Hamas launched thousands of rockets at Israel last summer, and hid its weapons in schools, including United Nations-run facilities and other civilian sites.
Yet, in a July 2014 report issued by the U.N. Human Rights Council directly in the wake of the rocket attacks, the agency lambasted Israel, and rehashed every charge seemingly ever made against the Jewish state.
And it is about to do it again in a report due next month.
In last year’s resolution – which ran four single-spaced pages -- Hamas, incredibly, was never cited by name.
That 2014 resolution was the usual U.N. stew, referencing previous anti-Israel measures and new allegations about Israeli “human rights violations.” It came out of yet another special Human Rights Council session unfairly attacking Israel. This, too, would not be unusual for the U.N. since nearly one-third of all special sessions of the Human Rights Council are devoted to the situation in the “Occupied Palestinian Territories.”
The initial resolution was notable for its focus on Gaza, with little regard for the impact of the indiscriminate firing on Israelis. The resolution charges Israel with indiscriminate attacks and grave “human rights violations.” But there is no condemnation for all of the indiscriminate Hamas rocket barrages that ignited the conflict last summer or any note that Israelis have been the targets of indiscriminate Hamas rockets for well more than 10 years.
What about the human rights of Israeli citizens?
This willful and perverse omission of Hamas from the resolution was not only brazen, but also par for the course for the Human Rights Council, which, at a time of global turmoil, particularly in the Middle East and Southwest Asia, still devotes more time and attention to Israel than to human rights crises in such places as Iran, Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan, Sudan and Syria.
What about the human rights of Israeli citizens? And now we are on the eve of results from yet another U.N.-sponsored “fact-finding” effort about Israel.
Should we expect anything different from the report due next month? Not really.
The council conducted its investigation through an appointed commission and began reaching its conclusions under the leadership of William Schabas, an outspoken and unabashedly biased critic of Israel. Though Schabas stepped down from his position this month once it was revealed that he had been a paid consultant for the Palestine Liberation Organization, his anti-Israel writings were already well-documented public knowledge. Yet he was still chosen to lead this supposedly “independent” panel, despite a chorus of criticism when he was named to the post. His very presence on the committee from the get-go prejudiced the outcome of its findings.
The “evidence” this panel has collected against Israel ought to be discarded and the work of the committee discontinued. There was never even a veneer of neutrality in the decision to convene the investigation in the first place.
Schabas’ appointment to the panel, in fact, reveals the way the United Nations does business when it comes to Israel. He is not the first critic of Israel to lead a U.N. investigatory body. This panel is just more proof of continuing bias. Sadly, it will probably not be the last.
How did the panel come about? In what has become a standard pattern at the United Nations, the Human Rights Council declared that Israel was already guiltya priori of a variety of crimes. Then it formed a new committee and charged it with investigating those crimes. Basically, it reached its conclusion, and then sought evidence to support it.
While the Schabas departure has resulted in a new chair in place, and while the final results could possibly change, that is not likely. Since the commission was formed with a pre-conceived notion, and since Schabas shepherded the lion’s share of the commission’s work, and with expectations high about its harsh criticism of Israel, don’t bet on any surprises.
The oft-used cliché, “we’ve seen this movie before,” is highly applicable here.
Every time a U.N. committee writes a report about Israel or resolutions are adopted criticizing the Jewish state, it further marginalizes the United Nations as a reliable venue for conflict resolution, and proves once again that the world body cannot speak with credibility on these issues.
Soon, the United Nations Human Rights Council will once again turn its attention to the annual “Item 7” on its agenda. That is the basket of anti-Israel resolutions taken up each session that speaks to the heart of this credibility gap. The voting blocs at the U.N. always march in lockstep, blindly castigating Israel. If they were honestly interested in a peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, they would realize that condemning Israel year after year contributes only to un-meetable Palestinian expectations and justifiable frustration on the part of Israel.
In turn, Israel then sees an organization unfairly obsessed with Israel at the expense of addressing serious fires burning in the Middle East and elsewhere. You would think Israel’s critics would try carrots, but instead they keep applying bigger sticks.
Therein lies the problem with the forthcoming “Schabas report,” the expected support once again for Item 7, and by extension, a failed United Nations system.
Daniel S. Mariaschin is the Executive Vice President at B'nai B'rith International, and has spent nearly all of his professional life working on behalf of Jewish organizations. As the organization’s top executive officer, he directs and supervises B’nai B’rith programs, activities and staff in the more than 50 countries where B’nai B’rith is organized. He also serves as director of B'nai B'rith's Center for Human Rights and Public Policy (CHRPP). In that capacity, he presents B’nai B’rith’s perspective to a variety of audiences, including Congress and the media, and coordinates the center’s programs and policies on issues of concern to the Jewish community. To view some of his additional content, Click Here.
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