Part 10 of “The Isolation of Israel: Peril and Opportunity”
This is part ten of Professor Paul Merkley’s series, “The Isolation of Israel: Peril and Opportunity.” Access to the previous installments can be found by clicking on the following links: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, and Part 9.
It has been well-known for at least four decades that the best way of getting a nation’s delegation praised by a majority of the members of the General Assembly of the United Nations is to sponsor a Resolution attacking Israel. Likewise, the minimum condition for achieving eligibility to any worthwhile UN commission or standing committee of any kind is to vote consistently with the anti-Israel majority in all other such Resolutions.
Over the past forty years, more than one-quarter of resolutions passed by the UN Commission on Human Rights have condemned Israel. Within the UN Secretariat there is a whole division called the Division for Palestinian Rights; the UN General Assembly has a standing Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable rights of the Palestinian People as well as the Special Committee to Investigate Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People. For perspective, we note that no UN body has ever been tasked with the protection of Christians, the body that endures by far the most persecution throughout the world.
This state of affairs has been achieved by reason of a simple fact: that the Organization of the Islamic Conference, having 56 Islamic states as members, amounts to almost 30 percent of the UN membership today and acts as a solid caucus. None of the hundreds of Resolutions issuing from the UN Commission on Human Rights Commission or the Human Rights Council has ever condemned an Arab country – not, at least until the so-called “Arab Spring” of 2011 set the older tyrants of the Middle East into a frenzy of condemnation of those of their guild who were clearly about to be overthrown. Nor has the UN Human Rights Council ever condemned China, the nation responsible (according to all disinterested research) for the largest amount of the large scale deprival of human rights in the world today. The explanation for this oversight is simple: namely that China’s delegates regularly support the positions of the 56 Muslim nations as quid pro quo for respectful silence on life in China. The other major violators of human rights in real life are beneficiaries of parallel arrangements.
In the year 2002-2003 alone, the UN called three “Emergency Sessions” for the purpose of condemning Israel, while the General Assembly passed eighteen resolutions that singled out Israel for criticism. As for the other 190 countries, a total of four resolutions of condemnation issued from the UN General Assembly in that year. [“An Assessment of Canada’s UN Votes on the Middle East Based on the Newly-devised ‘3-D test’”, Institute for International Affairs, B’nai Brith, Toronto, 2005.] In October, 2009, the UN Human Rights Council held a special session for the purpose of ratifying the Goldstone Report on the war in Gaza (December 2008-January 2009) – a document which Israel regards as overwhelmingly biased against Israel, and which its author, awkwardly, has since largely disowned. [“Goldstone and Gaza, “ New York Review of Books, May 26, 2012. ] Of all the resolutions and decisions condemning specific states for human rights violations that the UN Human Rights Council has sent forth since its creation in 2006, forty-one percent have been directed at Israel.
Persons well-disposed in principle to Israel and generally concerned for fairness when forming judgments about political matters can be stopped dead in their tracks when someone rises up in some forum or other and says: “How can you possibly defend the nation that stands condemned before the United Nations as the one nation that has been in non-compliance with more UN resolutions than any other? (There are no runners-up for this distinction.) Can the Parliament of the Mankind be wrong?
Yes, indeed, it can.
The first thing to note is that the gang-up on Israel has been facilitated throughout these sixty-odd years by the fact that under UN rules Israel is the only member of the UN ineligible to sit on committees and commissions and agencies that have their headquarters in Geneva or Vienna – a category that includes major UN Commissions such as the Human Rights Commission and its successor, the Council on Human Rights. Since Israeli is the only country not allowed to be a player in the game, extra marks or for correctness go to the eligible players for excellence in creative defamation of the pariah.
A full and sufficient corrective for the impression of Israel’s lawlessness is a little attention to those nations which have over recent decades been singled out by the UN for honors belonging to good behavior. Hillel Neuer of Human Rights Watch notes:
In the past decade, the U.N. Human Rights Council elected Col. Muammar Gaddafi’s Libya as chair, hailed Sri Lanka’s “promotion and protection of all human rights” after its army had killed thousands of civilians, and convened an emergency session to lament the death of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, founder of the Hamas terrorist organization.
A new low has just been reached: Bashar al-Assad of Syria has recently declared his regime’s candidacy for a seat which becomes available in 2014. The U.S. and the European Union have suggested to the General Assembly that Syria might just be ineligible for this honor, by reason of its present preoccupation with the liquidation of its own population. Cuba and China, among others have spoken against establishing such a precedent, while Russia and India have suggested that the matter of this candidacy is “premature” – as though we were still lacking in proof that Syria is a Human Rights violator. The Ambassadors of Syria and Kuwait have met recently and announced a deal between them, under which Kuwait would replace Syria as the Middle East candidate for the UN Human Rights Council while Syria will present itself again in 2014.
