Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Mideast Media Sampler 6/12/13: Richard Falk -- The UN Watchdog Who Doesn't Like Being Watched

by David Gerstman, contributing blogger at Legal Insurrection

1) How can you tell the difference between a terrorist organization and a liberal democracy?

The title is a trick question. In international fora, the terrorist organization gets a lot more respect.
Last week the Ireland led the way to prevent the European Union from designating Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.
Ireland is reportedly blocking efforts inside the European Union to formally blacklist Hezbollah as a terror organization. Britain recently initiated procedures to add the Iran-backed terror group to the E.U. blacklist, after Bulgarian officials linked Hezbollah to the July 2012 Burgas bombing that killed six civilians and a Cypriot court convicted a confessed Hezbollah member on terrorism-related charges. The U.S. has repeatedly called upon the E.U. to follow its example and ban the group, which has established deep roots on the Continent.
Even as Hezbollah's reach is seen in South America and Syria the European Union refuses to sanction the terror group operating within its borders.

But when it comes to Israel, the world is more intent on preparing a final solution.
In the farcically named UN Human Rights Council, 67 nations and organizations heartily approved the report of asylum escapee, Richard Falk, condemning Israel. In a just world someone like Falk would issue his statements from behind the walls of an institution, but in the topsy-turvey world of the UN he is a respected "Special Rapporteur." Naturally, in this venue he received support from even the world's worst rights abusers. Look at how they piled on.
During the interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur, speakers condemned Israel’s persistent refusal to cooperate with the Special Rapporteur and expressed concerns at the persistence of settlement activities and human rights violations, including restrictions on movement, arrests and harassment of Palestinians, and the particular effects on children. They highlighted the need to put an end to impunity for human rights violations. Speakers regretted the deterioration of the situation in Gaza due to the ongoing blockade and the loss of civilian lives. Some delegations echoed the proposal of the Special Rapporteur to investigate the activities of businesses connected with Israeli settlement activity. Others complained about the unbalanced mandate of the Special Rapporteur and the presence of political considerations in his report. Mr. Falk was accused of being anti-Semitic. 
Speaking in the discussion were Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the European Union, Mauritania, Egypt, South Africa, Algeria on behalf of the Arab Group, Indonesia, Iceland, Jordan, Lebanon, Tunisia, Iran on behalf of the Non Aligned Movement, Iraq, Qatar, Cuba, Ecuador, Angola, Venezuela, Kuwait, Chile, Morocco, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia, Djibouti, Syria, Algeria, Turkey, Iran, Maldives, Zimbabwe, the United Nations Children’s Fund and Malaysia.
No, you didn't misread. Syria - whose government has killed more than 80,000 over the past two years - and its patron, Iran (of the laughably named "non-aligned movement) sit in judgment of Israel in this venue. In the asylum that is the UN, this is hardly remarkable.

Richard Falk
Richard Falk, watchdog who doesn't like being watched.
Credit: UN Watch

There were, however two speeches that weren't anti-Israel and were, instead, indictments of the "human rights" establishment.

One was by Anne Bayefsky; the other by Hillel Neuer.
Mr. Falk, in the first page of your report, you attack my NGO and ask this Council to launch an investigation in order to shut us down. 
Does your report allege a crime? No, you simply object to our words. We are the only watchdog at the UN, and we report what you say. In reprisal, you now seek to muzzle our voice, to avoid being held accountable. 
The real issue is whether your work, conducted under the banner of human rights, actually exonerates and exculpates the perpetrators of terrorism.

2) Smacking Friedman down, again

Last week I took issue with Thomas Friedman's Israel lives the Joseph Story.

But I missed a major goof.
And the world for the most part would not begrudge Israel keeping its forces on the Jordan River — as will be necessary given the instability beyond — if it ceded most of the West Bank and Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem.
Elder of Ziyon:
Oh, and don't forget Friedman's other "if-then" fallacy here - that the world would allow Israel to keep the Jordan Valley as a buffer if only it would offer the Palestinian Arabs a state. Wasn't that already offered and rejected?
Meryl Yourish:
The bolded phrase contradicts all of the Palestinian statements made about Israel keeping any soldiers in the West Bank. In point of fact, the Palestinians absolutely begrudge Israel a force on the Jordan.
My Right Word:
Well, I do not know about the "world" but the Pals. would certainly not agree.
Friedman loves to pose as someone who understands simple truths that those in power (especially in Israel) fail to appreciate. But here he shows that he hasn't been paying attention to the past twenty years of the peace process. Maybe in 1993 an Israeli presence in the Jordan Valley was an accommodation would have made. It is no longer.

3) Soccer news

Despite efforts of anti-Israel activists to prevent it, Israel hosted this year's UEFA (European soccer's governing body) under 21 championship. Israel did not advance in the tournament. However, the Israeli team did win its final match in Jerusalem against England. Ofir Krieff, of the Israeli team, scored the game winning goal.
To score in the capital city, in my home town, in front of my home fans, is a fantastic feeling. We did a really good job. The credit goes to the team and not to me even though I scored. It's all thanks to the great work of the staff and the players. 
I think that we had a really good tournament overall. To win four points against these kind of teams is a big achievement. We had some criticism and it wasn't always right. This team has a lot of potential and we proved it today against England which is nothing to take for granted. 
When I scored I just thought that we had finally got the win after this hard work. The credit goes to Guy [Luzon]. It was highly important to finish with a good taste because of him and I'm happy that we gave him this goodbye present. "I wanted to run over to him but afterwards I saw nothing because everybody was all over me".
One of Israel's top players was Taleb Twatha:
This is a 20-year-old, after all, from a world far removed from the one he now inhabits as a professional footballer. Defender Twatha is from a Bedouin family, born and brought up in Jisr az-Zarqa, a coastal town in the north of Israel which did not even have a football pitch when he was growing up. 
"We have only 13,000 people in Jisr," the left-back explained to "Jisr is a very poor town and when I was young there was no football there – not even a football field. I'm the youngest in my family. My eldest brother studies medicine in Italy. My other brother does the same but in Germany. My sister finished nursing school in Jordan. My father is the school principal and my mum is also a teacher. I'm the only one to have gone into professional sport." 
That he ended up playing UEFA Champions League football for Maccabi Haifa FC aged just 17 was the result, he says, of a serendipitous moment seven years earlier – namely, a random phone call from a family friend. "I tried gymnastics, tennis, karate, but only in the fifth grade did I start playing football. I had some luck because I was in the car with my dad one day when a friend of his saw a newspaper ad about a football school and phoned him about it. I interrupted the call and told him I wanted to go. Just a year later I moved to Maccabi Haifa."f

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