Israel’s adventures in UN-Wonderland

UN - Useless Nations

UN – Useless Nations

My above title is intended to be a pun – the UN is no wonderland, the exact opposite in fact. And in parallel, the way the UN behaves towards Israel is so reminiscent of the Queen of Hearts’ words that it almost makes one want to chuckle.

Queen of Hearts: Now… are you ready for your sentence?
Alice: Sentence? But there has to be a verdict first…
Queen of Hearts: Sentence first! Verdict afterwards.

As most of you must have heard by now, the UN Human Wrongs Rights Council decision to investigate Israel’s “war crimes” committed during Operation Protective Edge.  No matter that the operation is still ongoing, that the ceasefires have proven worthless and that truce talks are taking place at this moment in Cairo between all the sides.

Thus we end up (h/t Elder of Ziyon) with the Alice-in-Wonderland-like denouncement of Israel before any actual investigation has taken place:

Here is the statement from the UN Human Rights Council establishing a “commission of inquiry:”

to investigate all violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, particularly in the occupied Gaza Strip, in the context of the military operations conducted since 13 June 2014. William Schabas will serve as Chair of the three-person commission mandated by the Council at its last special session.

June 13? Operation Protective Edge began on July 8. So why is the UN choosing June 13?

The answer tells you all you need to know about how biased the UNHRC is.

Hamas kidnapped and murdered Naftali Fraenkel, Gilad Shaer and Eyal Yifrah on June 12.

Israel started searching for them in the Hebron area on June 13.

The commission is being given a framework where they are supposed to believe that the kidnapping and murder were not acts of aggression, but Israel’s response was.

While it is true that the next paragraph tries to stave off this criticism by saying “whether before, during or after,” the very mention of that date and not the day before shows that its mandate “to establish the facts and circumstances of such violations and of the crimes perpetrated and to identify those responsible, …all with a view to avoiding and ending impunity and ensuring that those responsible are held accountable, and on ways and means to protect civilians against any further assaults” is directed only at Israel and not Hamas.

Hamas has never been accused of “impunity.” That is a NGO keyword that only applies to Israel in the context of this conflict.

This is not a mistake. Diplomats are very careful with statements like this, and using the words “military operations conducted since 13 June 2014″ shows that the UNHRC does not consider the kidnapping and murder of the teens to be within the mandate of the commission – only the Israeli response.

Kidnapping and targeting civilians is a war crime, by the way, so the choice of June 13 is a very deliberate attempt not only to portray Israel as the initiator of the hostilities but to whitewash Hamas war crimes.

None of this should come as a surprise to those of us who know the character of the UN (bad) and the UN Human Wrongs Rights Council (evil, malicious).  Let’s add to this stinking pile the composition of the hastily gathered panel tasked with investigating Israel’s already-determined war crimes, and you get a witch-hunt worthy of the worst of the Salem trials.

Israel dismissed the Monday appointment of the three members of a UN human rights’ investigative committee to review the recent military operation in Gaza, saying the identity of the three proved that the results of the probe were a foregone conclusion.

The committee will be headed by Canadian Prof. William Schabas, and was to include British-Lebanese rights lawyer Amal Alamuddin, best known for her recent engagement to actor George Clooney, and Doudou Dienne of Senegal, who has previously served as the UN’s watchdog on racism and on post-conflict Ivory Coast.

However, Alamuddin later released a statement saying that she was too busy with eight other cases and could not take on the UN position.

The biggest problem is with the chairman of the panel, William Schabas, a man known for his deep hostility towards Israel, and towards Binyamin Netanyahu in particular.

William Schabas, anti-Israel chair of the UN investigatory panel

Schabas, a professor of International Law at London’s Middlesex University, has called for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and former president Shimon Peres to stand trial at the International Criminal Court in The Hague for war crimes.

He also supported the 2010 Goldstone Report into Israel’s last ground offensive in Gaza, though he said in a later interview that the scale of destruction in Gaza did not compare to other atrocities in the world.

UN Watch, a Geneva-based watchdog with ties to Israel, slammed the appointment and called on Schabas to recuse himself.

“You can’t spend several years calling for the prosecution of someone, and then suddenly act as his judge,” UN Watch head Hillel Neuer said in a statement. “It’s absurd — and a violation of the minimal rules of due process applicable to UN fact-finding missions.”

