Thursday, January 31, 2013

Amnesty upset Israel not participating in biased UNHRC UPR exercise

Amnesty upset Israel not participating in biased UNHRC UPR exercise

From Amnesty:
If the Israeli government is not careful, it will ruin an important global human rights process for everybody.

The Universal Periodic Review, a process to examine states’ human rights records, has until now been truly universal: all United Nation member states were reviewed by the end of 2011 and the second cycle of reviews has already started.

But now the government of Israel is not engaging with the process. Every indication is that the Israel will not be present this afternoon when it is scheduled to be examined under the Universal Periodic Review. As the only recalcitrant state among 193, Israel’s deliberate absence would sabotage the principle of universality. Consequently the Universal Periodic Review stands to lose the compelling legitimacy it derives from being applied even-handedly to all states. Why should states that would prefer to escape scrutiny of their human rights record, or are severely resource constrained, submit to this process if Israel’s non-compliance demonstrates that it is no longer universal?
UN Watch has the truth:
In reality, the UPR is — for the most part — a mutual praise society.
Though the New York Times today praised the UPR’s “universal and collaborative characteristics,” saying it provided “a platform to scrutinize and discuss the situation of human rights in even the most closed and repressive regimes,” it apparently forgot that earlier it had reported on how Qaddafi’s Libyan regime came out of its review with top marks:
Until Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s violent suppression of unrest in recent weeks, the United Nations Human Rights Council was kind in its judgment of Libya. In January, it produced a draft report on the country that reads like an international roll call of fulsome praise, when not delicately suggesting improvements. Evidently, within the 47-nation council, some pots are loath to call kettles black, at least until events force their hand.
Former Amnesty USA director Suzanne Nossel called the reportabhorrent.”
It’s not for nothing that despots walk into this court with confidence and ease. See our report on yesterday’s lavish UPR party put on by the United Arab Emirates.
What is more, those accusing Israel of desecrating the temple are the same who systematically turn a blind eye to the council’s persistent and pathological lynching of Israel: the special agenda item and special day against Israel at every session; the lopsided amount of resolutions against Israel, often amounting to more than the total adopted on the rest of the world combined; Israel’s exclusion from any of the council’s regional groups; and the completely biased mandate of the council’s permanent investigator on Palestine, Richard Falk, who endorses Hamas and the 9/11 conspiracy theory.
For a council that does such things on an ongoing basis to then accuse Israel of undermining principle is the height of audacity and hypocrisy; the complainants come with unclean hands — very unclean hands.
See also UN Watch's links.

A glance comparing the previous UPR reports on Israel and Syria show that the UPR is truly a joke.

While at first glance the number of recommendations given were about the same, the phrasing for Israel was consistently combative while Syria was praised. For example, here are typical recommendations for Israel in 2008:
- 35. Acknowledge/recognize, accept and fully implement the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on the wall (Egypt, Maldives, Jordan, Palestine, Pakistan) that Israel immediately cease work on the construction of the wall being built in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and begin dismantling it (Maldives); end construction of, and dismantle the already built, illegal separation wall (Cuba); dismantle the wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and refrain from expansion of settlements (Brazil); dismantle the separation wall (South Africa).

- 36. Take urgent and immediate steps to end its occupation of all Palestinian and Arab territories occupied since 1967; implement all Human Rights Council, General Assembly and Security Council resolutions on the Occupied Palestinian Territories and other Arab territories; introduce measures to respect the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and their right to return; accept its obligations under international human rights and humanitarian law; cease action that would alter the demographic situation of Palestine; and grant access to safe drinking water to Syrian citizens living in the occupied Syrian Golan (South Africa);

But Syria's report includes numerous requests for it to continue to implement its wonderful existing system of human rights:
A - 100.11. Continue to implement measures to enhance national capacities for the promotion and protection of human rights (Belarus);

A - 100.12. Continue to confront attempts of foreign intervention into its domestic affairs and to exercise fully its people’s right to self-determination and the country’s sovereignty (Cuba);

A - 100.13. Continue the process of taking measures at the national level as well as the national dialogue under the guidance of its legitimate authorities as a means of a political solution to the situation in the country (Cuba);

A - 100.49. Continue the efforts to strengthen food security for all its people, particularly in rural areas (Bolivia);

A - 100.50. Continue to strengthen the achievements of health indicators, particularly related to child and maternal health, through the improvement of public health services (Bolivia);

A - 100.51. Continue policies and programs to improve the quality of basic social services provided to citizens, such as health care and education (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea);

A - 100.52. Continue to provide basic healthcare service for people living in rural areas and increase its focus on vulnerable groups such as women, children and minorities (Myanmar);

A - 100.53. Continue to strengthen free education for all its people, particularly in rural areas, through “mobile schools” (Bolivia);

A - 100.54. Continue improving the quality of public education with the aim of maintaining the
excellent level of education by which the different stages of education have been characterized

A - 100.55. Continue with its policy and its good practice to provide assistance and protect the rights of the many Palestinian refugees in the country (Ecuador);
Only one recommendation for Israel used the word "continue" and even that one was written in a combative tone; Syria was happily told to keep going with how wonderfully it was doing on 20 topics. Essentially no praise was given to Israel in its report for its health care or court system or really any achievement in any sphere, while seemingly every dictatorship's report was filled with praise as to how well they are implementing their human rights programs (and the regimes often claimed that they were implementing recommendations that they were clearly ignoring.)

While some countries, notably Canada, tried to hold brutal regimes accountable in the reports, for the most part like-minded abusers of human rights praised each other and blunted any possible usefulness that the UPR was meant to have.

The best that can be said is that the UPR is somewhat less of a joke than everything else the UNHRC does, but it is still a joke.  The UPR is essentially a continuation of the UNHRC's one-sided obsession with Israel with a superficial sheen of "universality,"  and Amnesty cannot even be bothered to point that out.

