In what has become an all-too-predictable pattern, the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) ignored ongoing rights violations around the world and hammered Israel with a series of condemnatory resolutions last week.
The HRC passed three resolutions that condemned Israel’s settlements, its policy on Golan and its military attacks on Palestinians, while ignoring the deaths of an estimated 140 Tibetan demonstrators at the hands of Chinese soldiers.
At the same session in Geneva, the HRC named Richard Falk, an American Jewish academic who has compared Israel to Nazi Germany, as its special rapporteur on the Palestinian territories, and it appointed to an advisory group Jean Ziegler, a former Swiss socialist politician with a history of cozying up to dictators.
It was, in the words UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer, TOP LEFT, “one of the worst weeks ever for human rights.”
The resolutions adopted against Israel are one-sided and say nothing about ongoing Palestinian terrorism. “The message is that building settlements on barren hilltops were worse human rights violations than killing students in Tibet,” he said.
Anne Bayefsky, TOP RIGHT, senior editor of the EYE on the UN website, said last week’s developments are part of “a very clear pattern which reached, in many ways, an ultimate low point in the HRC session. The HRC has been utterly subverted by the world’s worst human rights abusers, and part of this sickness is a gross form of anti-Semitism. It’s very raw and uninhibited now: the continual analogizing of Israel to Nazis, of Israel as the archetypal racist human rights violator in the world today. What is particularly shocking about it is the willingness of the European Union to refuse to stand up against it. Canada is left alone and one should be incredibly proud of being a Canadian at the moment.”
Canada was the sole holdout in a 46-1 vote that urged Israel to dismantle its settlements. It also registered the only vote against a resolution criticizing alleged Israeli human rights violations in the Golan Heights, and it voted with nine European countries against a resolution “combatting defamation of religions,” but which referred explicitly to only one faith – Islam.
Canada did not oppose the consensus appointment of Falk as special rapporteur on human rights in Palestinian territories, but it subsequently voiced an objection. “Based on the writings of one of the candidates… Canada expressed serious concern about whether the high standards established by the council would be met by this individual. Therefore, Canada dissociated itself from any council decision to approve the full slate,” said Marius Grinius, Canda’s permanent representative at the United Nations.
In a rebuke to the council, Israeli Ambassador Itzhak Levanon said, “I find it nearly impossible to believe that out of list of 184 potential candidates, the eminently wise members of the consultative group honestly – and in good faith – have made the best possible choice for this post.”
Falk, he noted, last year authored an article titled Slouching toward a Palestinian Holocaust. He “has taken part in a UN fact-finding mission which determined that suicide bombings were a valid method of ‘struggle.’ He has disturbingly charged Israel with ‘genocidal tendencies’ and accused it of trying to achieve security through ‘state terrorism.’ Someone who has publicly and repeatedly stated such views cannot possible be considered independent, impartial or objective, as is explicitly required… It does not appear difficult, even at this early stage, to predict what his first report will say.”
Ziegler, who was named to the HRC’s 18-member advisory group, was the subject of an intense lobbying campaign prior to his selection. MP Irwin Cotler, Canada’s former justice minister, joined Per Ahlmark, the former deputy prime minister of Sweden, and numerous human rights NGOs to urge the Swiss government to suspend Ziegler’s nomination.
They noted “Ziegler’s support for serial violators of human rights,” including dictators in Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, Iraq and North Korea, and his support for French Holocaust denier Roger Garaudy, whom Ziegler called “one of the leading thinkers of our time.” Ziegler co-founded the Moammar Gadhafi Human Rights Prize and joined Garaudy, Louis Farrakahn and Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Muhammad as recipients of the honour, they noted.
The anti-Israel resolutions marked the 17th time the HRC has condemned Israel since it was created two years ago, but “China has never been condemned for Tibet. As TV images [appear] on our screens, with people being shot and killed, there’s silence. No resolutions, no special sessions,” Neuer said.
“The Organization of the Islamic Conference is completely calling the shots,” he said. There is a lot of backroom horse trading going on, and the European HRC members are making deals for support on some resolutions in exchange for not opposing other proposals. “It’s a Faustian bargain. You’re left with a council that does virtually nothing but condemn Israel.”
Bayefsky, a senior fellow with the Hudson Institute, a conservative think tank, said that “the most important lesson here is that the UN as a vehicle for human rights protection is a fiction in the 21st century.”
She pointed to a “shocking” report by John Dugard, who is being replaced by Falk, that “gives a licence to kill Jews… Dugard’s report redefines terrorism, creating a category of terrorism that is not murder, but is justifiable, understandable, comprehensible and inevitable.”
“This council is a pro-terror, anti-democracy creation from hell which is analogous to a runaway train that has commandeered the United Nations and driven it to the bottom of Lake Geneva,” Bayefsky said.