WASHINGTON — UN Ambassador Nikki Haley told the American Israel Public Affairs Committee annual policy conference that “standing up for your friends is critical” and the administration is looking at tying foreign aid to voting with the U.S. at the United Nations.
Haley told the crowd that she was raised with “absolutely no patience for bullying” as she grew up in the only Indian family in small South Carolina town. “That didn’t mean every day was great,” she said. “My family were immigrants. My father wore a turban. My mother wore a sari.”
“You don’t pick on someone just because they look differently than you, you don’t pick on someone just because they think differently than you, or because you can,” she added.
Haley said that upon arriving at the United Nations she learned that Israel “gets bullied because the countries that don’t like Israel are used to getting away with it — just like that little girl in South Carolina, that doesn’t sit well with me.”
As examples of the administration countering UN bullying, Haley cited the U.S. withdrawal from UNESCO for “attempting to change ancient history” by recognizing Hebron in the West Bank as a Palestinian world heritage site in need of protection.
Haley said when she started attending a monthly UN session on the Middle East and found it to be “an Israel-bashing session it was actually shocking.”
“I can’t say that we’ve solved the problem but I can say that several other countries have followed our lead,” she said. “What used to be a monthly Israel bashing session now has more balance.”
On moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, Haley declared, “Like most Americans, I knew what the capital of Israel was.”
“America did not make Jerusalem Israel’s capital,” she said, but simply recognized reality “denied for too long.”
“Our embassy decision caused a little bit of a stir” at the UN, she quipped.
Haley praised the handful of countries that stood with the U.S. on the UN vote to condemn the embassy move. “God bless Guatemala,” she said. “They even joined us in moving their embassy to Jerusalem.”
The ambassador said that as the administration weighs a tie between foreign aid and support for the U.S. position on the world stage, “UN votes should never be the only factor… but they should be one of the factors, and we are determined to start making that connection.”
Addressing those who say U.S. policy is tied too tightly to Israel, Haley said, “There’s nothing wrong with showing favoritism toward an ally.”