Meanwhile the dictator Assad can take satisfaction in the fact that Syria retains its seats, won by unanimous vote a few months ago, on two of he human rights committees under the U.N.’s Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO.) [Hillel Neuer, “ UN Watch Exclusive Report: Syria Running for the U.N. Human Rights Council,” http://www.unwatch.org ]
Clearly there is an absolute disconnection between the general verdict of decent and well-informed people regarding these monsters and the opinion – or the calculation — of the people who make decisions on behalf of the Parliament of Mankind. To Paraphrase Groucho Marx: “Who would want to belong to club that has me as a member?”
The current Human Rights Council contains China, Cuba, Russia, and Saudi Arabia, four of the countries reckoned by non-profit organizations as among the worst offenders against Human Rights. A UN rule that requires rotation on the Council assures that these four must give up their seats for a year before they qualify to return. But standing ready to replace them are other bottom-feeders in the great tank of Human Rights, including Venezuela, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Ethiopia, Côte d’Ivoire, the United Arab Emirates, and Gabon. Every one of these can be found in the column “NOT FREE” in the literature of the eminent Human Rights NGO called Freedom House, which has applied the same designation to current members Qatar, Angola, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
To paraphrase Groucho Marx: Who would want to belong to a club that has me for a member?
Islamic definitions of Human Rights: The Cairo Declaration (1994)
The ultimate anomaly in this Alice-in-Wonderland story is that after the United Nations Declaration of Universal Human rights was published in December, 1948, all the Muslim nations met as the Islamic Conference and agreed that, out of Muslim conscience, none of them could sign.
To this very day, all the Muslims states that dominate the process of casting Human Rights violators into outer darkness are non-subscribers to the UNHR Declaration which they use as the basic reference document in determining infractions against Human Rights.
The same Islamic body met again in 1991 in Cairo with the purpose of promoting the understanding throughout the world that Islamic Shari’ah is the only possible foundation for law. In 1992 that body presented to the United Nations the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights (CDHRI), adopted by members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference. It was strongly condemned by the International Commission of Jurists. This document mimics the universalist and humanist vocabulary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights but devastates that language absolutely by insisting that “all rights and freedoms mentioned are subject to Shariah law.” Its authors seem unaware of the elements of Islamic particularity that continue to cling even when its language is nearest to being universalistic. Noteworthy too is the document’s absolute rejection of the right to choose one’s religious faith.
Incredibly, none of our politicians has ever raised the obvious question: how did these people get to be the designated referees in a game that they refuse to play because it is unworthy of them? This anomaly is never discussed in politically sophisticated circles, since it might weaken enthusiasm for the UN and feed the growing popular desire to withdraw.
But before we conclude that the UNHRC is neglecting its duty we should note that in its most recent report it does note in passing that Syria has been guilty of human rights violations, as has Sudan, and North Korea and Eritrea, and other regimes so notorious that not to notice them would immediately sink the committee. But much more attention is given to an issue which the UN High Commissioner Navi Pillay regards as above all others most “alarming” – and that is the recent “moves to restrict freedom of assembly” in the Canadian Province of Quebec – a theme illustrated by police response to the student strike in that province. [From UNWatch, July 4. 2012.
Anne Bayefsky, “The UN’s twisted human rights agenda,” National Post, June 20, 2012. ]
There may be an opportunity for Israel in the circumstance that the Arab Spring has brought to the attention of even the dullest and the least principled the upside-down morality that operates at the heart of the United Nations – the morality which Canada upholds by reason of being a member of the UN. Governments that have not altogether given up on the possibility that there is right and wrong to review their compliance with the UN’s fixation on defamation of Israel. Let us take an even bolder step – and hope that it might even cause the World Council of Churches to review its policy of nearly 65 years of vigorously and un critically supporting the entire roster of anti-Israel propositions that have emerged from the UN and which they imagine reflect the conscience of mankind.
The UN Human Rights Council exists for the purpose of using the prestige of the United Nations to defame Israel and to defame Western Civilization – two sides of the same coin. Half of the time and the energy of the UN Human rights Council goes into hiding what stands in plain sight – the virtual non-existence of human rights among the bottom feeders, the Muslim States, several of whom are perennial members of the UNHCR; and the other half goes into vilifying Western governments – especially those that most people in the world are fleeing into as the Arab world plunges into chaos.