A Native and a Zionist

A Native and a Zionist

By Ryan Bellerose

I am a Métis from Northern Alberta. My father, Mervin Bellerose, co-authored the Métis Settlements Act of 1989, which was passed by the Alberta legislature in 1990 and cemented our land rights. I founded Canadians For Accountability, a native rights advocacy group, and I am an organizer and participant in the Idle No More movement in Calgary. And I am a Zionist. 

Let me tell you why.

I grew up on a Métis colony in what many would say are rough conditions: we had no electricity, running water or telephone.  When it rained, the dirt roads that linked us to the highways flooded and we were stranded. I lived in a bunkhouse with my two stepbrothers, while my father and stepmother lived in a small cabin nearby.  We raised a garden, hunted and fished, picked berries and made the odd trip to town to buy supplies.  My father worked construction and lived in camps for long stretches and I would often stay at relatives’ to escape my stepmother’s abuse.  Still, I considered my childhood normal.  

My interest in Israel started at a young age.  My father gave me a set of Encyclopedia Britannica for my 5th birthday and, from there, a passion for history was born.  I would sit and read whenever the weather was bad.  In fact, it was a family joke that taking away my books for a few hours was a better way to discipline me than a spanking.  One entry that caught my eye was that of Israel’s birth in 1948. It struck me as the ultimate David and Goliath story: Israel, a tiny country that had fought for independence from the British Empire, was forced from its first moments to defend its existence against the combined armies of the Arab world.  Israel survived against all odds, and did so in a truly epic story of will and heroism.  This story inspired me.

Growing up, I was a very small child. (I am called "Tiny Ryney" to this day, though I play defensive tackle for the Calgary Wolfpack).  I was called a "half-breed" and other slurs by white kids while the children in my colony made fun of my paler skin.  I didn’t belong anywhere.  And I had to be resourceful to protect myself, since I was weaker than the others. Being the victim of bullying shaped who I am and my sense of right and wrong.  It is one reason that I support Israel, a country that has faced bullying and manipulation since its birth.  Israel too has had to be resourceful to defend itself against enemies that dwarf it.  And, like me, it overcame. 

Noticing my curiosity about Israel, my father bought me as a birthday gift a book about the 1976 Raid on Entebbe, a brilliant rescue by Israeli commandos of hostages taken by Palestinian terrorists to Uganda.  Again, this impressed me.  Israel was willing to do the impossible to rescue its people, regardless of the political fallout.  This pushed me to read more about the Arab-Israeli conflict.  In so doing, I learned about the ’72 Munich Olympic Games, where Palestinian terrorists massacred 11 Israeli athletes during an event meant to be a celebration of brotherhood and peace. I wondered why more people weren’t as upset as I was.

It was during this time, while visiting relatives working oil rigs, that I learned while watching a hotel TV of the horrific 1972 Lod Airport massacre where terrorists shot dead 26 civilians waiting for their flights, including 17 Christian pilgrims. I also remember the 1985 attack by Yasser Arafat’s forces on the Achille Lauro cruise ship, where an old disabled man was thrown overboard in his wheelchair for the crime of being a Jew.  The more I saw, the more I needed to understand why such things were happening.  The more I learned, the more I grew to appreciate Israel’s moral integrity in the face of brutal hatred.  And I came to believe that the Jewish people and Israel should serve as an example to indigenous people everywhere.  It is with the Jews – and their stubborn survival after being decimated and dispersed by powerful empires -- that we have the most in common.

My people, the Métis, came to Alberta after the American Revolution, at the government’s request, to prevent the settling of the Americans in western Canada.  We settled the land and followed the white man’s rules.  But we were eventually evicted, our homes given to white pioneers.  No one wanted us. We were forced to live in hiding, on road allowances, in the bush. We had no rights, and we were killed out of hand, as "nuisances". Exile fractured our nation. Our people wandered with no hope and no home. Then, in the mid 1900's, our leaders managed to secure land for us, not the land we had wanted but land that would nonetheless allow us to build a better future. We took it, built our settlements and formed a government to improve the lives of our people. We still have many problems to solve, of course, but we also have more educated people than ever and are slowly becoming self-sufficient, as our leaders envisioned.  In this, the Jewish people and the Métis have walked the same road. 

The Jews also suffered genocide and were expelled from their homeland.  They were also rejected by everyone and forced to wander.  Like us, they rebelled against imperial injustice when necessary and, despite their grievances, strived for peace whenever possible.  Like us they were given a tiny sliver of their land back after centuries of suffering and persecution, land that nobody else had wanted to call home until then.  Like us, they took that land despite their misgivings and forged a nation from a fractured and wounded people.  And like us, they consistently show a willingness to compromise for the good of their people.  

I hope the Metis keep walking the same road as the Jewish people.  Through their efforts, the Jews were able to preserve their identity despite terrible persecution and to revive their culture and language once back in their homeland.  They never lost their sense of who they were, but neither did they lose sight of the importance of looking forward.  Given their history, it would have been natural for them to become insular and reactionary.  But instead, they work hard to be productive and are friendly even to countries that have caused them tremendous suffering.  I want us to similarly make education and the preservation of our ancient culture a priority.  I want us to continue to strive for peace and productivity. 

Many claim that we Natives have more in common with the Palestinians, that their struggle is our struggle.  Beyond superficial similarities, nothing could be farther from the truth.  Beyond the facile co-opting of our cause, the comparison with the Palestinians is absolutely untenable.  It trivializes our suffering.

Co-opting today’s native struggle to the Palestinian propaganda war is a fallacy. Though the Palestinians have undeniable ties to the land, first hand accounts by Mark Twain and countless other travelers to the Holy Land through the ages suggest that a large percentage of the Palestinian people immigrated to Palestine in recent decades.  And for 65 years, the Palestinians have convinced the world that they are worse off than many other stateless nations, despite all evidence to the contrary.  The Palestinians claim to have been colonized but it was their own leaders who refused to negotiate and who lost the land that they want by waging a needless war on Israel.  They claim to have faced genocide but they suffered no such thing: their population has exploded from a few hundred thousand in 1948 to over 4 million today.  They claim deprivation but their elites live in luxury while their people live in ramshackle poverty.  

