B’nai B'rith Speaks Out At United Nations Human Rights Council Against Biased Report On 2014 Gaza Conflict
B’nai B’rith International was responsible for delivering two statements on June 29 at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva, both relating to the council’s recent report on the 2014 Hamas-initiated Gaza conflict.
The first, delivered by B’nai B’rith representative to the United Nations in Geneva Klaus Netter, admonished the council for its refusal to even acknowledge the terrorist group Hamas by name in its resolution launching the investigation, let alone fully recognizing its true intentions to destroy Israel. Netter said: “Human rights mechanisms such as this Council often see their role as to name-and-shame human rights abusers. Unless the abuser is Hamas. In that case, the Council will ignore-and-obscure. We must ask: What it will take for this Council to pronounce the name ‘Hamas?’”
Netter noted: “There is no moral equivalence between Israel and Hamas. As recently confirmed by a group of international military experts, Israel far exceeded the obligations of International Humanitarian Law in its counter-terrorism operations last summer. Hamas, on the other hand, dug tunnels into Israeli territory with the sole aim of carrying out horrendous terrorist attacks against Israeli farming communities near the border.”
In his statement, Netter focused on the lack of acknowledgement that Israel was defending itself against the “ruthless terrorist organization” that is Hamas.
Click here to read Netter’s intervention: http://bit.ly/1g2xdHs
Separately, in cooperation with JINSA (the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs), Geoffrey Corn, a professor of law and the U.S. Army’s former senior expert on the Law of Armed Conflict, spoke under Agenda Item 7 about the flaws inherent in the report on the Gaza conflict.
In his intervention, Corn raised a number of objections to the validity and accuracy of the report. At one point, he focused on how Hamas terrorists hid fighters and weapons among the civilian population of Gaza: “Specifically, it omits assessment of how an enemy’s systemic failure to distinguish himself from civilians, and in fact deliberately exploit the perception of civilian status, impacts the reasonableness of attack judgments.”
Click here to read Corn’s intervention: http://bit.ly/1InXBGL
To watch these interventions, see Chapter 49 (02:03:18, Netter) and Chapter 53 (02:11:55, Corn) here: http://webtv.un.org/watch/item7-general-debate-34th-meeting-29th-regular-session-of-human-rights-council/4328108187001
The Palestinian Authority (PA) is once again misappropriating an important global forum to advance its own agenda rather than to advance the cause of peace. In a move that further demonstrates its true intentions, which is to use global venues to strong-arm Israel (rather than negotiate), the PA has accused Israel of “war crimes.”
The PA provided documents to the International Criminal Court (ICC) detailing what it claims are Israel’s “war crimes,” relating to Israel’s self-defense in Gaza in 2014, along with its settlement construction projects in other parts of Israel.
This incessant effort to internationalize the conflict with Israel shows the PA’s true hand. The PA consistently has tried to isolate and delegitimize the Jewish state by outlandishly characterizing Israel’s attempts to defend itself from terrorist attacks as war crimes.
Six months ago, when PA President Mahmoud Abbas submitted an application to the ICC, B’nai B’rith wrote:
“In order to preserve the essential principle of conflict resolution through negotiation, and the fundamental right and duty of responsible states to combat terrorism, Palestinian exporting of political grievances to The Hague must be firmly rejected internationally.”
While the delivery of these documents makes for good show, true efforts by the Palestinians to work for peace are nonexistent.
The delivery of these documents should be viewed by the world community as yet another cynical move to divert attention from the complete lack of effort by the PA to work toward peace.
B’nai B’rith International has issued the following statement:
B’nai B’rith International delivered a statement on March 23 at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), speaking under the biased anti-Israel item 7 to address the body’s just-deferred “Commission of Inquiry” report on Israel’s conflict with Hamas during the summer of 2014.
