Monday, March 18, 2013

UN Human Rights Council And The Creation of Apartheid Palestine

For Immediate Release:
March 17, 2013
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This article by Anne Bayefsky originally appeared in The Jerusalem Post on March 17th.

It is impossible to read this latest UN report, or to listen to its authors and its state sponsors, without knowing that the campaign to rid the world of Israeli settlements is a campaign to rid the world of Israel.

On Monday, March 17 in Geneva, the UN Human Rights Council will hold a first-ever three-hour session devoted to the alleged human rights abomination known as the “Israeli settlement.” In the moral wasteland of the United Nations, a Jew living on Arab-claimed land is a violation of Arab human rights.

There were once an estimated 900,000 Jews across the Arab world, but today there are less than a few thousand. They were given a choice: die, convert or flee.

Now the 22nd Judenrein Arab state is in-the-making: Apartheid Palestine.

Meanwhile, 20 percent of Israel’s population is Arab, and free Arab citizens sit on the highest courts of the land, represent Israel abroad, and hold political office. An Arab living (and thriving) in the Jewish state is fulfilling a human right.

How does this obvious contradiction make it past the human rights geniuses at the UN?

The answer is almost as old as humankind: intolerance, xenophobia, bigotry and lawyers.

On the table in Geneva will be a report produced by three lawyers carefully selected by the UN brass.

The first item of business brushed aside by these legal beagles was that the conclusion of their so-called “fact-finding mission” was decided before they ever got started. Their job description, laid out by the Human Rights Council, was “to investigate the implications of the Israeli settlements on the... rights of the Palestinian people.” But the same resolution already says: “Affirming that the Israeli settlement activities... constitute very serious violations... of the human rights of the Palestinian people.”

Then there was the irrelevant issue of the bias of the fact-finders.

Pakistani “expert” Asma Jahangir has already had numerous UN jobs (as has her sister Hina Jilani, one of four authors of the UN’s infamous Goldstone Report). In 2004, as UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Jahangir took the extraordinary step of issuing a special statement exclaiming she was “aghast at the planned and deliberate extrajudicial execution of Hamas spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin.”

When Israel killed Yassin’s successor, Abdul Aziz Rantissi – with zero civilian casualties – Jahangir “sent a communication to the Government of Israel” worried that Israeli helicopters had fired “into the civilian car of Dr. Abdul Aziz al-Rantisi, a senior Hamas political leader.” No matter that their terrible acts had led US authorities to name both men as “specially designated global terrorists,” or that as combatants in a war they were not entitled to judicial process.

French “expert” Christine Chanet is on record as having told a UN treaty body meeting in July 2010 that settlements impose “severe” impediments to Palestinian rights.

Her decisions as a member of the UN Human Rights Committee are also revealing. In 2001 she dissented when the Committee decided that a Jewish citizen of the Czech Republic had been denied equal protection of the law after Czech authorities failed to provide restitution for property plundered by the Nazis. Chanet reasoned that by deciding in favor of the Jewish victim, the Committee was wrongly “involving itself in the assessment of evidence by the domestic courts.”

But in 2004, Chanet dissented when the Committee decided not to pursue the complaint of a professor who alleged he was denied an academic promotion because of his perceived anti-Israel and anti-Semitic views. In the case of the alleged anti-Jewish victim, Chanet reasoned in the opposite direction. She said the Committee erred in refusing to reassess the professor’s record of performance because the right answer was to “be determined not in the light of the complaint as made before a domestic court.”

The third judge, Unity Dow from Botswana, has been on the Executive Committee of the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) since 2006, and was chairperson of the Executive Committee from June 2011 to June 2012. During that time, the ICJ played a leading role in pressing for and supporting the Goldstone report and its libelous accusation that Israeli defense forces deliberately targeted Palestinian civilians.

It is hardly surprising, therefore, that these legal minds produced a report on settlements that looks like law but smells like rubbish.

The report objects to “Settlement Master Plans.” The capitalized terminology is invented by the reports’ authors and is an unmistakable allusion to the deportation “masterplan” of Nazi SS chief Heinrich Himmler. The report has one annex. It begins: “Timeline – Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestine Territory 1948.” Not 1967.

The report provides a “list of selected sources” upon which it relied, and links to them are helpfully provided by the UN website. A submission by the International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists was deliberately excluded. Included are sources that claim Israel is deliberately dumping “waste” in the territories to increase cancer and miscarriages among Palestinians, that object to Israel’s “Law of Return” – the foundation of Zionism, and that place Israeli “security” in quotation marks on the grounds that the issue deliberately “masks an intent” to impose “a system of domination by one racial group over another.”

In short, the UN got exactly what it asked for.

Just as predictable is Monday’s so-called “interactive dialogue” between UN states and these “fact-finders.” Only last November the General Assembly Hall echoed with the hate speech of 120 members of political blocs like the Non-Aligned Movement and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, as well as individual states. The word “settler” was always preceded by “extremist” or “racist.” And “inhuman” “racist” “cruel” Israel was committing a “crime against humanity,” a “genocidal blockade,” “a regime of closure without precedent anywhere on earth,” and “indiscriminately killing civilians.”

It is impossible to read this latest UN report, or to listen to its authors and its state sponsors, without knowing that the campaign to rid the world of Israeli settlements is a campaign to rid the world of Israel.

And yet, at the UN, apartheid Palestine is a human right.

The writer is Director of the Touro Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust, @AnneBayefsky

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