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Rice tells Jewish leaders: U.N. engagement ‘vital’

JTA

December 15, 2011 | 1:01 pm

U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice in Tripoli on Nov. 21. Photo by REUTERS/Mohammed Salem

U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice in Tripoli on Nov. 21. Photo by REUTERS/Mohammed Salem

The United States must remain engaged with the United Nations, its envoy to the international body told the Jewish community’s foreign policy umbrella.

“I hope we never let our justified frustration over the treatment of Israel blind us to the ways in which the U.N. is vital to our security and our values,” Susan Rice said Wednesday in an address to the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. “It’s not in America’s interest to throw out the baby with the bathwater.”

Some conservative groups have lambasted the Obama administration for increasing its engagement with the United Nations, and a number of Jewish groups have been frustrated for years with its anti-Israel bias.

“Whether it’s bringing the world together to isolate Iran or North Korea; keeping the peace in conflict zones at a fraction of the cost of sending U.S. troops; saving the lives of refugees and starving children; or fostering democracy in places like South Sudan and Liberia, the work of the U.N. is fundamentally in our interest,” Rice said. “We will continue to lead, to pursue our interests and our values, and to stick up for fair treatment for Israel.”

The Presidents Conference conferred its National Service Award on Rice at a New York dinner, citing the Obama administration’s support for Israel.

Rice in her remarks referred to what she called “unprecedented” closeness in the U.S.-Israel security relationship and chided the Palestinian leadership for seeking statehood recognition in the absence of direct talks with Israel.

“We will continue to fight against any obstacle placed on the path to peace,” she said.

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