B’nai B’rith representative to the U.N. in Geneva Klaus Netter normally speaks under UNHRC agenda item 4, under which all countries except Israel are considered, but instead spoke under item 7 as the commission’s conclusions had previously been expected to be released in that context. Netter admonished the council for the selection of an outspoken critic of Israel, William Schabas, as the chairman of the inquiry. Schabas resigned following the revelation that he had served as a paid consultant to the Palestine Liberation Organization.
Netter explained: “We are speaking under this item, because we had expected that the report of the ‘Commission of Inquiry’ on last year’s conflict in and around Gaza would be submitted by today. Its submission was delayed on account of the most unusual resignation of the commission’s chairman, who had neglected to report his previous consultancy relationship with one of the parties to the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Never in the council’s nine-year history—or indeed in the 60-year history of its predecessor [Human Rights] Commission—had such an embarrassment occurred. It should serve as a warning in future selections of commission members and special rapporteurs.”
Netter concluded by putting the Palestinian-Israeli conflict into perspective in the broader context of unrest in the Middle East, highlighting the council’s obsession with Israel and its willful ignorance of the incomparable atrocities being committed in Syria: “The number of victims in all past Israel-Arab hostilities constitute a small portion of the 200,000 victims caused by the Syrian conflict next door, but this relationship is hardly reflected in the number of resolutions coming before the council this week.”
A batch of rote anti-Israel motions and reports—more than those targeting any other country—are expected to be approved by the body, whose own members include serial rights violators.
Image via Flickr
B’nai B’rith International sent its annual leadership delegation to Geneva to advocate on urgent issues facing the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), including the body’s just deferred “Commission of Inquiry” report on the Israel’s conflict with Hamas during the summer of 2014, the continuing abuse of the Jewish state more generally at the council, Iran's destructive domestic and regional policies, and the widespread unrest in the Middle East.
Some two-dozen B’nai B’rith International leaders and supporters, including with three representatives from the national Jewish fraternity Alpha Epsilon Pi (AEPi), met with senior representatives from more than 40 countries. B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs and Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin led the delegation.
The B’nai B’rith delegation expressed deep concern over the council’s “independent, international commission of inquiry” into Israel’s defensive operations in Gaza during the summer of 2014. Under the chairmanship of Canadian academic William Schabas there was a sense this report would highly biased against Israel. Schabas had previously suggested that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and former President Shimon Peres (a Nobel peace prize laureate) should be brought before the International Criminal Court. Eight months into the commission’s “inquiry” it was revealed Schabas had served as a consultant to the Palestine Liberation Organization. Schabas resigned last month in the wake of that revelation and has since been replaced by former-U.S. judge Mary McGowan Davis.
This week the council announced the report’s delay until the June session, but most of the “evidence” had already been compiled under Schabas’ chairmanship. We urged diplomats in Geneva to carefully scrutinize the report that is issued in June for any one-sidedness against Israel.
“Every year B’nai B’rith leaders from around the world come to the Human Rights Council, and every year, sadly, it’s the same: an obsessive and outrageous focus on Israel that even the most deplorable regimes on Earth don’t receive,” Jacobs said. “It is our job to hold the U.N. accountable for this discrimination and hypocrisy.”
More broadly, the delegation focused on “Item 7,” the standing agenda item scrutinizing Israel apart from all other countries, and how the actions of the United Nations and its agencies dampen prospects for peace by encouraging Palestinian unilateralism. The international community’s too-frequent disregard for terrorism against Israel —whether it be car attacks on light rail stations or rockets raining down from Gaza—was also emphasized in the meetings.
“B’nai B’rith has been extremely vocal about the Human Rights Council’s “Commission of Inquiry” and especially about the chairmanship of William Schabas because of his record and that of the Human Rights Council on Israel,” Mariaschin said. “The deferral of the report until June bears watching, but we still remain wary of the outcome. In Geneva B’nai B’rith made sure to inform the international community that anything released that unfairly attacks the Jewish state is an unambiguous politicization of the council by Israel's non-democratic adversaries and should be rejected.”
