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Monday, November 23, 2009

Anne Bayefsky stripped of UN credentials

I had heard that Anne Bayefsky of UN Watch had been thrown out of the United Nations because of a speech she made at the General Assembly the day that it voted to refer the Goldstone Report to the Security Council. What I did not realize is that Bayefsky (whom I greatly admire - I believe that she's brilliant) was actually barred from returning to the United Nations, having been stripped of her credentials as an NGO representative.
Ms. Bayefsky's sin was a two-minute talk she delivered at the U.N. earlier this month after the General Assembly had issued a resolution endorsing the Goldstone Report, which levels war crimes charges at Israel for defending itself in the face of Hamas's rockets. "The resolution doesn't mention the word Hamas," she said. "This is a resolution that purports to be even-handed; it is anything but."

Ms. Bayefsky's comments were the only note of criticism on a day otherwise marked by much U.N. jubilation. Whereupon she was summarily stripped of her U.N. badge and evicted from the premises. "The Palestinian ambassador is very upset by your statement," Ms. Bayefsky says the U.N. security chief told her. Journalist Matthew Russell Lee tells us that he heard the ambassador asking whether U.N. security had "captured" Ms. Bayefsky.

For the record, the U.N. claims that Ms. Bayefsky violated procedures by bringing a colleague who lacked a proper badge, and that she was not entitled to speak where she did, though representatives of nongovernment organizations have used it in the past. And when we called the Palestinian Mission to get their side of the story, they told us the fracas was the last of their worries. Maybe so.

Yet the U.N. continues to bar Ms. Bayefsky from the premises, despite calls on her behalf by the U.S. mission and Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel. Best-case scenario, one U.N. insider tells us, is that "they'll put her on probation." We hear the U.N.'s NGO accreditation committee, chaired by Sudan, will likely make the final decision.
Where is the Obama administration, which ought to be protecting this brilliant, articulate woman's right to freedom of expression? Where are the other Western purported powers? For that matter, why has Israel (apparently) not spoken up on her behalf? Could there be anything much more absurd than having the likes of Sudan determine whether she should be allowed back into the United Nations?

George Orwell is the only person who could have imagined this ridiculous scenario.


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