 country that has occupied another country for years-not including 5th column invitations.

  37. Mycroft-I note that you failed to address my comment about the difference between the UN in 1947 and the present. Furthermore, which sovereign “country” has been “occupied” since 1967? There was no sovereign Palestinian state prior to 1967. Certainly, such a state never existed prior thereto. Again-are you ready to cede the American southwest back to Mexico-if not, why not?

    FWIW, did Reagan ever welcome Arafat Yimach Shmo VZicro to the White House?

  38. “Steve Brizel on September 24, 2011 at 10:03 pm
    Mycroft-I note that you failed to address my comment about the difference between the UN in 1947 and the present. Furthermore, which sovereign “country” has been “occupied” since 1967?”
    Fair enough the land before 67 was occupied by an Arab government which has since reounced its rightto the territory. The land was populated by people who clearly do not wish to be part of the State ofIsrael.

    “There was no sovereign Palestinian state prior to 1967.”

    Agreed but so what-the area certainly was not part of thatrecognized by anyone as part of Israel prior to 4 June 1967.

    “Certainly, such a state never existed prior thereto. Again-are you ready to cede the American southwest back to Mexico-if not, why not? ”

    If an overwhelming majority of the population which wish such a result lech leshalom-that has been Canadas view of potetial Quebecois seccession.

    “FWIW, did Reagan ever welcome Arafat Yimach Shmo VZicro to the White House?”
    Irrelevant-he was the first president to recognize the PLO and of course fought heavily to give AWACS to Saudi Arabia.
    Arafat was welcomed together with Rabin.

  39. Mycroft wrote:

    “If an overwhelming majority of the population which wish such a result lech leshalom-that has been Canadas view of potetial Quebecois seccession.

    “FWIW, did Reagan ever welcome Arafat Yimach Shmo VZicro to the White House?”
    Irrelevant-he was the first president to recognize the PLO and of course fought heavily to give AWACS to Saudi Arabia.
    Arafat was welcomed together with Rabin”

    WADR, your first response was hypothetical. Comparing the Southwest to Quebec IMO is not a valid comparison. When was ASrafat welcomed together with Rabin-for the Oslo signing or beforehand? In all seriousness, Reagan , despite the AWACS issue, was far more pro Israel than his predecessor and immediate succesor.

  40. Mycroft wrote:

    ““There was no sovereign Palestinian state prior to 1967.”

    Agreed but so what-the area certainly was not part of thatrecognized by anyone as part of Israel prior to 4 June 1967”

    WADR, that is irrelevant-Judea and Sammaria were not part of any country that purported to represent the Palestinians prior to 1967.

  41. “In all seriousness, Reagan , despite the AWACS issue, was far more pro Israel than his predecessor and immediate succesor”

    It is not too tought be more pro Israel than CArter or the first Bush-both were probably more anti-Israel than any other USP president with the possible exception of DDE.

  42. “your first response was hypothetical.”
    Not sure but I may be wrong and certainly some CAnuck or resident of la belle province, that currently insists that everyone Je me souviens remeber befroe the Plains Of Abraham-that a Prime MInister of CAnada once stated before a Quebec plebiscite on independence if it passes let em go in peace.

    “Comparing the Southwest to Quebec IMO is not a valid comparison”

    Why not both are heavily populated by residents whose ethnicity is a minority one-both areas were conquered by the dominant ethnic group of the country. Both were conquered from countries that have essentially all their citizens the same general ethnicity of those living in either certains tates of SW US or Quebec.

Leave a Reply

Subscribe to our Weekly Newsletter


The latest weekly digest is also available by clicking here.

Subscribe to our Daily Newsletter

Archives

Categories

%d bloggers like this: