There’s only one villain at the United Nations

Barbara Amiel on the United Nations’ far-from-balanced inquiries

Hadi Mizban/Reuters

Hadi Mizban/Reuters

You’ve gotta love Anne Bayefsky. Don’t know her? Well she’s a Canadian unlikely to ever get an Order of Canada. Those go to chaps like William Schabas, OC, a fellow Canadian. Both Anne and William speak about human rights, Israel and the United Nations. The reason Anne hasn’t got an OC might be for her plain speaking: “Why couldn’t the UN . . . sponsor a conference on combating global anti-Semitism?” she asked this week in a jammed meeting room in the United Nations. “Because,” she told the audience, “the United Nations itself is the leading global purveyor of anti-Semitism.” As for William, he’s a hired hand of the UN’s legal pogrom demonizing Israel. You can take a boy like William and make him a human rights industry pro, but you can’t take the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) out of the boy.

Forty years ago William, a far left member of the New Left SDS, physically prevented the distinguished University of Pennsylvania professor Edward Banfield, an expert on urban poverty, from speaking at the University of Toronto. Many of us did things 40 years ago of which we are now heartily ashamed but I’m going to hazard a guess—and it’s only a guess—that in his heart William is not ashamed of his attempt to curtail free speech. He doesn’t sound like a person who knows the meaning of shame.

In spite of the many comments Schabas has made—at meetings such as the Russell tribunal on Palestine in 2012—stating his deep animus to Israel and Israel’s record (in his view) of crimes against humanity, he won’t recuse himself from heading the new impartial UN “inquiry” on Gaza. Schabas joked that while Archbishop Desmond Tutu wants Tony Blair in the dock of the International Criminal Court, speaking for himself “ . . . my favourite would be Netanyahu . . .” Favourite? Not Bashar al-Assad, you understand, not Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe, not Omar al-Bashir of Sudan. Schabas thinks we’ve been a bit tough on Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the unlamented former president of Iran, who spoke of Israel as “the stinking corpse of the Zionist regime.” Schabas dismisses him as “a provocative politician.” William’s not sure whether the terrorist group Hamas, who started the Gaza conflict by lobbying thousands of rockets at Israel, will be considered in his inquiry.

For years I’ve watched Anne Bayefsky, a human rights lawyer with a great deal of experience with the UN Human Rights Commission as a member of the Canadian delegation and of the International Law Association Committee on International Human Rights Law. Anne has been a small but not still voice of one, monitoring UN Middle East policy since the mid-1980s. Just as Schabas tried to block Banfield from speaking, the UN has tried to block Bayefsky from its hallowed halls—birds of a feather you might say. The meeting this week at which she spoke was courageously convened by the tiny nation of Palau and the Eng Aja Eze Foundation—a small foundation maintained by an Arabic-speaking Christian Nigerian.

Among the items listed in Anne’s j’accuse:

  • 70 per cent of all 2013 General Assembly resolutions criticizing specific countries of human rights abuses were about Israel.
  • 50 per cent of emergency special sessions of the General Assembly in the past six decades were convened to denounce Israel: no emergency session has been called on any other state in more than 30 years.
  • 35 per cent of all resolutions and decisions ever adopted by the UN’s Human Rights Council that are critical of the human rights records of a specific state condemn one state—Israel.

The UN’s Durban II conference in 2009 invited president Ahmadinejad, who described “global Zionism” and “its ugly face,” manipulating the world through political and economic power. But list all this and mainstream media will still forgo any rational or “balanced” (there’s a word I hate: “balanced,” meaning neutrality between good and evil) coverage of Israel. If you log into MEMRI (the Middle East Media Research Institute), which I highly recommend, you can see a remarkable video of a Hamas terrorist leader, Ismail Haniyeh, explaining how the Hamas “narrative is the river from which global media drank information.” He didn’t need to add “and got dead drunk.”

Every now and then a chink of light appears: to whit the Aug. 13, 2014, report to the General Assembly of an independent inquiry on Syria, which for once was not loaded up with Arab or African bloc members. That report contains shattering accounts of torture and crimes against humanity involving millions of civilians. Crucifixions, amputations, rape, wives afraid to claim their husband’s and children’s bodies from the Assad regime’s hospitals and prisons as well as barrel bombs dropped on housewives at market: the report concludes Syria today is the “world’s worst humanitarian catastrophe.”

A very few lucky Syrians get to hospitals in Israel. Most are unlucky victims of the spreading cruelties of the Arab world’s civil wars and competition for who can do the crudest beheadings. A decent beheading, after all, takes skill—unlike the blunt knife jobs of ISIS, which start by gently slitting the throat and then repeatedly hacking away while the victim gurgles half alive as the blood drains out and children and civilians are forced to watch. UN assistant secretary-general Kyung-Wha Kang appealed to the Security Council to end the failure of every party to stop this spreading carnage. Kang is South Korean: unlike the majority of General Assembly delegates she does not sit on her hands while Christians are exterminated and Muslim non-combatants are butchered across the Middle East while applauding condemnation of Israel.

And what’s new, pussycat, in the Palestinian National Authority these days? President Mahmoud Abbas congratulated President Assad on his re-election and, meanwhile, South Africa is boycotting penis clamps that prevent the spread of AIDS: they’re made in Israel.


There’s only one villain at the United Nations

  1. There is a very good reason that human rights groups and UN member countries criticize Israel. The reason is that any other nation that repeatedly breaks international law, and repeatedly ignores UN Security Council resolutions is sanctioned and otherwise penalized by the international community.

    However Israel is given impunity by the United States. No matter how outrageous Israel’s actions are they are NEVER held to account and never sanctioned.

    Clearly this has to change!

    • Everett Coldwell. My how tedious you are. Do you know what the legal borders of Israel in-fact are? I doubt it.

      Can you point to the various Security Council Resolutions that Israel has repeatedly ignored. Do you mean the various after-the-fact condemnations of defensive acts on the part of Israel? What is Israel supposed to do in those events exactly?

      Can you point to international law that Israel has supposedly broken?

      I find it stunning that posters like you can read an article such as this one by Barbara Amiel and then post a cannard such as yours.

      I have asked specific questions that I know you will not be able to answer. You may post some drivel from Wikipedia and claim that to be authoritative. But the reality is that Israel defends itself against Arab berzerkers and anti-Semite poltroons similar to you and that is the only crime of any sort they are guilty of. Of course mistakes are made and usually Israel finds the perpetrators, has a trial in a legitimate and free court and deals with them based on their own properly constituted laws. No Arab state ever does the same. So you need to educate yourself beyond the mere and casual anti-Semitism that you have to find out the actual facts about Israel. Perhaps then you can get your mind around the concept of right and wrong, good and evil, and figure out who causes most of the issues around Israel. Non-aggressive arabs and Arab States might resolve this issue in short order; until then Israel has to be continually vigilant.

  2. Climate Change is one kind of Disaster where we need “20th Century French Revolution In Science” for forecasting/solutions. It is just like a world war because old base of Newton/Leibniz could not predict such disaster and present Scientists think their known work have no meaning and accordingly its solutions can not be carried out.

  3. Climate Change just like a World war where old technology(out dated) technology of Newton/Leibniz should disappear on which our present Science is based in any field. For Forecasting/Solution one should know”20th Century French Revolution In Science of which I am only member remained.

  4. It no longer surprises me that Canadians are so blind to our own racism that we don’t stop to think things through such as when we blame Israel for the simple act of defending itself from the genocidal intentions of its neighbors. A sure sign of this sickening disease called politically correctness is the new love affair our media elite (with the exception of a small minority left with their integrity intact) has with Hamas and its ilk. How pathetic of these fake intellectuals to think they can hide their anti-Israel sentiments behind their fawning praise of sociopathic Palestinian terrorists. Thank God for real journalists like this one.

  5. Here we go again, yet another brainwashed Zionist sympathizer, who clearly has zero clue as to what has really been happening to the citizens of occupied Palestine for almost 7 decades. Contrary to what the Zionist controlled mainstream media will have you believe, resistance (Hamas) to the Zionist occupier’s brutality and outright racism against Arabs is NOT terrorism. Anti-zionism is NOT anti-semitism – learn the difference people! The corporate media isn’t just distorting the facts on the Gaza assault, they are flat out covering them up.

    80% of those killed in operation “Protective Edge” were civilian Palestinians, who have been treated like third class citizens ever since the U.K. gave Israel their homeland in 1947. Israel’s official justification for this wholesale slaughter: the murder of three Israeli teenagers which Israel blames on Hamas. Israel has not produced one single piece of evidence implicating Hamas or even a Palestinian in the murders, and evidence indicates that the murderers were Israeli. The Jerusalem Post released the audio of the kidnapped teen’s distress call to police, and in that call the kidnappers can be heard telling the boys to put their heads down in HEBREW. According to the Jerusalem Post prior to being leaked to the public this audio was being held under a gag order by the Israeli government.

    The Israelis accuse the Palestinians of using human shields, but how do you explain the bombing of UNRWA schools? Or the shelling of children on a Gaza beach? These are just the most publicized cases, but the shear numbers of civilian casualties, and the mass targeting of civilian infrastructure points to the intentional application of the Dahiya doctrine (look it up).

    Poor poor Israel, having to “defend” themselves against 5 yr old rock throwers (yes, Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) arrest, and imprison, children as young as 5 for minor misdemeanors). So Hamas throws a few home-made rockets in protest, the majority of which are knocked out by Israel’s billion dollar (U.S. funded) high tech “Iron Dome” system. There are thousands of U.S. and Canadian tax payers who aren’t too happy about giving 8 billion dollars a year of “aid” to Israel, particularly when it goes toward the slaughter of thousands of innocent children. Former IDF soldiers have come forward (breakingthesilence.org) with hair raising stories of the kind of harassment and brutality they were required to do in the name of Israel, but one of the more enlightening confessions came from and IDF sergeant, who said that “the biggest weapon has against Palestine is the popular opinion of the U.S.” Dozens of U.S. politicians have Isreali dual citizenship. Your opinion of Isreal is what mainstream media tells you it is.

    So why is Israel REALLY attacking Gaza? It’s not about self defense and it’s obviously not about avenging those three teenagers. Those are just cover stories for the naive. What this is really about is NATURAL GAS.

    It turns out that Gaza has quite a bit of natural gas on its coastline, one of the largest sources in the region. British Gas, which holds a joint exploration agreement for the area estimates that the fields hold at least 1 trillion cubic feet of gas. That gas belongs to the Palestinian people and they should be the ones to benefit from it. Israel disagrees.

    (An interesting side story on this issue: At one point Russia was bidding for a chance to develop Gaza’s gas fields.)

    After the death of Yasser Arafat, under questionable circumstances, Israel has controlled those fields, and British Gas has negotiated with Tel Aviv.

    With power divided between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, the Palestinians have been too weak to put up any meaningful resistance and Israel would like to keep it that way. The Unity Government between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority threatens Israel’s control of those fields, and as such it has to be destroyed.

    These are the REAL motives of ALL wars: resources, territory and power. They’ll always come up with an excuse, and it’s easy to fall for them if you don’t do your research. There’s also a really easy way to avoid getting duped: ALWAYS stand against wars of aggression. Period. Make it a matter of principle, and the facts and morality will always end up being on your side.

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