What’s more, the Palestinian leaders have never been interested in a peaceful solution for their people. They were given several opportunities to have their own state – for the first time in history -- and refused each time, choosing war over peace because the offers were never deemed sufficient. They have persistently used terrorism to bring attention to their cause and their leaders have celebrated the killing of civilians by naming parks and schools after murderers.  And any Palestinian that questions the maximalist rhetoric or who suggests real compromise is immediately ostracized, branded a traitor, or killed.

The Palestinians are not like us.  Their fight is not our fight.  We natives believe in bringing about change peacefully, and we refuse to be affiliated with anyone who engages in violence targeting civilians.  I cannot remain silent and allow the Palestinians to gain credibility at our expense by claiming commonality with us. I cannot stand by while they trivialize our plight by tying it to theirs, which is largely self-inflicted.  Our population of over 65 million was violently reduced to a mere 10 million, a slaughter unprecedented in human history.  To compare that in whatever way to the Palestinians’ story is deeply offensive to me. The Palestinians did lose the land they claim is theirs, but they were repeatedly given the opportunity to build their state on it and to partner with the Jews -- and they persistently refused peace overtures and chose war.   We were never given that chance.  We never made that choice.

Arabs freak over Danny Ayalon Jerusalem video (UPDATE)

Arabs freak over Danny Ayalon Jerusalem video (UPDATE)

Arab media is claiming that this latest video from Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon shows the destruction of the Dome of the Rock.

At one point in the video he opens a book where a magical spark trailing bubbles swirls around the Dome and goes back in time, as the Dome vanishes and is replaced by the earlier Temple.

Scrubbing Bubbles!

Other Arab media are saying this is just another set of Jewish myths that they have a historic connection  to Jerusalem, also calling the video "a provocation" and "incitement" and "distorted."

The video is very cute, and it plays more to emotions than to history. Which is why the Arabs hate it so much - they try to corner the market on their emotional attachment to place, especially other people's holy places.

UPDATEYNet shows a portion of an earlier version that does make it look like the Dome is collapsing:

I can see how Muslims might be upset at that!

But as YNet reported, the Foreign Ministry nixed that version because it could cause offense. YNet chose to release the clip that was edited out by the FM.

Whether that is news is arguable, but YNet must have known that pro-actively releasing a video like that is potentially inflammatory. Not necessarily a wise editorial decision.

Brooklyn College Political Science Department Denies Equal Free Speech and Academic Freedom to Pro-Israel Students and Faculty

Brooklyn College Political Science Department Denies Equal Free Speech and Academic Freedom to Pro-Israel Students and Faculty

by Alan M. Dershowitz

The international campaign to delegitimize Israel by subjecting the Jewish state—and the Jewish State alone—to boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) has now come to the most unlikely of places: Brooklyn College. The political science department of that college has voted to co-sponsor a campaign event at which only pro-BDS speakers will advocate a policy that is so extreme that even the Palestinian Authority rejects it.

The poster for the BDS event specifically says that the event is being "endorsed by…the political science department at BC." The BDS campaign accuses Israel of "Apartheid" and advocates the blacklisting of Jewish Israeli academics, which is probably illegal and certainly immoral. The two speakers at the event deny Israel's right to exist, compare Israel to the Nazis and praise terrorist groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah.

The president of Brooklyn College claims that this co-sponsorship does not constitute an endorsement by the college and that this is an issue of freedom of speech and academic freedom. But when a department of a university officially co-sponsors and endorses an event advocating BDS against Israel, and refuses to co-sponsor and endorse an event opposing such BDS, that does constitute an official endorsement. Freedom of speech, and academic freedom require equal access to both sides of a controversy, not official sponsorship and endorsement of one side over the other. The heavy thumb of an academic department should not be placed on the scale, if the marketplace of ideas is to remain equally accessible to all sides of a controversy.

I have no problem with a BDS campaign being conducted by radical students at Brooklyn College or anywhere else. Students have a right to promote immoral causes on college campuses. Nor do I have a problem with such an event being sponsored by the usual hard left, anti-Israel and anti-American groups, such as some of those that are co-sponsoring this event. My sole objection is to the official sponsorship and endorsement of BDS by an official department of a public (or for that matter private) college.

I was once a student at Brooklyn College, majoring in political science. Back in the day, departments did not take official positions on controversial political issues. They certainly didn't sponsor or endorse the kind of hate speech that can be expected at this event, if the history of the speakers is any guide. The president of the university says this is a matter of academic freedom. But who's academic freedom? Do "departments"—as distinguished from individual faculty members—really have the right of academic freedom? Does the political science department at Brooklyn College represent only its hard left faculty? What about the academic freedom of faculty members who do not support the official position of the department? One Brooklyn College faculty member has correctly observed that:

[B]oycotting academics is the opposite of free speech. It symbolizes the silencing on people based on their race and religion.

Does the political science department not also represent the students who major in or take courses in that subject? I know that as a student I would not want to be associated with a department that officially supported boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel. My academic freedom would be compromised by such an association. Also, I would worry that a department that was so anti-Israel would grade me down or refuse me recommendations if I were perceived to be pro-Israel, or even neutral. I would not feel comfortable expressing my academic freedom in such a department. I'm sure there are many students at Brooklyn College who feel the same. What can they do to express their academic freedom? Should they fight fire with fire by advocating boycott, divestment and sanctions against the political science department or against Brooklyn College? Would that too be an exercise of academic freedom?

If I were a Brooklyn College student today and an opponent of BDS against Israel, I would not major in political science. I would worry that my chances of getting into a good law school or graduate program would be put at risk. I would pick a department—or a school—that was less politicized and more academically unbiased.

Academic freedom does not include the power of department or faculty members to proselytize and propagandize captive students whose grades and future depend on faculty evaluations. That's why academic departments should not take political positions that threaten the academic freedom of dissenting students or faculty.

