As I wrote a couple of weeks ago, ahead of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC)’s investigation of Israel’s alleged “war crimes” during Operation Protective Edge last summer, Israel went the extra mile and invited a panel of international military experts to investigate the IDF’s conduct during the war. This panel concluded that Israel had not only not committed any war crimes, it had gone too far in protecting the enemy’s civilians!
Despite the conclusions of this expert panel, as I posted last week, the UN Human
Rights Wrongs Council published its “findings” after its “investigation” into the war crimes committed by Israel and Hamas during Operation Protective Edge. The reason I put “findings” and “investigation” in scare quotes is that the entire inquiry was flawed from the outset, as you can read in my above-linked post.
On Friday, the UNHRC got around to discussing this biased and false report, and held a vote on it. And SURPRISE! (not), Israel was condemned. Really, I oughtn’t to bother writing this post at all. After all, it would only be real news if the UN had exonerated Israel. Finding Israel guilty – of anything at all – seems to be the UN’s raison d’etre nowadays.
Last Monday Israel’s Ambassador to the UNHRC in Geneva boycotted the day’s session in protest, calling it “morally flawed”:
Eviatar Manor, who represents Israel in the UNHRC, did not attend the day’s session in protest and instead delivered a scathing condemnation outside the UN building in Geneva.
“I am out here and not in there because the Human Rights Council has abandoned fairness, has become morally flawed and has entirely politicized its concern for universal human rights,” Manor told reporters.
During the three-hour debate boycotted by Manor, the representatives of Saudi Arabia and Venezuela referred to Israel as a “racist regime” that had a “genocidal aggression,” drawing the criticism of the head of the council.
Asked whether Israel would again consider boycotting the Human Rights Council altogether — as it did for more than a year, starting in March 2012, over the council’s plans to probe how Jewish settlements were harming Palestinian rights — Manor said that depended on the final language of a resolution to be tabled this week, based on the report.
“I cannot predict now what the government’s reaction will be,” he commented.
I seriously think that Manor understated the moral opprobrium with which the UNHRC should be held. I also fervently hope and pray that Israel leaves the UNHRC permanently, like it did once before. But this time we should leave and stay gone. Why should Israel grace the UNHRC with its presence, only to be lambasted and slammed and slandered by such human rights luminaries as Saudi Arabia and Yemen time and again, and every time with no support whatsoever from any of our Western friends besides the US. And I mean every Western friend. For example see how most of the EU, including our “best friends” voted against Israel when it was condemned as the world’s worst violator of health rights. I kid you not.
So Friday’s session was really more of the same old same old when the UNHRC approved the Schabas-inspired, McGowan executed flawed report on war crimes violations during the Gaza War, though Raphael Ahren seems to think it will be of little practical consequence:
It came as no surprise whatsoever that the United Nations Human Rights Council on Friday approved a resolution backing the controversial McGowan Davis report on last summer’s 50-day Israel-Hamas war.
The European Union deliberated until virtually the last minute on how to vote, but eventually decided to throw its full support behind the resolution welcoming a report that Israel considers to be deeply biased and skewed. The desire among the Europeans to speak with one voice eventually led even Germany to vote yes, in what will be perceived as a particularly painful sting in Jerusalem. As so often happens, only the US rejected the resolution.
Our sincere thanks should go to the US who, despite the serious tensions between Obama and Netanyahu, still came to our defence in the end.
But even if Israel had succeeded in splitting the European vote into many yeses and a few abstentions, the automatic Arab majority in the 47-member council meant that the end result was never in doubt.
In which case what is the point of the whole exercise? Seriously, what on earth are we doing there?
Israeli diplomats in Geneva spent many hours trying to persuade their colleagues to vote against the resolution. Several Israeli politicians, from the coalition and opposition, sent letters urging council members to reject draft resolution A/HRC/29/L/35. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu invited the ambassadors of the countries sitting on the council to Jerusalem for a special briefing (though according to a diplomat who was there, he spoke mostly about Iran).
The bad news is obvious: Once again, Israel was let down not only by the usual suspects, but also by countries that it considers its friends.
There may be some slight good news:
The less bad news? The resolution also could have gone much further. It stopped short, for instance, of calling for sanctions against Israel or referring the matter to the UN Security Council, which would have meant a bigger headache for Israel than a largely meaningless resolution at the Human Rights Council.
Indeed, the Palestinians’ initial draft was much harsher in its one-sided condemnation of Israel, but was altered significantly in exchange for that European support.
