It has become a spring ritual. Every June when the weather gets warm and the flowers begin to bloom you know its time for the UN’s Favorite sport Jew Hunting. This week in Geneva the Human Rights council will mark its fifth straight year of leading the world in this annual rite of late spring. Well sort of. You may remember that last year UN Secretary General Koffi Anon (not to be confused with the Israeli Coffee shop in the Golan Heights) disbanded the UN rights Commission and formed the Human Rights Council. Basically the same group , with the same objectives but a different name.
And what are the objectives of this UN Sponsored body? Simple to de-legitimized the Jewish State any way possible. Nice and straight forward–none of that diplomatic mumbo-jumbo.
This year the UN Rights Council is even looking to save the world money. It is pulling its human rights observers out of nations like Cuba and North Korea and reassigning them to Israel. On what basis will some of them keep their jobs and get reassigned? I don’t know for sure but based on previous Human Rights Council reports about Israel, probably those who are best at creative writing. Benny Avni of the NY Sun has the full scoop.
The Geneva-based U.N. Human Rights Council will open its fifth session this week, marking the first anniversary of its inception. Now is a good opportunity to examine the underlined anti-Israel bias that is most blatant in Geneva but also informs other U.N. institutions.
A crown jewel of last year’s U.N. reform, the inception of the council was hailed by the then secretary-general, Kofi Annan, and the former General Assembly president, Jan Eliasson of Sweden, as an achievement that all but erased the shame of its predecessor, the Human Rights Commission. The council, in fact, has turned out worse than the commission.
Current members are now proposing to eliminate positions of independent human rights observers, known as rapporteurs, in countries such as Belarus, Cuba, Burma, and North Korea. Last week, council member Bangladesh detained a visiting human trafficking rapporteur, Sigma Huda, to prevent her appearance in Geneva. After next week, a proposed new “code of conduct” for rapporteurs will try to assure that “intruders” like Ms. Huda behave from now on.
But not to worry — some rapporteurs will actually be strengthened. The council plans to give them permanent positions in Israel.
Permanency will also be afforded to ritualistic condemnation of Israel: In its first year, the council passed nine resolutions condemning Israel exclusively. The only other country the council felt was deserving of attention was Sudan, addressed in three resolutions, but no guilt was assigned to any party there.
My Geneva guru, Hillel Neuer, the executive director of U.N. Watch, last week wrote Secretary-General Ban to alert him to the council’s renewal of Israel’s eternal condemnation resolution even after Turtle Bay promised last year a “clean slate” regarding singling out any country.
To his credit, Mr. Ban is aware of the problem. “All victims of abuses deserve the attention of this council,” Mr. Ban’s deputy communication director, Stephane Dujarric, told me yesterday. “It’s critical for it to promote an objective, impartial, and universal approach to human rights.”
But climbing out of the deep hole that generations of predecessors have dug with regard to Israel will be a hard task for Mr. Ban.
For example, nearly two years after Israel went through the painful exercise of uprooting the last settler and removing the last soldier from Gaza, it is still known in all U.N. documents as part of the “Occupied Palestinian Territories.” Although legally imprecise, “OPT” is mentioned in U.N. documentation probably more often than any other acronym.
Curiously, the word “occupation,” the most derogatory term in international circles since “apartheid,” refers to one country alone. The acronym “OTT,” referring to Tibet, somehow isn’t deemed to have the same ring. Nor are “OKT” (Kurdistan), “OWST” (Western Sahara), or numerous other places where peoples and tribes claiming national rights are — rightly or wrongly — denied them.
Meanwhile, what do we know of rights violations in, say, Chechnya, where anyone with an agenda differing from Moscow’s who tries to get near Grozny curiously disappears? It also seems to be impossibly inconvenient to document abuses in Damascus, Pyongyang, and whatever the current tyrants of Burma now consider their capital, let alone to look at conditions in the peripheries there.
Israel and the territories seized when its Arab neighbors waged wars of annihilation against it, conversely, are the easiest places in which to document perceived and real abuses. The Human Rights Council’s numerous rapporteurs and special envoys there hobnob with a swarm of international, Israeli, and Palestinian Arab NGOs. The international, Israeli, and Arab press is diligently documenting any shred of abuse, as are Israeli legislators, its courts and, as a result, its army.
As in the old Yiddish joke, after losing a coin somewhere in a remote corner of the village at the dark of night, human right-ers keep looking for it under the street lamp in the public square, because that is where the light is.
The entire human rights agenda has been hijacked by abusers whose numbers at the current council gives them relatively more power than in the old, much criticized commission. For them, Israel is the most convenient and politically expedient target. But they are not alone.
Marking the 40th anniversary of the Six-Day War, Mr. Ban’s underlings singled out, in his name, the plight of the Palestinian Arabs. Later, Mr. Ban criticized the latest threats by President Ahmadinejad of Iran to eliminate Israel, which violate the U.N. Charter.
But the former is more telling than the latter. While some in Israel and at Turtle Bay periodically claim improvement, institutional sensibilities across the U.N. system remain viscerally anti-Israel.