I can understand the department of political science sponsoring a genuine debate over boycott, divestment and sanctions in which all sides were equally represented. That might be an educational experience worthy of departmental sponsorship. But the event in question is pure propaganda and one-sided political advocacy. There is nothing academic about it. Would the political science department of Brooklyn College sponsor and endorse an anti-divestment evening? Would they sponsor and endorse me, a graduate of that department, to present my perspective to their students? Would they sponsor a radical, pro-settlement, Israeli extremist to propagandize their students? Who gave the department the authority to decide, as a department, which side to support in this highly contentious debate? What are the implications of such departmental support? Could the political science department now vote to offer courses advocating BDS against Israel and grading students based on their support for the department's position? Should other departments now be lobbied to support BDS against China, Venezuela, Cuba, Russia, the Palestinian Authority or other perennial violators of human rights?

Based on my knowledge of the Brooklyn College political science department, they would never vote to sponsor and endorse an anti-BDS campaign, or a BDS campaign against left wing, Islamic, anti-Israel or anti-American countries that are genuine violators of human rights. Universities, and some departments in particular, are quickly becoming more political than academic. This trend threatens the academic freedom of dissenting students and faculty. It also threatens the academic quality of such institutions.

The Brooklyn College political science department should get out of the business of sponsoring and endorsing one-sided political propaganda and should stop trying to exercise undue influence over the free marketplace of ideas. That is the real violation of academic freedom and freedom of speech.

Shame on the Brooklyn College political science department for falsely invoking academic freedom and freedom of speech to deny equal freedoms to those who disagree with its extremist politics.

BDS Controversy Raging in Brooklyn

BDS Controversy Raging in Brooklyn

Bethany Mandel

There’s another BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) controversy brewing in Brooklyn, this time at the publicly-funded Brooklyn College. Brooklyn College’s political science department has decided to co-sponsor an anti-Israel BDS conference, despite growing outrage at the school and department’s tendency to sponsor events that only portray one side of the Mideast debate. Yesterday Jeffrey Wiesenfeld, a trustee at the City University of New York (the larger network that Brooklyn College is a member of) wrote a scathing op-ed about the conference in Algemeiner in which he admonished the school for its decision to go ahead with the program:

I call upon taxpayers to draw a line here and make it known: taxpayer dollars should not fund illegitimate, racist and anti-Semitic activities by any academic department. Those of us who care about Israel would do no less if others were similarly treated. Indeed, the Jewish community in particular historically has done no less. Additionally, academic administrators should be reminded that Jewish students are no less entitled – under applicable federal law – than other students to an educational environment free of intimidation and prejudice.

This afternoon Brooklyn College President Karen Gould released a statement explaining the school’s decision to carry on with the conference, despite the outrage of many members of the Jewish community in Brooklyn as well as the student body. Despite a long history of Jewish enrollment at Brooklyn College in addition to its current large population of Jewish students (30 percent of Brooklyn College’s population self-identified as Jewish in 2011), the school has become known as a hotbed of anti-Israel activity. A friend and former student, Dani Klein, told me,

Ten years ago as a student at Brooklyn College, I was the President of NYSIPAC, the Israel advocacy club on campus at the time. We held events frequently. Sometimes individual professors came to speak, or promoted it, but we never had any department sponsor our events, let alone the political science department. Similar, one-sided, anti-Israel events were held on campus back then too, some comparing Israel to Nazis. These same groups have changed their tactics. Instead of shock and awe, they promote BDS. But their goal is the same — the destruction of Israel. 

In response to the controversy, Brooklyn Assemblyman Dov Hikind has called for President Gould’s resignation, releasing a statement earlier today:

Allowing her Poli-Sci Department Chair to bully her into letting them co-sponsor and support a racist, anti-Semitic lecture series is not the right thing. Or perhaps President Gould wasn’t bullied; maybe she secretly approves. Or perhaps she’s apathetic. I can only speculate to what her motivation or lack of motivation is in allowing this irresponsible endorsement of this loathsome event by her College.

Either way, President Gould should not be steering this ship. It is heading for a barge. She should give someone else the helm, someone who understands how to manage a situation like this and protect Brooklyn College’s entire student body. The chilling effect upon Brooklyn College students will have long-term ramifications. Tacit approval is approval. Karen Gould should resign.”

Tomorrow, at 11 A.M., Assemblyman Hikind will be joined by numerous elected officials and community groups who will condemn Brooklyn College’s official endorsement and sponsorship of the event “BDS Movement Against Israel” which calls for a unilateral boycott against Israel and Israeli businesses.

Despite President Gould’s insistence that the conference will go on as planned, pressure seems be mounting, not dissipating, for its cancellation. If the event goes as scheduled it will surely continue to stoke tension in the community, which appears to be the only thing that BDS events seem to accomplish.

Israel Punished in Survey of Press Freedom for Targeting Hamas

Israel Punished in Survey of Press Freedom for Targeting Hamas

Seth Mandel

In November, New York Times media reporter David Carr wrote about the deaths of three alleged “journalists” in Gaza during Israel’s counteroffensive there. Alana Goodman pointed out here that two of the three were “cameramen” working for a television station owned by Hamas. Both Hamas and the television station itself are designated terrorist organizations. Alana then pointed to stories identifying one of the men as a Hamas military commander and another as an officer in Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

Blogger Elder of Ziyon wrote that the whole episode was “not just an indictment of Carr. This is a systemic problem in the entire profession. The smugness that they are infallible, and the groupthink that they can rely on others’ work without double-checking it, all indicate that there is some significant daylight between how many journalists do their work and what the truth really is.” Carr had defended himself by saying other organizations referred to those killed as journalists. One of the organizations Carr mentioned was Reporters Without Borders, which, having duped Carr into treating terrorists as journalists has just released its rankings of press freedom worldwide–and it has dropped Israel 20 places for killing those terrorists that the organization convinced news outlets to treat as innocent journalists:

Journalists in Israel (112th, -20) enjoy real freedom of expression despite the existence of military censorship but the country fell in the index because of the Israeli military’s targeting of journalists in the Palestinian Territories.