U.S. Ambassador, Officials Address B’nai B’rith Diplomatic Reception
On March 11, B’nai B’rith leadership held its annual reception at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, hosting numerous ambassadors and other diplomatic officials. Highlights of the evening included remarks from U.S. Ambassador to the Human Rights Council Keith Harper, Israeli Deputy Permanent Representative Omer Caspi and Chief of Cabinet of the Director-General of the U.N. Offices in Geneva David Chikvaidze.
On March 10, Jacobs and Mariaschin attended at dinner hosted by Harper in honor of Israeli Ambassador Eviatar Manor.
In addition to Jacobs and Mariaschin, B’nai B’rith was represented by: Chair of the Executive Board of Directors Gary Saltzman of Denver, Colo.; Senior Vice President Ira Bartfield of Arlington, Va.; Senior Vice President Daniel Citone of Rome; B’nai B’rith Europe President Erika van Gelder of Amsterdam; Helene Briskman of London; Menahem Briskman of London; Eric Engelmayer of Luxembourg City, Luxembourg; Mike Gellman of Washington, D.C.; Jacques Jacubert of Paris; David Matas of Winnipeg, Canada; Irving Silver of Mobile, Ala.; Dan Tartakovski of Mexico City; and Stéphane Teicher of Paris.
B’nai B’rith International’s Director of United Nations and Intercommunal Affairs David Michaels coordinated the visit in Geneva together with U.N. Affairs Program Officer Oren Drori, from New York.
Supporting B’nai B’rith on the ground before and after the arrival of the delegation in Geneva were local B’nai B’rith representatives to the U.N. Klaus Netter, Armand Azoulai, Richard Sadoune, Zary Acher, and Anita Winter from Zurich.
AEPi Executive Director and B’nai B’rith Board of Governors Member Andy Borans of Indianapolis, Ind., represented the fraternity, along with Civic Engagement Coordinator David Marias of Indianapolis and UC-Santa Cruz student Anthony Milgram.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) announced that it will open a preliminary investigation into war crimes committed during the summer conflict in the Gaza Strip, hostilities that included, and were precipitated by, massive violence targeting civilians across Israel.
Though it is unclear whether prosecutors at The Hague will formally issue charges, B’nai B’rith condemns this unjustified probe prompted by the Palestinians as the latest page in their playbook that will undoubtedly continue to single handedly undercuts prospects for peace.
“We’ve seen in recent weeks that the Palestinian Authority seems incapable of making necessarily hard decisions to negotiate an agreement and would much prefer to have the United Nations Security Council and the ICC do its bidding,” B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs said.
“It also speaks volumes that Mahmoud Abbas would to go to the ICC and spur this investigation while his regime is tied to Hamas terrorists who started the summer conflict by kidnapping and murdering three innocent Israeli teenagers and firing rockets indiscriminately at Israeli communities.”
The ICC announcement comes on the heels of the U.N. Security Council's decision to reject a Palestinian ultimatum that would have attempted to force the unconditional fulfillment of the Palestinians' political demands on Israel.
What the Palestinians are attempting to do now perverts the original objective of a permanent international tribunal that would bring to justice the perpetrators of crimes against humanity.
At the time of its creation many were concerned that, given the United Nation’s failed record in these matters, it would one day be used by the Palestinians to unilaterally advance its agenda against Israel.
“The methods that the Palestinian Authority has chosen in an attempt to create a state outside of direct negotiations with Israel by resorting to international pressure can only exacerbate the conflict, not resolve it,” B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said.
“If the PA is really serious about this process, it should focus its efforts on ending incitement against Israel and making the compromises necessary to finally move toward an agreement.”
B’nai B’rith Condemns U.N. Secretary-General for Ignoring Violent Extremism as “Root Cause” of Palestinian-Israeli Hostilities
B’nai B’rith International has issued the following statement:
B’nai B’rith International condemns U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for attributing the 50-day summer hostilities between Israel and Hamas to “a restrictive occupation that has lasted almost half a century” while speaking at the Cairo conference on reconstruction in Gaza on Oct. 12.
