When Ron Prosor was the Israeli ambassador to the United Nations, his impish sense of humor came out when he would deliberately take a route to his chair in the General Assembly by passing behind the seat of the Iranian ambassador.
Prosor, guest speaker at the Tampa JCCs & Federation’s annual President’s Dinner on Jan. 29, explained that if the Iranian ambassador were ever seen in a photo with the Israeli ambassador, “he would probably wind up hanging from a lamp post in Tehran.”
His comment underscored the point that gamesmanship is part of the job, especially when national animosities run deep.
He also pointed out that often what happens in private is far different from the public positions often taken in the General Assembly. Under the radar, when fellow ambassadors can speak frankly, there is respect for Israel that often is not reflected by those nation’s public positions, Prosor said.
No matter how some may privately think, there are alliances, including 22 members of the Arab League and other allied nations that always vote together, often in opposition to any position taken by Israel. Of the 193 members of the United Nations, Prosor said, only 87 are democracies, as defined by the UN, making the point that in terms of voting, the deck is stacked against Israel.
Often, votes defy logic. In spite of human rights violations in many corners of the world, Article 7 of the UN Charter singles out only one nation for such behavior – not Iran or Syria or North Korea or any other country but Israel.
Prosor said the United Kingdom and France abstained with only the United States, Canada, Israel and the tiny Republic of Palau voting against the resolution. After the vote, Prosor quipped that he made a point of seeking out and befriending the Palau ambassador.
In spite of many bloc votes, Prosor said the Arab world is undergoing dramatic change and there are deep tensions among those nations that could in time erode alliances.
Prosor was Israel ambassador to the UN from 2011 to 2015 and was elected to the position of Vice President of the UN’s 67th General Assembly.
He said his strategy was to combat the demonization of Israel and promote the many successes of his nation as a way for other nations to embrace Israel. So, he would introduce measures to share Israeli technology in water drip irrigation and in areas of cultural development and had success in getting them approved.
“We forget what an amazing country Israel is. We export wine to France, caviar to Russia, Apple devices and orange phones to many places. Every time I entered the UN I felt … proud of what and who I represented,” Prosor said. “We should work hard to make sure our flag will keep flying.”
Prosor stressed that out of all nations, America is its strongest ally and said, “We must work hard to ensure this support is always bipartisan.”
But he also criticized a recent action by the outgoing Obama administration, abstaining rather then veto a resolution condemning Israel for settlement construction in the West Bank.