Israel was of course not targeting journalists; Israel was targeting terrorists aided by gullible and biased journalists. But since Hamas started the fighting with rocket attacks, fired at Israeli residential areas, and dressed up terrorists as journalists to attract Israeli fire, surely the Palestinian territories were punished by Reporters Without Borders as well? Nope: the Palestinians’ ranking  jumps ahead seven spots.

On Monday, Michael Rubin noted that human rights organizations often act against their stated cause by doing things that could make war more deadly. The stunt pulled by Reporters Without Borders with collusion from the Times and other outlets quite obviously makes war more dangerous for actual journalists (war is already dangerous for Hamasniks, though the international community is working on a way to fix that too). But the report makes something else clear: those who expose the fact that Israel was targeting terrorists instead of journalists are wasting their breath on groups like Reporters Without Borders. The organization acknowledges that it docked Israel points for going after Hamas:

The 20-place fall of Israel (112nd) is due to the actions of the Israel Defence Forces in the Palestinian Territories – actions that used to be given a separate ranking in the index under the label of “Israel extraterritorial”. During Operation “Pillar of Defence” in November 2012, IDF deliberately targeted journalists and buildings housing media that are affiliated to Hamas or support it. And the arbitrary arrest and detention of Palestinian journalists is still commonplace. Israeli journalists meanwhile enjoy real freedom of expression but military censorship continues to be a structural problem.

The entry on the Palestinian territories does not even mention Hamasniks posing as journalists. Compared to last year, according to Reporters Without Borders, it’s all good news:

An improvement in relations between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas has had a positive impact on freedom of information and the working environment for journalists.

Neither the Palestinian Authority nor Hamas is known for having a “positive impact” on freedom of the press, but Hamas is worse than its rivals. I predict disappointment in Reporters Without Borders’s future if Hamas gains in influence within the PA structure in the West Bank. Meanwhile, the campaign to delegitimize Israel among NGOs continues apace without fairness, accuracy, shame, or, indeed, borders.

An anti-Semitic agenda at the UN

An anti-Semitic agenda at the UN


Israel has taken a stand against suffering through a review by a council that commends Syria and demonizes its southern neighbor.

Just days after the UN put on a show about Holocaust remembrance, it is business as usual in terms of demonizing and encouraging hatred of Jews in the present.  In Geneva, the UN’s top human rights body, the Human Rights Council, is conducting its so-called “Universal Periodic Review” (UPR), and Israel was supposed to arrive before the firing squad on January 29 to listen to Iran itemize the failings of "the Zionist entity."  The greater tragedy of modern anti-Semitism, however, is that the United States and almost every other Western government pressured Israel to participate too – for the sake of the reputation of the UN and the appearance of universality.  These goals were considered to be the greater good.

In the world of international human rights, the standard-bearer is the universal application of human rights principles. “We the peoples of the United Nations,” says the UN Charter, “reaffirm faith…in the equal rights…of nations large and small.”  Hence, the UN Human Rights “Council,” desperate to repair the UN’s human rights credibility after Libya was elected President of the Human Rights “Commission,” created the much-trumpeted UPR.  All 193 UN members undergo the same procedure – states like Syria and the United States, for example.

During the UPR, country representatives turn up in Geneva while diplomats from other states proceed to make comments and recommendations on improving the country's human rights record.  Since the country can “accept” or “reject” those recommendations, it is in its interest to line up friendly participants, a disingenuous role willingly played only by rogue states.  At the end, the President of the Council thanks the country concerned, regardless of the statements made by its representatives, the recommendations it has rejected, or its actual human rights record.

So here’s how the UPR rubber hit the road of crimes against humanity in Syria. On October 7, 2011, the Syrian vice-minister of foreign affairs and his entourage took their places in the Council chamber.  And then the Cubans said: “the Syrian government is working for the human rights of its people.”  The North Koreans said: “we commend Syria on its efforts taken to maintain security and stability.” The Iranians said: “we appreciate the efforts of the government of Syria to promote and protect human rights.”  Ditto Sudan, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Algeria, Lebanon, China, Zimbabwe, Burma/Myanmar, and so on.  

Four days later, on behalf of the three countries charged with compiling recommendations, Mexico reported to the Council:  “Syria received a total of 179 recommendations…It is a pleasure to inform you that 98 recommendations were accepted and 26 shall be considered.” Among the recommendations that "did not enjoy the support" of Syria were “immediately end attacks on peaceful protesters and bring violators to account,” “put an end to secret detentions” and “allow journalists to freely exercise their profession.” At the end of this stage of the UPR, the President of the Council turned to Syria and signed off with “I thank both you and your delegation for your participation in the UPR.”

At the time, there were 2,600 dead Syrian citizens at the hands of their own government. And Assad got the message about the human rights bona fides of the UN.  

The next and final stage of the UPR took place in Geneva on March 15, 2012 – by which time there were 11,000 dead.  On that occasion, the Council formally adopted the so-called “outcome” of the UPR – a report containing no findings and no decision to take action.  It was gaveled through without comment from the President with these words:  “May I now propose that the Council adopts the decision on the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of Syria?”  I see no objection.”

There are now over 60,000 dead in Syria.

And yet, incredibly, the enormous pressure now descending on Israel to play by these rules has been mounted for the sake of the credibility of the UPR.  It is the Jewish state that poses the threat to the UN’s house of cards.

This is what modern anti-Semitism in the world of international affairs is really all about.  Israel’s willingness to expose the lack of universal application of standards, its refusal to play with a stacked deck, its stubborn insistence that it will not go quietly into that good night, is itself an affront – a violation of the rules of a club from which Jews have been excluded throughout history.

