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Monday, March 02, 2015

Why the Schabas Report will be every bit as biased as the Goldstone Report

Until he was forced out a month ago when it was discovered that he had worked for the PLO, William Schabas headed the United Nations 'human rights council's commission of inquiry into Israel's summer 2014 Operation Protective Edge. The UN has tried arguing that Schabas' resignation means the report won't be biased. That's nonsense. But not for the reason you think. In a lengthy article published by the Tower, Hillel Neuer explains how Richard Goldstone was duped when he headed the Commission of Inquiry into Operation Cast Lead in 2009, and how as much as Schabas was anti-Israel, his presence or absence on the Commission likely made little difference.
There seems no question that Goldstone was duped. He never suspected that OHCHR, the UN agency in charge of providing him with professional staff support, had quietly embedded one of the world’s top anti-Israel lawfare strategists into the team. After all, only four years before, Goldstone had worked on another UN inquiry on the oil-for-food program. In that case, he was supported by a highly professional staff based in New York, with most if not all of them lawyers and experts hired from the outside. Goldstone assumed the Gaza inquiry would be the same.
But it was not the same. The culture of the Geneva-based OHCHR secretariat is known to be far more anti-American, anti-colonial, and anti-Israel than the one in New York. In his naiveté, Goldstone was blind to the prejudice and political agenda of his own bureaucracy. Indeed, there is not the slightest indication that Goldstone had any knowledge of Baars’ extremist activism. But OHCHR knew—and that is why they hired her.
On March 23, what for six months was the Schabas Commission, and now in its final and seventh month has become the McGowan Davis Commission, will present its report to the Human Rights Council. Do we have any reason to expect a fair, objective, and credible report?
Not if we consider the built-in prejudice of the commission’s founding mandate, spelled out in resolution S-21/1 of July 23, 2014, which preemptively declares Israel guilty. It condemns the Jewish state “in the strongest terms,” citing “widespread, systematic, and gross violations of international human rights,” “the targeting of civilians and civilian properties” as a form of “collective punishment contrary to international law,” “disproportionate and indiscriminate attacks,” “grave violations of the human rights of the Palestinian civilian population,” and “military aggressions.” The resolution mentions Israel 18 times. Hamas is not mentioned once.
Not if we consider that Schabas, the activist chairman who says that he “devoted several months of work” to the project, is someone who performed undisclosed paid legal work for the PLO—on the subject of how to prosecute Israelis in international courts—and who famously declared barely three years ago that the leader he most wants to see in the dock at the International Criminal Court is Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
And—as the cautionary tale of lawfare general Grietje Baars as the key author of the original Goldstone Report makes clear—not if we consider the outsized role played by OHCHR in compiling the evidence, processing submissions, and picking the people to draft the report’s chapters and conclusions. Everything we now know about how OHCHR engineered the travesty of the original Goldstone Report indicates that Goldstone II will suffer the same politically-motivated fate.
Read the whole thing. The woman whose picture is at the top of this post is Grietje Baars, whose name you probably never heard until today.

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