The UN’S fixation with Israel and settlements and its blindness towards Syrian abuses

UN – Useless Nations

UN Watch reports (h/t Honest Reporting). that it was Hate Israel Day at the UN a few days ago (as if any other day is not Hate Israel Day), with the execrable truther and antisemite Richard Falk opening the proceedings.

GENEVA, July 2 - Despite continued killings today of civilians across Syria, the U.N.’s top human rights body devoted all discussion to its ritual Hate Israel Day. A day against Israel is a permanent feature of every council meeting, under its only country-specific agenda item, entitled “the Human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories.”

The meeting opened with Richard Falk, the pro-Hamas 9/11 conspiracist who serves as the human rights council’s “Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967.” Then came detailed status updates on the 2009 Goldstone Report, the 2010 Flotilla Report, and the developing council inquiry and report into settlements.

Twenty states and six non-governmental organizations took the floor this morning. UN Watch was the only one to challenge Mr. Falk. The full UN summary is here.

Hillel Neuer performed his usual sterling work and confronted Falk, as can be seen in this video:

Here’s an excerpt from the transcript:

Mr. Falk, your report states that Israel has refused to cooperate with your mandate, and urges this council to pay attention to how this harms the United Nations.

Given that during this time, Israel has invited and received numerous experts of this council, as well as the High Commissioner, on country visits, we wish to ask: Is it possible that the problem lies in your mandate?

The title of your mandate—Special Rapporteur on “the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories” —implies a regional jurisdiction that objectively treats all sides. Yet the actual mandate is to investigate only “Israel’s violations.”

Indeed, speaking here on 16 June 2008, you admitted your mandate was open to challenges over its “bias and one-sidedness.” You added: “Such complaints have considerable merit.

[...]

Indeed, as reported in the Ma’an newspaper, the Palestinian Authority itself asked you to resign, on grounds that—as you stated—they consider you a “partisan of Hamas.”

[...]

Speaking in this chamber last year, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said: “For this Human Rights Council to fulfil its mandate, it must be seen as impartial and fair. It cannot be seen as a place ruled by bias or special interests.”

Referring to you, he stated:

“Recently, there was a Special Rapporteur who suggested there was an apparent cover-up in the 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States. I want to tell you, clearly and directly. I condemn this sort of inflammatory rhetoric. It is preposterous – an affront to the memory of the more than 3,000 people who died in that tragic terrorist attack.”

Mr. Falk, are these actions consistent with the principles of the United Nations? Do they contribute to the objectivity of your mandate, and of this council?

Thank you, Madam President.

If you have the stomach for it, and if you pinch your nose tightly, you can read Falk’s screed at this link. Some highlights (or should I say lowlights?):

The UN pointman for Palestinian human rights launched a blistering attack on the international community Monday, accusing it of conspiring in Israeli settlement policies and branding the peace process a “trick”.

Richard Falk, the special UN rapporteur for human rights in the occupied territories, also took aim at the so-called Middle East Quartet’s peace envoy Tony Blair over his efforts in the region.

Falk, who spoke to reporters after addressing the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, said Palestinians in the occupied West Bank were offered no protection in Israeli law and that their treatment was akin to apartheid.

“I think one has to begin to call the reality by a name,” he said, likening the “discriminatory dualistic legal system” in the West Bank to the former system in South Africa.

[...]

“The international community is conspiring — maybe unwittingly — in a process that has no way of bringing justice to the people involved in this conflict,” he said of settlements.

However a much more superior opinion holds a diametrically opposed view regarding the settlements, as Yisrael Medad reports on his blog:

Retired Supreme Court Justice Edmond Levy, who heads a committee tasked with examining the legality of Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria, declared on Tuesday that Israelis have a legal right to settle the region.

“According to international law, Israelis have a legal right to settle all of Judea and Samaria, at the very least the lands that Israel controls under agreements with the Palestinian Authority,” Levy stated. “Therefore, the establishment of Jewish settlements [in Judea and Samaria] is, in itself, not illegal.”

The committee issued its report on Tuesday, which was subsequently handed over to Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein. In the report, Levy wrote that “upon completing the committee’s tasks, and considering the testimonies heard, the basic conclusion is that from an international law perspective, the laws of ‘occupation’ do not apply to the unique historic and legal circumstances surrounding Israel’s decades-long presence in Judea and Samaria.”

“Likewise,” the report said, “the Fourth Geneva Convention [relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War] on the transfer of populations does not apply, and wasn’t intended to apply to communities such as those established by Israel in Judea and Samaria.”

