| For Immediate Release:
August 9, 2014
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This article by Anne Bayefsky originally appeared on JPost.
The UN formula for ravaging Israel by ignoring the criminal actions of its foes – and the foes of the civilized world – is breathtaking.
Not one of the UN speakers – the Secretary-General, the representative of the Office of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the UN Human Rights Commissioner, the UN’s MidEast envoy, the head of UNRWA – even uttered the word “tunnel.”
Israel was denounced for destroying “homes and neighborhoods” and “civilian infrastructure.” But the fact that Israel had destroyed an extraordinary labyrinth of 32 terror tunnels deep underground – running for miles, jam packed with explosives, opening near Israeli towns, and built for the sole purpose of killing Jews – somehow just got left out.
|A United Nations Security Council meeting at U.N. headquarters in
New York Photo: REUTERS
Terror tunnels also did not make it into repeated references to “root causes.” Hamas’ promise to kill Jews and “obliterate” Israel did not count as a root cause of the conflict either. At the UN, “root cause” is reserved for the Israeli “occupation” – that is, the non-existent Jews that have not lived in Gaza for eight years.
Part of the reason that Palestinian hate-speech does not make it on to the UN agenda is that the UN has no definition of terrorism. In UN circles, Hamas is not a terrorist organization, but a welcome member of the Palestinian “unity” government.
This may help explain why UN actors have difficulty distinguishing a Palestinian combatant from a civilian, and have no hesitation heavily relying on Hamas-affiliated sources for casualty figures. At the General Assembly, UN representatives repeatedly talked about 1,800 dead in total; some referred to 1,350 civilian casualties.
The numbers game was sufficiently confusing – or maybe not – to the European Union that its representative told the assembled: “We condemn the terrible loss of almost 2,000 lives” – genocidal Hamas killers included.
The Secretary-General, UNRWA, and OCHA all called for an immediate “reconstruction effort” – that is, more concrete for Hamas that the UN will not ensure will be used for peaceful purposes.
Disturbing evidence of possible UNRWA complicity in Hamas attacks, which warranted a full investigation, was ignored. The facts that UNRWA schools have been used as Hamas rocket storage facilities and that the immediate vicinity of UNRWA schools have been used as staging grounds for Hamas rocket attacks were shrugged off with an implausible “we had no clue,” a de minimis naughty-naughty, or a lecture about overcrowding.
Meanwhile, UNRWA chief Pierre Krähenbühl had the audacity to complain of Israeli actions that inadvertently have damaged its schools: “we cannot comprehend why they occurred.”
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon added this whopper: “there were reports that Hamas rockets were fired from near UN premises. Yet, let me be clear: Mere suspicion of militant activity does not justify jeopardizing the lives and safety of many thousands of innocent civilians.”
Mere suspicion? The video and photographic substantiation is in the public domain. And the lives and safety of the 3.5 million innocent Israelis jeopardized by those rockets were deftly omitted from this equation.
UN Mideast envoy Robert Serry simply refused to blame Hamas for rejecting or violating the ceasefires or to acknowledge that Israel had done the opposite. To the UN, the terrorist organization and the democratic state are equals. Or as Serry put it: “each time a ceasefire expired, despite our best efforts to extend it, the violence raged on and claimed more victims…”
Topping the agenda is the start of a UN-driven global witchhunt for Israeli servicemen and women – or in UN terms, war criminals.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay has already succeeded in launching another Goldstone-type inquiry via a UN Human Rights Council special session that took place on July 23, 2014. Just as she helped cook the books for the original 2009 Goldstone report, Pillay started by telling the Council that Israel’s “disregard for international humanitarian law…was shockingly evident.” Then she said “these incidents must be properly and independently investigated...” Pillay’s specialty: being UN judge, jury, and executioner.
Before the General Assembly on August 6, 2014 Pillay went farther. She aggressively pushed “the need for the International Criminal Court to address the situation.”
And the Palestinian Authority is actively considering accepting the jurisdiction of the Court, daring the U.S. Congress to respond to an American and Israeli “red line,” since this would render peace negotiations pointless. Why negotiate with a party that the Court is poised to debilitate?
While the General Assembly was fixated on slandering Israel, here is some of what was going on elsewhere in the real world.
In Iraq in July alone, 1,600 died. 5,576 civilians were killed by the Islamist terror organization ISIS and other Sunnis in the first six months of 2014. Another 40,000 members of religious minorities in Iraq are being starved and face immediate slaughter. In Syria in the second half of July alone, 2,000 Syrians were killed. The Islamist terror group Boko Haram has killed 2,053 in the first half of 2014. In Ukraine, 1,129 people have been killed since mid-April, and Russian tanks are lined up on the border.
But there have been no “informal” or “emergency” sessions of the General Assembly on any of these issues. In fact, there have been no “emergency” sessions of the General Assembly on any country but Israel since 1997. There have been no special sessions of the Human Rights Council on Iraq, Nigeria or Ukraine. And the last special session of the Council on Syria took place way back in June 2012.
In the face of this inversion of right and wrong, the Obama administration lined up – on the wrong side.
Rosemary A. DiCarlo, the U.S. Deputy UN Permanent Representative, told the General Assembly that the administration was “horrified at the strikes that hit UNRWA schools” – knowing full well that Israel had confirmed the school was not targeted, that Hamas operatives fired mortar shells repeatedly from the area surrounding the school, that the more precise circumstances were being carefully and expeditiously examined by Israel, and that UN allegations could not be taken at face value.
Compare the U.S. remarks to the statement made by the Canadian UN Ambassador Guillermo Rishchynski, a true friend of Israel. Canada told the General Assembly: “the responsibility for the death and the destruction that we have witnessed in recent weeks are attributable solely to Hamas.”
That is exactly the point. If a hostage is abducted, and police fire a shot that kills the hostage despite valiant efforts to target the hostage-taker, the death of the hostage is attributable solely to the abductor. Palestinian civilians are hostage to the violent criminals who use them as human shields.
Clearly, Israel cannot count on the Obama administration. So the prospect of an American abstention on a Security Council resolution on Gaza now looms over Israel’s head – providing undeserved comfort to the enemies of both Israel and America.
Anne Bayefsky is director of the Touro Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust. Follow her @AnneBayefsky.
For more human rights and United Nations coverage see www.HumanRightsVoices.org.
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