In a scathing denouncement of Schabas’s appointment, Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Ron Prosor, called the appointment of Schabas equivalent to ISIS hosting a religious tolerance event:

Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations predicted on Wednesday that Jerusalem will not cooperate with the so-called “Schabas committee” that has been appointed to investigate alleged war crimes committed during Operation Protective Edge.

The Foreign Ministry said that Schabas’s appointment to head the panel proved that Israel cannot expect justice from this body.

“The report has already been written and the only question is who signs it,” the Foreign Ministry said.

In an interview with Army Radio, the Israeli envoy, Ron Prosor, expressed doubt regarding the legitimacy of the panel due to what is perceived by Jerusalem officials as a committee with a clear anti-Israel bias.

“Forming an investigatory committee headed by Schabas is like inviting ISIS to organize religious tolerance week at the UN,” Prosor told Army Radio.

I am pleased to be in good company with Ambassador Prosor who has used the same nickname as me for the UNHRC:

Ambassador Ron Prosor, Israel’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, on Tuesday said “the United Nations Human Rights Council set a new record for anti-Israel bias and proved once again, that it would be better named the ‘Human Wrongs Council’” because of its “complete travesty of justice” by inviting Professor William Schabas, “one of the most outspoken critics of Israel to serve as its judge and jury.”

It was not only Israel of course who objected to the anti-Israel opinions of the committee members:

Jewish organizations also condemned the creation of the commission and its appointments. The Anti-Defamation League called the panel “a farce” with the outcome “all-but preordained.”

“Here we go again,” said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. “As if on cue, the United Nations Human Rights Council has appointed a so-called ‘independent’ panel to investigate Israel’s conduct in the recent conflict in Gaza, with the outcome all-but preordained. This farce began with an illegitimate Council resolution and will predictably end with an illegitimate panel investigation and report, entirely biased against Israel, which places the blame squarely on Israel for ‘war crimes’ and other violations of international law and pays no attention to the terrorism of Hamas.”

In his last full day in office, former Israeli President Shimon Peres also objected to the creation of the commission in a joint press conference with the UN Secretary-General, who he called out for allowing UN-run schools in Gaza to be used by Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad as rocket depots and launchpads.

“We have seen this theater of the absurd before,” Foxman said. “The inquiry will be stacked against Israel through the appointment of individuals with anti-Israel bona fides like Professor William Schabas. Israel, understandably, will refuse to cooperate. And, finally, a harsh, biased and fundamentally flawed report will be issued, providing fodder to those who have already found Israel guilty on all counts and handing Hamas a phony victory in the court of public opinion.”

“Schabas has made comments critical of Israel’s leadership in the past, and participated in the 2012 Russell Tribunal on Palestine, a conference in which Israel is put on trial, with its guilt on war crimes fully presumed,” Foxman said. “Diène has served as U.N. Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance from 2002 to 2008 and as the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Côte d’Ivoire from 2011 to 2014.”

B’nai B’rith International said “the commission itself illegitimate as it was born of a UNHRC resolution that stridently excoriated Israel in advance of the ‘inquiry’ it launched and didn’t so much as mention Hamas by name. It was specifically designed to scrutinize not years of cross-border terrorist attacks against Israelis, but‎ rather Israel’s defensive response to them. Any suggestion that there is equivalence between terrorism and a state defending its civilians from that threat is both outrageous and unacceptable.”

Schabas tried to defend himself with the old “some of my best friends are Jews” routine, ludicrously saying that he was impartial, not anti-Israel.

The professor appointed to lead a United Nations inquiry into possible war crimes during the recent military campaign in the Gaza Strip defended his record to Israeli media Tuesday and said past statements that paint him as anti-Israel would have no bearing on his probe of the Gaza conflict.

Willam Schabas told Army Radio in an interview on Tuesday that he is not anti-Israel, has visited Israel in the past to give university presentations and is a member of the editorial board of a legal publication.

Israel dismissed the probe as one-sided and said the appointment of Schabas — who has called for both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and former president Shimon Peres to stand trial in the International Criminal Court in the Hague — proved the outcome of the report had been predetermined.

Asked about a comment made last year that he would most like to see Netanyahu stand trial in the Hague, Schabas said the comments were made in reference to the Goldstone Report, a UN Human Rights Council investigation that claimed Israel had committed war crimes during the 2008-2009 Operation Cast Lead by deliberately targeting civilians during fighting in the Gaza Strip.