But on the other hand…
The draft that was finally voted on made several concessions, though this was all part of Ramallah’s plan, according to some experts. Observers critical of the European voting pattern claimed that it’s always the same game: the Palestinians intentionally include extremely harsh and unbalanced language in their first draft so they can appear conciliatory by agreeing to make some changes. Once again, these experts argued, Ramallah succeeded in making the EU feel that it had to reward such ostensible flexibility with a “yes” vote.
“The fact that the entire EU voted in favor of a UN resolution on the Gaza war that never once mentions rockets or tunnels or Hamas, and directly ‘deplores’ only Israel, is shocking — even for the EU,” fumed Anne Bayefsky, the director of the Touro Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust.
And what do we have to look forward to?
The final draft … recommends the UN General Assembly take on the matter “until it is satisfied that appropriate action” is taken to implement the report’s recommendations.
What that means is that in a few weeks the nations of the world will gather in New York to once again condemn Israel’s behavior during the last Gaza war.
In response to the UN Farce, UN Watch organized a side event similar to the panel of military experts that Israel had invited on its own initiative to examine its conduct during the war.
You can watch the video here:
You can also watch the esteemed indefatigable defender of Israel’s moral and military record, Col. Richard Kemp, speaking at the UNHRC before the vote before being rudely cut off (h/t Israellycool):
Here too is General Mike Jones slamming the UNHRC for its flawed Gaza report:
Not that any of it made the slightest difference. But it’s important that these defences of Israel and condemnations of the UN’s absurd methodology are on the public record.
There was more support of Israel going on outside the UNHRC. In a very heart-warming display of support, as the UN was busy bashing Israel, Christians and Jews joined together in a demonstration outside the UNHRC in Geneva:
As Jews and Christians from across Europe gathered at Place Des Nations across from the UN Human Rights Council building in Geneva on Monday to protest the latest Gaza report, a familiar Israeli tune played in the background.…It was my duty to come,” said Abramo Eman, who left Milan at 6:30 a.m. aboard one of five Italian buses chartered for the event. “We are one people, one heart, one problem.”
“I hope people will admit that the UN is acting unjustly,” he added. “But I don’t really count on that.”
Indeed, the rally felt less like a protest against an irreparably biased international institution than an opportunity for members of small Jewish communities across Europe to come together and commiserate.
The Israeli government has decided to sit this struggle out, yielding the floor to a plethora of nongovernmental organizations to fill the void in Geneva who were championing Israel’s case through solidarity rallies or press events within the UN building.
As the Commission of Inquiry presented its findings to a committee in Geneva on Monday afternoon, some 1,000 pro-Israel demonstrators rallied outside.
Tzvi Avisar, founder and CEO of Over the Rainbow, a group dedicated to strengthening Zionist communities worldwide, said his organization decided to organize the rally “in order to create physical visibility” for Israel. In collaboration with the World Jewish Congress and other groups, it brought 650 participants to Geneva, busing nearly half of them from northern Italy.
“There’s a silent majority out there. Many [Jewish] communities prefer to avoid exposure or media coverage,” Avisar told The Times of Israel. “They fear anti-Semitism, or being associated with criticism of Israel. We get the sense that the street is dominated by BDS [boycott, divestment and sanction] organizations and other pro-Palestinian groups.”
Chaggai Ganani, an aerospace engineering student from Rotterdam in the Netherlands, boarded a bus full of Christian and Jewish supporters of Israel at 10 p.m. the previous night and crossed France to take part in the rally. Gathered by the CIDI, a pro-Israel Dutch organization, his group of 35 would be losing another night’s sleep on the return trip.
The Christian presence was significant at the rally, with church members from Hungary, Italy and Germany holding up large banners specifying their religious affiliation.
Jeannette Noteboom, a Brussels resident active with the European Coalition for Israel, said it was important for her to show Jews and Israelis that “they’re not alone.”
“We don’t all think like these people in the UN. We aren’t in agreement with anything they’re saying or doing,” she said, adding that European media would likely ignore the event, dubbing participants “crazy Israel supporters.”
Sister Lebona, an American member of the German Order of the Evangelical Sisterhood of Mary, said her ministry supports Israel “because they’re God’s chosen people from the Bible.” Nearby, Michael Hube of Stuttgart, Germany, stood draped in a blue and white flag of the Jerusalem municipality.
If only the voices of these good and righteous people could be amplified ten-thousand fold. Perhaps we could then make a dent in the smug self-righteousness of the bigots and antisemites at the UNHRC.
Meanwhile, I’ll leave the last word to Hillel Neuer of UN Watch: