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Thursday, January 31, 2013

And again: Israel under attack at 'human rights council' and in the New York Times

A special commission of the United Nations' 'human rights council' - the 6th in the last 6.5 years to deal with Israel - is to release a report late Thursday morning regarding the effects of the Jewish villages in Judea and Samaria on the 'human rights' of the 'Palestinians' who also live in Judea and Samaria. Because Israel did not cooperate with the commission (and does not cooperate with the 'council'), and did not allow its members to enter 'Area C,' which is where the Jewish population of Judea and Samaria lives, or anyplace within the 1949 armistice lines, I am violating one of my own blogging rules by doing a post regarding the fact that the report is being released rather than waiting for the report itself. Of course, the question that needs to be asked is why the Government of Israel chose to let the commission into Areas A and B (where 'Palestinians' live) given that we control their borders....
Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said that the best way to address the issue of settlements was through a negotiated peace process, but that the Palestinians have refused to talk directly with Israel.
“The question of settlements, as everyone knows, is one of the core issues between Israel and the Palestinians. It will not find any solution outside the framework of negotiations,” he said.
If the council wants to contribute to human rights, it should do its utmost to enable the resumption of peace talk, he said.
“Publishing a one-sided and biased report will only add insult to injury, and confusion to the distortion,” he said.
The three-member panel on the fact-finding mission, Christine Chanet of France, Asma Jahangir of Pakistan and Unity Dow of Botswana, plan to hold a press conference in Geneva on Thursday to discuss their report.
The Human Rights Council is set to debate the report on March 18.
Meanwhile, the New York  Times continues to hammer away at Israel. The paper, whose motto seems to be 'all the anti-Semitism that's unfit to print,' followed up on Wednesday's one-sided op-ed by radical 'Palestinian' professor George Bisharat by publishing an editorial taking Israel to task for refusing to cooperate with its 'universal periodic review' at the 'human rights council,' and accusing it of 'ducking' on 'human rights' (Hat Tip: Soccer Dad).
The council hasn’t always been an effective human rights champion. But its record, including naming human rights rapporteurs for Iran and Sudan and supporting gay and lesbian rights, has improved since President Obama, reversing policy of the George W. Bush administration, had the United States join the council in 2009.
Human rights reviews are an important tool for judging all countries by universal standards and nudging them to make positive changes. By opting out, Israel shows not only an unwillingness to undergo the same scrutiny as all other countries, but it deprives itself of an opportunity to defend against abuse charges. The decision could also undermine the entire review process by providing an excuse for states with terrible human rights records — like North Korea, Iran and Zimbabwe — to withdraw as well. It certainly will make it harder for Washington to argue for reviews when an ally rejects the process.
If the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hoped to avoid criticism by this move, it failed. Fortunately, there is still a chance to make the right decision. In an extraordinary move, the council agreed to give Israel until November to reverse course. Any new governing coalition that emerges from Israel’s recent elections should realize that there’s a cost to standing apart.
The Times'  willful blindness to what the 'council' is and what it represents is beyond appalling. The 'council' has nothing to do with the protection of human rights (note - without the scare quotes this time) and everything to do with promoting the use of 'human rights' as a means of bashing Israel as was decided at the Durban I conference in 2001. That is why the 'council' has had nothing to say while 60,000 Syrians have been murdered by the Assad regime in the last two years, and that is why the 'council' had nothing to say about the green revolution in Iran in 2009 (behavior in which the Obama administration was unfortunately and shamefully complicit). .

There is no reason for countries like North Korea, Iran and Zimbabwe to skip their universal periodic reviews because, unlike Israel, which is the only democracy in the Middle East and the only place in the world in which Arab Christians and Muslims have human rights, countries like North Korea, Iran and Zimbabwe will benefit from the automatic pass of the Organization of Islamic Countries at the Council. For example, look at this description of Syria's last universal periodic review by Anne Bayefsky:
So here’s how the UPR rubber hit the road of crimes against humanity in Syria. On October 7, 2011, the Syrian vice-minister of foreign affairs and his entourage took their places in the Council chamber.  And then the Cubans said: “the Syrian government is working for the human rights of its people.”  The North Koreans said: “we commend Syria on its efforts taken to maintain security and stability.” The Iranians said: “we appreciate the efforts of the government of Syria to promote and protect human rights.”  Ditto Sudan, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Algeria, Lebanon, China, Zimbabwe, Burma/Myanmar, and so on.  
Four days later, on behalf of the three countries charged with compiling recommendations, Mexico reported to the Council:  “Syria received a total of 179 recommendations…It is a pleasure to inform you that 98 recommendations were accepted and 26 shall be considered.” Among the recommendations that "did not enjoy the support" of Syria were “immediately end attacks on peaceful protesters and bring violators to account,” “put an end to secret detentions” and “allow journalists to freely exercise their profession.” At the end of this stage of the UPR, the President of the Council turned to Syria and signed off with “I thank both you and your delegation for your participation in the UPR.”
At the time, there were 2,600 dead Syrian citizens at the hands of their own government. And Assad got the message about the human rights bona fides of the UN.  
The next and final stage of the UPR took place in Geneva on March 15, 2012 – by which time there were 11,000 dead.  On that occasion, the Council formally adopted the so-called “outcome” of the UPR – a report containing no findings and no decision to take action.  It was gaveled through without comment from the President with these words:  “May I now propose that the Council adopts the decision on the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of Syria?”  I see no objection.”
There are now over 60,000 dead in Syria.
And the Times is 'worried' that Israel not showing up will lead North Korea, Iran and Zimbabwe not to show up? Why? 

The Torah warns us that the Jewish people are not counted among the nations of the world (Numbers 23:9). Historically the Jewish people have been willing to be isolated, and have been willing to stand apart when it was the right and moral thing to do, but we have never been willing to do the wrong thing just because the world wants us to do the wrong thing. Having our 'human rights' record reviewed by a hostile 'council' in which our friends are automatically outvoted is destructive and not constructive. Contrary to the Times' claim, the standards applied are not universal, as can be seen from Ms. Bayefsky's summary of the Syrian review above.

Taking a moral stand against the outrageous behavior of the 'human rights council' is the right and moral thing to do, even if the self-proclaimed protectors of morality at the New York Times cannot see it. We can only hope and pray that any new government that takes charge in Israel between now and November will not see fit to debase itself or the Jewish people in the immoral slime of the 'human rights council.'

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