[...]

the committee declared that the encouragement provided by the government to the settlement enterprise constituted authorization. According to the committee, communities that were built on land owned by the state, or privately owned Israeli land, with the help of government bodies could not be classified as “unauthorized” due to the absence of an official government decision to authorize them. The very assistance provided by the government in their establishment constitutes implicit authorization.

Under these circumstances, the report concluded, the evacuation of such communities would be impractical and another solution, such as compensation or land swap, should be implemented. Therefore, the committee recommends in its report, the government should avoid issuing demolition orders for these communities because it is the government itself that created this situation in the first place.

Meanwhile, as if all this was not bad enough, to add insult to injury, Syria is running for a seat on the UN Human Rights Council. Yes, that Syria whose regime has been murdering on average 800 civilians a week lately. From the first link above:

In the past decade, the U.N. Human Rights Council elected Col. Muammar Gaddafi’s Libya as chair, hailed Sri Lanka’s “promotion and protection of all human rights” after its army had killed thousands of civilians, and convened an emergency session to lament the death of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, founder of the Hamas terrorist organization.

Even so, historians will now have to decide whether the U.N.’s flagship human rights body is about to sink to a new low.

According to a U.S.-sponsored and EU-backed draft resolution that was debated today during informal meetings at the council in Geneva, the murderous regime of Bashar al-Assad is a declared candidate for a seat on the 47-nation U.N. body, in elections to be held next year at the 193-member General Assembly.

As part of the U.N.’s 53-nation Asian group, Syria’s candidacy would be virtually assured of victory due to the prevalent system of fixed slates, whereby regional groups orchestrate uncontested elections, naming only as many candidates as allotted seats.

That’s how non-democracies like China, Cuba, Russia and Saudi Arabia won their current seats, and how Pakistan and Venezuela are about to do the same.

[...]

Shockingly, the perfectly reasonable attempt to keep Syria away from the world’s highest human rights body was met with strong resistance.

[...]

What is more, this past November Syria won unanimous election to two human rights committees of UNESCO, the U.N.’s Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

Despite the suspension of Assad’s regime from the Arab League, the very same nations’ UNESCO ambassadors in Paris refused to allow objections to a country’s human rights record to interfere with their backroom rotation deals—lest one day the precedent be used against them. They nominated Syria, and it was duly elected.

After UN Watch campaigned against this obscenity, too, the U.S. and Britain attempted remedial action. Yet despite their best efforts, the old boys’ club could not be convinced to expel one of their own. Syria remains a full member of UNESCO’s committee to judge human rights complaints, and of its committee dealing with human rights organizations.

And unless America’s laudable effort succeeds, Syria may soon win a seat on the world’s highest human rights body as well.

Sterling words, but is anyone listening?

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6 Responses to The UN’S fixation with Israel and settlements and its blindness towards Syrian abuses

  1. Philip says:

    You mention that Richard Falk is an ‘execrable truther and antisemite’. Seems harsh. What’s the case? We need a clear and open definition of terms & evidence that he fits them, surely?

    • anneinpt says:

      No problem.

      Truther: Ambassador Susan Rice condemns Falk for implying that 9/11 was perpetrated by the US
      See also here.

      Antisemite: Elder of Ziyon reports on Falk’s own writings on his own blog, where he endorses antisemitic conspiracy theories and promotes the antisemitic book by Shlomo Sand which denies Jewish peoplehood.

      UN human rights chief Navi Pillay condemns antisemitic cartoon on Falk’s website

      I’m sure I could find you more articles but why should do I do your research for you?

      • Philip says:

        Thanks. I don’t want you to do my research for me.In fact, I did try looking in the British Library catalogue, Google Scholar, Google books and so on, and couldn’t find anything on the topic to support your view. I looked on Google web, and that just brought me to a few anti-Muslim hate sites, hence why it was helpful for you to make some links.

        However, that still doesn’t lay out the clear basis against which you will judge the claims you make (remember the null hypothesis is always the negative). Which is a pity, because the framework laid out by ‘Elder of Ziyon’ is in my view very weak. But despite the lack of a ‘smoking gun’ the articles you lined to were interesting to read.

        Two notes: you mentioned the Sands book, but your link was to comments on Atzmon. I don’t think this changes the story much, though. Second, I would note that Falk apologised for the cartoon, saying he didn’t fully realise some of the details in it. Sloppy? Yes.

  2. DavidinPT says:

    I recommend that in future you refer to the “execrable truther and antisemite” as Mr Richard F**k, I am sure that is how his name should be pronounced, as in “Don’t confuse me with facts, I couldn’t give a f**k”.

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