The discrimination against Israel by the UN human rights system is not hard to find.  The UN Human Rights Council has a permanent agenda of 10 items, one reserved for condemning Israel and one for considering all other 192 UN members. Almost 40 percent of all Council resolutions condemning specific countries have been directed at Israel alone. There have been more special sessions on Israel than any other country. Israel is the only UN state excluded from full membership in any of the UN’s regional groups, where key negotiations and information-sharing occurs.  

The official UN document entitled “summary of stakeholder submissions,” which is intended to drive Israel’s UPR, includes allegations from NGOs that object to “the Jewish character of the state,” and demand that “five million Palestinians” should “return” to Israel to seal the deal. 

And then there all the fabricated, hate-filled investigations and reports the Council regularly produces after every Israeli effort at self-defense, from the infamous “Goldstone” report – later recanted by its namesake – to the flotilla report claiming Turkish terrorists were humanitarians. 

After another Council investigation on settlements was initiated last year, Israel said enough; it would not cooperate with the Council, which entailed not attending the UPR session today. Its absence at Tuesday’s UPR is the first time that anybody has cared that the hatemongering might take place in the country’s absence. The worry?  Somebody might notice that the UN Human Rights Council is really not about the universal application of human rights after all.

If President Obama and his new administration were really serious about leadership, they could have easily been telling their colleagues on the Council to change the rules, because true equality cannot be built on the inequality of the few.  Because the discrimination and demonization of the Jewish state and the Jewish people is not an isolatable flaw, but subverts the very foundation of human rights and the United Nations.  Because the road to hell is paved with the cries of the insignificant, the marginal and the irrelevant.

But instead, through their UN Ambassador in Geneva, Eileen Donahoe, American diplomats publicly beseeched Israel last week to make nice.  

With the Israeli election still sorting out decision-makers, and Western countries apoplectic about the emperor’s imminent disrobing, postponement has now occurred in the short term.  In the long term, however, there is no middle ground. 

Israel will no doubt continue to be bullied by the US administration, but there is an answer.  Israel, too, is all for universality.  So those who are similarly serious about the basics can amend two procedural, unambiguously discriminatory rules.  The Human Rights Council can change its agenda so that there is one item for all 193 UN member states, and the Western regional group can fully admit Israel to its Council meetings in Geneva.  Alternatively, the “Human Rights” Council can carry on, and every member stand challenged to justify its support of this agent of modern anti-Semitism.

Video of Intelligence Squared debate in London

Video of Intelligence Squared debate in London

Sunday Times blood libel.jpg
Since I came home from London, subsequent events have borne out my dim assessment of England, and done so at break-neck pace. As one of Britain's great righteous gentiles Douglas Murray wrote in an essay published yesterday by the Gatestone Institute, England is no longer even trying to hide its anti-Semitism. At this point, to live well in the kingdom, Jews are required to accept or at least express minimal objection to the dominant narrative that Israel is the current Nazi Germany. 

Back in 2005, I felt it was a mistake for Israel to push for the UN to establish an international Holocaust remembrance day. What did we need it for?

The UN emerged at the 2001 Durban conference as the epicenter of global anti-Semitism. Why should we give it an out for its hostility towards live Jews by letting it pretend it isn't a anti-Semitic institution because it mourns dead Jews?

At any rate, it took no time at all for the UN and its member states to use the new International Holocaust Remembrance Day as a means of defaming Israel and so gunning for a new Holocaust of Jewry. 

In England in the space of a week, a British parliament member from the Liberal-Democrat Pary named David Ward said that Israel is perpetrating a Holocaust on the Palestinians Arabs, and the Sunday Times published the above anti-Semitic, Nazi-styled cartoon. The cartoon came out on the ill-conceived International Holocaust Memorial Day. 

So I am sad to say, I am right. 

Britain is no place for Jews. 

Anyway, here are my opening remarks at the debate.

And here's the link to the entire debate. 

What their view on Hezbollah tells us about Europe's counter-terrorism strategy

What their view on Hezbollah tells us about Europe's counter-terrorism strategy

The Hezbullah terrorists' customary form of salute will be
familiar to some Europeans, even if its lesson has been forgotten.

Watching the self-damaging way politicians and law enforcement officials view terrorism is, for the most part, an immensely frustrating thing.

Hezbollah, as we have noted here numerous times, is banned as a terrorist organization in major countries of the world but not in Europe. See for instance "26-Jan-13: Assessing the threat of Hezbullah's terrorism in North America, and doing something about it", "13-Jan-13: A French contribution to stopping the terrorists", 26-May-11: "Lebanon's terrorist forces have more missiles than most sovereign states"

Now today we the EU's principal counter-terrorism official telling us that Hezbollah might not be banned even if it is proven - as appears to be the case, that it stands behind the terrorist bombing of a busload of Israeli tourists in Bulgaria last summer.

EU official: Hezbollah unlikely to get on terrorism blacklist

EUobserver | 28.01.13...Gilles de Kerchove told EUobserver that Bulgaria's investigation into the incident is likely to be concluded next month... "First, we need to reach conclusions with strong evidence that it was the military wing of Hezbollah [which bombed Burgas]. That's the prerequisite, even in legal terms, but then, as always in the listing process, you need to ask yourself: 'Is this the right thing to do?' ...For Hezbollah, you might ask, given the situation in Lebanon, which is a highly fragile, highly fragmented country, is listing it going to help you achieve what you want? ...There is no automatic listing just because you have been behind a terrorist attack. It's not only the legal requirement that you have to take into consideration, it's also a political assessment of the context and the timing"... There is "no consensus" among EU states on whether listing Hezbollah would be helpful or not.

