High-mindedness and hypocrisy: From the UN to Congress, posturing about peace and free speech

A picture taken from Rafah on the southern Gaza Strip on Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2023, shows smoke billowing during Israeli bombardment in Gaza amid continuing battles between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas. (Mahmud Hams/AFP/Getty Images/TNS)

We have no qualms with much of the United Nations resolution expressing “grave concern over the catastrophic humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip and the suffering of the Palestinian civilian population” and emphasizing that “the Palestinian and Israeli civilian populations must be protected in accordance with international humanitarian law.”

Indeed, a new report from a field hospital by CNN’s Clarissa Ward, the first Western journalist to enter Gaza since Oct. 7, shows children injured and orphaned by Israel’s assault. Israel has a right to use its military might to kill and dismantle those who seek its destruction, but it must take great pains to spare innocents. It is right and proper for the United States, Israel’s ally, to say this loudly and clearly and ensure consequences for unintended killings.


That UN resolution also urged a humanitarian ceasefire and the return of all remaining hostages — without mentioning Hamas. Austria corrected the record, clarifying that hostages were “held by Hamas and other groups,” and added the word “immediate” before a phrase demanding humanitarian access to those hostages. That amendment fell short of the two-thirds majority needed to secure passage.

Then the United States proffered an amendment saying the world body “unequivocally rejects and condemns the heinous terrorist attacks by Hamas that took place in Israel…and the taking of hostages.” That too fell short of a two-thirds majority.

And so in the end, the United Nations — with the United States voting against and Germany, the United Kingdom and many other nations abstaining — passed a resolution urging peace and calm that refuses to admit that Hamas gleefully murdered and kidnapped Israelis and continues to keep more than 100 people hostage, and therefore keeps the world’s most powerful nation on the sidelines. What does this accomplish?

The world needs fewer political games and more constructive action to weaken Hamas and focus Israel’s response. Here at home, the United States needs far less opportunistic political posturing by elected officials about Harvard, Penn and MIT.

We didn’t much like the testimony to Congress by the presidents of those institutions; it’s true, Rep. Elise Stefanik’s show trial made them look insensitive. Nor can we defend elite universities’ habit, over many years, of policing speech that offends left-wing pieties and bend to the sensitivities of those offended — until those offended happened to be Jews.

But every member of Congress who voted for Stefanik’s resolution urging the firing of the leaders of these private institutions because of their inartful answers backing speech rights should be embarrassed. Colleges’ coddling of their students has been the problem, not their belated and correct assertion that offensive political speech should almost always be free.