Ban said “we must not lose sight of the root causes of the recent hostilities: a restrictive occupation that has lasted almost half a century, the continued denial of Palestinian rights and the lack of tangible progress in peace negotiations.”
The secretary-general should refrain from making biased, inflammatory remarks perpetuating a false image of Israel as an occupying aggressor. Ban, in his comments, did make mention of Hamas rocket attacks that were “fired indiscriminately causing fear, panic and suffering.” However, he does not account for anti-Israel terrorists’ role in igniting and sustaining conflict—a stunning and inexplicable omission.
Israel completely withdrew from Gaza in 2005, just as it did in Sinai after reaching a peace treaty with Egypt. In return for leaving Gaza, Israel received intensified attacks and threats against its citizenry. Israel has also repeatedly offered Palestinian statehood and the provision of all of Palestinians’ needs in sweeping peace offers—but these have been declined without fail by the Palestinian Authority leadership. Hamas, for its part, is doctrinally committed to the total destruction of the Jewish state.
Combating other Islamist groups, like ISIS, while ignoring or handing propaganda victories to ones like Hamas is unconscionable and no service to advancing Palestinian-Israeli peace. The open fanaticism, terrorism and armament of Arab extremists is the patent “root cause” of recurring conflict with Israel.
B’nai B’rith International has issued the following statement:
In the wake of the naming of partisan “experts” to the United Nations Human Rights Council’s (UNHRC) “independent, international commission of inquiry” on Gaza, B’nai B’rith International reaffirms its clear expectation of bias on the part of the probe. The UNHRC selected William Schabas of Canada, Doudou Diène of Senegal, and Amal Alamuddin of Britain.
B’nai B’rith considers the commission itself illegitimate as it was born of a UNHRC resolution that stridently excoriated Israel in advance of the “inquiry” it launched and didn’t so much as mention Hamas by name. It was specifically designed to scrutinize not years of cross-border terrorist attacks against Israelis, but rather Israel’s defensive response to them. Any suggestion that there is equivalence between terrorism and a state defending its civilians from that threat is both outrageous and unacceptable.
Naming individuals with prior, public positions harshly critical of Israeli policy reinforces strong anticipation that the Gaza probe’s conclusions are foregone. Schabas, for example, was quoted in 2013 as saying, “my favorite would be [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu within the dock of the International Criminal Court.”
Alamuddin—who is engaged to actor George Clooney—has now said she is unavailable to sit on the UNHRC commission. Nonetheless, she specified in a statement that she was “horrified” by what she called the “crimes” committed in the “occupied Gaza Strip.” Gaza, however, saw all Israeli military personnel and civilians depart in 2005, and it has been the origin of relentless, criminal violence against the civilians of Israel by Palestinian terrorist groups led by Hamas. Her intended appointment reveals not only the inherent bias of the UNHRC commission and its dispatchers, but also a deplorable attempt to garner publicity for yet another exercise in anti-Israel bias.
B’nai B’rith International has issued the following statement:
B’nai B’rith International continues to be steadfast in its support for Israel as it continues Operation Protective Edge and launches ground operations into Gaza. The decision to launch a ground incursion into Gaza—targeting tunnels leading into Israel and other terrorist infrastructure—comes after Hamas refused an Egyptian attempt at securing a ceasefire between the two sides on July 15.
Even though Hamas agreed to a five-hour humanitarian ceasefire—first agreed to by Israel—on July 17, it adamantly refused the opportunity to extend it, by firing more than 50 rockets into Israel immediately thereafter.
Hamas decided it is more interested in continuing to stream rockets indiscriminately into the Jewish state rather than entering into a more permanent ceasefire, and, at the same time, is demonstrating its utter disregard for its own population.
Since July 8, nearly 1,500 rockets have been fired at Israel. No other country in the world would sit idly while its civilians are under attack, and neither will Israel.