His politically-fine-tuned voice happens to have been a key one in European circles for some years:
Mr Gilles de KERCHOVE was appointed EU Counter-terrorism Coordinator on 19 September 2007. In this function, Mr Gilles de KERCHOVE will coordinate the work of the Council of the EU in the field of counter-terrorism, maintain an overview of all the instruments at the Union's disposal, closely monitor the implementation of the EU counter-terrorism strategy, fostering better communication between the EU and third Countries and ensure that the Union plays an active role in the fight against terrorism [From the website of the Council of the EU]

The article adds the "political" viewpoint as well. An unnamed EU diplomat is quoted saying:
"It's difficult to say what will happen until Bulgaria files its report. The way these things are phrased could be very important. There could be lots of ifs and maybes or it could contain very concrete elements... Hezbollah plays a very important political role in Lebanon."
So discount the lofty speeches about the urgency of addressing terrorist threats and the risks they pose to civilized society. For the people at Europe's steering wheels, it comes down to politics by other names. 

Two weeks ago we posted here about a French official who reaches for the fig leaf of "the common position of the Council of the European Union" dating back to December 2001. That requires "specific measures to fight against terrorism", including adding new names to the list of proscribed terrorist organizations in the EU, to be based on "a consensus among Member States. This consensus is not currently met”, said the official, not exactly falling on his sword in despair.

It's not as if people don't understand the scale of the threat from Hizbollah. The then-outgoing US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said two years ago that Hezbollah was armed at that time "with more missiles and rockets than most states, possibly armed with chemical or biological warheads". And as we have learned here the hard way [see "30-Jul-06: Neighbourhood Barbarians"], those missiles and rockets are rarely aimed at military targets.

Morsi has Minced the Two-State Palestine Solution

Morsi has Minced the Two-State Palestine Solution

Moris's words are the icing on the cake for the wake in memory of the 'two-state solution'.

David Singer

Any hope of a negotiated two-state solution being achieved under the Oslo Accords and the Bush Road Map has been blown away following the publication of statements made by Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi in September 2010 - which have recently surfaced and come back to haunt him in January 2013.

President Obama must rue the day he made the following reported comment in the New York Times after the Gaza ceasefire on November 21:

“Mr. Obama told aides he was impressed with the Egyptian leader’s pragmatic confidence .. He sensed an engineer’s precision with surprisingly little ideology.”

To the contrary - Morsi's 2010 statements reveal a great deal of ideology concerning the two-state solution and Jews.

Morsi's scathing and dismissive comments were made on 23 September 2010 (as reported by MEMRI - the Middle East Media Research Institute)

"These futile [Israeli-Palestinian] negotiations are a waste of time and opportunities. The Zionists buy time and gain more opportunities, as the Palestinians, the Arabs, and the Muslims lose time and opportunities, and they get nothing out of it. We can see how this dream has dissipated. This dream has always been an illusion... This [Palestinian] Authority was created by the Zionist and American enemies for the sole purpose of opposing the will of the Palestinian people and its interests.

He added for good measure

"No reasonable person can expect any progress on this track. Either [you accept] the Zionists and everything they want, or else it is war. This is what these occupiers of the land of Palestine know – these blood-suckers, who attack the Palestinians, these warmongers, the descendants of apes and pigs.

This tirade had been preceded by the following statements made by Morsi on Al-Quds TV (Lebanon) March 20, 2010:

"The Zionists have no right to the land of Palestine. There is no place for them on the land of Palestine. What they took before 1947-8 constitutes plundering, and what they are doing now is a continuation of this plundering. By no means do we recognize their Green Line. The land of Palestine belongs to the Palestinians, not to the Zionists

"We must confront this Zionist entity. All ties of all kinds must be severed with this plundering criminal entity, which is supported by America and its weapons, as well as by its own nuclear weapons, the existence of which is well known...

"We want a country for the Palestinians on the entire land of Palestine, on the basis of [Palestinian] citizenship. All the talk about a two-state solution and about peace is nothing but an illusion, which the Arabs have been chasing for a long time now. They will not get from the Zionists anything but this illusion."

The publication of these remarks elicited the following mealy-mouthed response from the White House

“We strongly condemn the remark that then-Muslim Brotherhood leader Morsi made in 2010. The language that we have seen is deeply offensive. We completely reject these statements, as we do any language that espouses religious hatred. This discourse–this is a broader point–this kind of discourse has been acceptable in the region for far too long and it’s counter to the goal of peace.

"President Morsi should make clear that he respects people of all faiths, and that this type of rhetoric is not acceptable or productive in a democratic Egypt. Since taking office President Morsi has reaffirmed Egypt’s commitment to its peace treaty with Israel in both word and deed, and has proven willing to work with us towards shared objectives including a ceasefire during the crisis in Gaza last year. These commitments are essential to our bi-lateral relations with Egypt as well as for stability in the region.”

Morsi has so far not obliged the White House.

Why should he? The negotiations have failed - despite offers by Israel in 2000/2001 and 2008.

Morsi's prescription for curing such failure is a recipe for disaster.

Pursuing a proposal so vigorously opposed by Egypt seems to be the height of stupidity. It cannot and will not eventuate in the face of such opposition.

Unphased by this development - the following statement was made last week following a meeting in Perth of AUKMIN - the Australia-UK Ministerial Consultations attended by Australia's Foreign Minister Senator Bob Carr, the Australian Minister for Defence – Stephen Smith- and the UK Foreign and Defence Secretaries, William Hague and Philip Hammond.

“The Palestinian Authority and the new Israeli government must engage seriously in negotiations without preconditions. Actions by both sides must be in the interests of peace. Neither side should create obstacles to that objective”

The obstacle to engaging in such negotiations is pretty basic – the PA is dead and buried since it was decreed out of existence by Mahmoud Abbas on 3 January.

Compounding their gaffe the Ministers continued:

” We call on the Palestinian Authority to exercise restraint and avoid provocative actions at international forums.”

The PA has vanished into thin air – no longer able to cause or avoid provocative actions and will no longer be seen at international forums.

This inescapable fact and the revelation of the Morsi statements seem to be of no consequence to these Ministers.

They are in good company with President Obama - whose spokesman Jay Carney had this to say on 23 January:

"We believe that what needs to take place is direct negotiations between the two parties that address the final-status issues and that result in a two-state solution that provides the sovereignty that the Palestinian people deserve and the security that the Israeli people and Israel deserves"

The expectation that Israel could give the Palestinian Arabs what they themselves were never prepared to accept between 1948-1967 - has proved impossible to achieve

The restoration of the status quo that existed at 5 June 1967 - so far as can now occur given the changed circumstances on the ground - remains their last hope.