“I didn’t prejudge him and I didn’t say he was guilty,” Schabas told Army Radio. “I was making a comment in the context of a discussion about the priorities of the International Criminal Court. I think probably every person in Israel has criticized the government in Israel at some point or other in their lives and the suggestion that I’ve delivered a verdict on this is wrong and unfair.”

He can wriggle all he likes, but his own words damn him:

Read the above words again and note his huge error. This from a supposed “expert” on the Middle East. He can’t even get his Prime Ministers right!  Yair Lapid puts him right:

Finance Minister Yair Lapid, in an interview with Channel 2 later on Tuesday evening, pointed out that it was former prime minister Ehud Olmert who was in office during Operation Cast Lead and not Netanyahu.

Schabas’s obsession with Netanyahu reveals the extent of his animosity towards the Prime Minister, and by extension towards Israel. How on earth can anyone expect Israel to get a fair hearing at the hands of an ignorant oaf of a bigot like that?

The Israeli press watchdog site Mida has another video of Schabas in an interview with Israeli TV in which he refuses to call Hamas a terror organization and where he does not walk back his error about Netanyahu.

Mida comments:

So even given the opportunity, Schabas did not recant or walk back his statement. He would like to see Netanyahu tried based on the findgins of the Goldstone Report. There’s only one problem: the Prime Minister responsible for the “alleged crimes” of Operation Cast Lead is none other than Ehud Olmert. Netanyahu was head of the opposition at the time and had nothing to do with it. Thus, already at the beginning of the interview, Schabas revealed his severe bias: as far as he’s concerned, Netanyahu is guilty regardless of the facts.

This wouldn’t be the first time Schabas had shown such an attitude towards Netanyahu. Already in 2010, he wrote an article in a law journal that Netanyahu is the man most likely to threaten Israel’s existence. His evidence? Netanyahu’s statement that “we face three strategic challenges: Iran’s nuclear program, rockets fired at us and the Goldstone Report.” Not Hamas, not Hizballah and not Iran – the greatest danger to Israel is its own Prime Minister, who dares to defy the word of UN legists and argue for the innocence of his country. According to this logic, Emil Zola was a traitor and a criminal for daring to charge the French Courts with falsely convicting Alfred Dreyfuss.

UN anti Israel biasAnd finally, as yet another reminder of the what the Human Wrongs Rights Council is all about, the Gatestone Institute has a very detailed article by Denis McEoin. Again, none of this will be new to most of my readers, but it always bears repeating (and sharing as widely as possible):

But expecting the UNHRC to carry out a fair, balanced or accurate investigation of anything involving the State of Israel is rather like asking the Organization of Islamic Cooperation [OIC] to carry out investigations into the persecution of Christians, Ahmadi Muslims, or Baha’is in Muslim countries.

Before the emergency session ended, Navi Pillay, the South African UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, who has her own office in New York, but supervises the Geneva-based UNHRC, warned the world that Israel may have committed war crimes by not doing enough to protect civilians. Pillay, however, has a long track record of demonizing Israel; it was she who was behind the infamous and totally discredited Goldstone Report of 2009, which accused Israel of deliberately targeting Gazan civilians — a finding that the report’s author, Richard Goldstone, later retracted, although Pillay did not.

We are still living in 1984. The UNHRC works to defend and even promote countries that abuse those rights, and to condemn one of the most rights-observant countries in the world — Israel. When anyone tries to take the floor at the UNHRC and reveal the truth about abusive states, watch the abusers press their buzzers and demand that the truth-teller be stopped from speaking. How many times have the vigilant and dedicated human rights activists Anne Bayefsky of Human Rights Voices or Hillel Neuer of UN Watch been attacked for speaking truth?

Watch the indefatigable Hillel Neuer here:

There’s much more at the link. Read it all. The article concludes:

Most disturbingly, both the UN Security Council and the UN General Assembly, while pussy-footing with the world’s most ostentatious human rights violators, cannot get savage enough with one of the world’s most tolerant and free countries, Israel. Between its formation in 1947 and 1991, the UN General Assembly has adopted 300 resolutions against Israel. In the year 2006-7, it issued 22 such resolutions — but not one about the Sudanese genocide then continuing in Darfur. The year before, Israel had pulled out of Gaza entirely in an effort to make peace. Yet the General Assembly passes 19 resolutions per year against Israel and almost none on any other state.

No fewer than three UN entities exist that are dedicated to furtherance of the Palestinian cause (which is, in its simplest form, dedicated to destroying Israel). There are no UN entities to advance the Israeli cause, which has always been to make peace with its neighbors and to help its citizens — mainly Christians, Muslims and Jews — build good lives for themselves. Never in history has a human institution for goodwill and peace among men been so betrayed by those who seek to use it for their own ends.

What is Israel supposed to do in these circumstances? No matter how much care we take in avoiding civilian casualties, no matter how much aid we allow through, no matter how many enemy civilians we treat in our field hospitals, no matter how much fuel, water and electricity are provided to the enemy civilians – at Israeli taxpayers’ expense I would add – all we get is a cold shower of intense condemnation in the UN and the international media.

Why do we bother at all? If we’re going to be accused of genocide, maybe we should go out and commit genocide. Then the world will be able to tell the difference.

At the moment all I feel is profound depression and nausea at the utter unfairness and injustice of it all.

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15 Responses to Israel’s adventures in UN-Wonderland

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  2. Hi Anne, I think that your (Israels) despair and nausea at never being given a fair go is EXACTLY the response israel haters r looking for. I no longer ask what else can Israel do. I know that Gaza 2014 has been fought legally & with evidence. Schabas will get nowhere even if he fancies himself as an int crim lawyer focusing on ” genocide”/”sociocide”……

    • anneinpt says:

      I don’t share your optimism Alan. Goldstone did enormous damage to Israel even though he eventually recanted. If you remember, his recanting was rejected by that same UN.

      And it’s not just words. As we’ve seen, these words cause governments to withhold vital arms and equipment for Israel. Words CAN kill.

      And anyway, why the HELL should we be the world’s whipping boy? I’m furious and fed up.

      • Absolutely agree with you re being a whipping boy. If we cant win the peace with the “Palestinians” then we make the times between skirmishes meaningful and productive.
        Words DO mean something, but by that same token, it will be words which will hog tie jew haters like Bill Schabas and his ilk.
        From my brief experience of the twitter world, there are many many good minds who will neutralise the Roths and Schabas of this world. And that will be a meaningful victory in itself.
        Be angry.
        Remain strong.
        Alan

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  4. Fay says:

    Great post Anne. Although I appreciate all your sentiments (and, of course, agree with them), I cannot bring myself to get perturbed, upset, annoyed or angry at anything that emanates from that body that calls itself the UN (United Nonsense, Unique Nitwit, Undone Nonsense, Unhinged Numbness, Unintentional Nihilist. Etcetera.

    That anyone, with even half a functioning brain cell gives credence to anything that emanates from that “entity”, transcends my comprehension.

    • anneinpt says:

      I have zero expectations of the UN Fay, but see my answer to Alan above.

      I feel literally physically ill at the unfairness of it all. It’s eating me up inside.

  5. Fay says:

    Oh, and I am absolutely ashamed that William Schabas is Canadian.

  6. Barney says:

    And I’m ashamed that he’s a professor at a British university!

  7. anneinpt says:

    Fay and Barney, I won’t hold it against you. 🙂

  8. Brian Goldfarb says:

    I’m with those who urge Israel not to co-operate with the farce that will be the UHNRC “investigation”. The quote from (it’s actually) “Alice Through the Looking Glass” has it absolutely right, and we need to amend it. Not just verdict first, etc, but Alice missed the “evidence first”, which comes before even verdict. Or has the UNHRC managed to forget that as well?

    And there are lawyers in charge? Gives the law a bad name.

  9. Philip Blue says:

    I share your frustration that the Human Rights Council doesn’t investigate enough, for example, crimes that seem likely to have taken place in, for example, Sri Lanka, CAR, Mali, Yemen, and so on. But nevertheless, it is a vast improvement on its predecessor, and it’s failings shouldn’t give other states, among them Israel (and for that matter the five UN permanent members) a free pass elsewhere. Customary international law is making a big and hopefully growing difference in terms of accountability of people for their crimes when other systems of justice don’t cut it.

    Hence why, as a Brit, I’m actually quite proud of the way (so far) that Britain has facilitated an ICC investigation into the actions of its soldiers in the last 10 years. Who knows if there will be a trial in the end. But I think it’s fair to say, justice is a good thing.

    As for Navi Pillay, she has consistently denounced war crimes across the world, so I don’t think it’s justified for Mida to say, ‘Pillay, however, has a long track record of demonizing Israel’. In fact, she has a long track record of calling out abuses (I’m sure with human frailty and therefore inconsistency) of human rights.

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