This will involve negotiations between Israel, Jordan and Egypt to allocate sovereignty in the "West Bank"  and Gaza between their respective States and the abandonment of the two-state solution.

Given Morsi's extreme views - the time for any negotiations involving Egypt might need to be put on hold - whilst negotiations with Jordan on the return of part of the "West Bank" to its last Arab occupier are attempted.

One thing is certain - a change of course is urgently required - or we will all suffer from the ensuing shipwreck that is staring us in the face.

Flogging a dead horse is not a good idea since the stench emanating from the decomposing body will soon become too overpowering.

Et tu, Britain?

Et tu, Britain?

David M. Weinberg

Gerald Scarfe's blood-curdling anti-Israel cartoon in The Sunday Times this week is the proverbial canary in the coal mine. It should sound a piercing alarm about the breakdown of all limits on reasonable discourse when it comes to Israel.

The editorial cartoon depicts newly re-elected Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu building a wall using the blood of Palestinians for cement, and trapping writhing Palestinians among the bricks. "Israeli elections — will cementing peace continue?" reads the caustic caption.

It's clear that the image is meant not only to express criticism of Israeli diplomacy (the building of the security fence, the denial of Palestinian independence, and the suffering of Palestinians under Israeli occupation). It's clear that the cartoon is meant also to evoke Biblical imagery of Pharaoh burying the Israelites alive in the walls of the palaces and pyramids of Egypt — a tale that every Christian and Jewish youngster is familiar with.

It's clear that the cartoon not only criticizes Israel, but demonizes it.

It says that Netanyahu is a callous, bloodthirsty, out-of-control maniac who eats Palestinians for breakfast, grinds their bones for lunch, mixes their blood for mortar before afternoon tea, and uses their skulls as building blocks before sitting down to dinner.

It says that Israel's security fence is a Pol Pot-like construct of horrors, with stacked rows of skulls locked into place by a murderous dictator.

When this cartoon runs on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, it says that Israelis are the new Nazis. Thus, Europe no longer has to feel so guilty for what was done to the Jews 60 years ago. After all, the Jews of Israel are no more moral than the Nazis were.

The cartoon can definitely be labeled anti-Semitic because it crosses the line between legitimate criticism of Israel and "new" anti-Semitism, which aims to disempower the Jewish people by whittling away at the Jewish state.

This line was clearly defined by Natan Sharansky more than a decade ago when he was minister for Jerusalem and diaspora affairs and founder of the Global Forum against Anti-Semitism. He developed a simple test — he called it the "3D" test — to distinguish legitimate criticism of Israel from anti-Semitism. Sharansky's test scrutinizes criticism of Israel for demonization, double standards and delegitimization of Israel — which devolve into the dark zone of anti-Semitic expression and intent.

Gerald Scarfe's Sunday Times cartoon flagrantly fails Sharansky's first two tests.

When Israel's West Bank policies are blown out of all sensible proportion, when comparisons are made between security fences and Khmer Rouge-like execution camps, between genocidal pharaohs and Israeli prime ministers, and between Israeli leaders and Nazi leaders on Holocaust Memorial Day — it is demonization, not legitimate criticism of Israel.

When criticism of Israel is applied selectively, when Israel is singled out for carefully building a defensive security fence that saves both Israeli and Palestinian lives and which is subject to judicial review and adjustment (while the gross human rights abuses by Syria's Bashar al-Assad, Egypt's Mohammed Morsi and Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are underplayed), when Israel's democratically elected leader is excoriated with blood imagery (while the oppressive sheiks and sultans of the Islamic world are coddled), when Israel's vibrant democracy and honorable election results are dismissed as nothing more than an opportunity for Netanyahu to continue killing Palestinians (while the very undemocratic Palestinian leaders continue to oppress their own people) — it is an anti-Israel double standard, not fair comment or legitimate criticism of Israel.

Can it be that no one at The Sunday Times is aware that Israel views the security fence as an unfortunate measure, made necessary only by the Palestinian campaign of suicide bombings that killed over a thousand Israelis? Can it be that no one at The Sunday Times is aware of the fact the Palestinians have fled from Israeli peace offers three times over the past decade? Can it be that no one at The Sunday Times thinks that the Israeli-Palestinian dispute can be discussed without resorting to diabolical and satanic imagery about Israel?

Almost a decade ago, the great American novelist, my friend Cynthia Ozick, wrote: "The contemporary big lie concerns the Jews of Israel: They are oppressors in the style of the Nazis; they ruthlessly pursue, and perpetuate, 'occupation' solely for the sake of domination and humiliation; they purposefully kill Palestinian children; their military have committed massacres; their government 'violates international law'; their nationhood and their sovereignty have no legitimacy; they are intruders and usurpers inhabiting an illicit 'entity,' and not a people entitled as other peoples are entitled; and so on and so on. Reviving both blood libel and deicide, respectable European journals publish political cartoons showing Prime Minister [Ariel] Sharon devouring Palestinian babies, and Israeli soldiers bayoneting the infant Jesus."

Now we can add to Ozick's list: respectable British newspapers that publish political cartoons showing Netanyahu mercilessly shoveling screaming Palestinians and bloody mortar into his criminal concentration camp wall on Holocaust Remembrance Day.

The fact that this cartoon appeared in the mainstream British press, not the crackpot, fringe or radical Islamic press, is telling. It says that Britain is in danger of sliding into sinister anti-Semitic spheres when it comes to discussing Israel.

The government-controlled media in Egypt, Iran, Jordan, Lebanon, the Palestinian Authority, Syria, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states invariably present Jews and Israelis as poisonous snakes, genocidal Pharaohs, bloodthirsty crusaders, and murderous Nazis. Et tu, Britain?