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.
B’nai B’rith International is pleased that William Schabas has quit his position as head of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) inquiry into Israel’s defensive operations in Gaza during the summer of 2014. The probe itself—tarnished from the start by the Council’s record of singular discrimination against Israel and its advance excoriation of the Jewish state—must be discontinued.
Schabas has been under fire since his appointment to head the “independent, international commission of inquiry” due to his prior, outspoken anti-Israel views. It also came to light recently that Schabas, a Canadian academic, was paid to provide legal advice to the Palestine Liberation Organization. Although Schabas says he is excusing himself to avoid overshadowing the results of the commission’s report expected in March, the probe’s “research” has reportedly already been completed.
“This latest U.N. kangaroo court targeting the world’s only Jewish democracy was illegitimate from the beginning. It was cobbled together following a Human Rights Council resolution that blasted Israel before the commission even launched and didn’t so much as mention Hamas,” B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs said. “This inquiry has always been stacked against Israel and Schabas’ resignation only reaffirms how corrupt it is.”
Schabas’ bias against Israel has never been a secret. In 2013 he was quoted as saying, “my favorite would be [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu within the dock of the International Criminal Court.”
“While we welcome the departure of William Schabas from the ‘commission of inquiry,’ his biased, anti-Israel attitude will undoubtedly be present throughout its findings,” B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said. “The inquiry was specifically designed not to focus on years of cross-border terrorist attacks against Israelis, but rather Israel’s defensive response to them. Whatever the Human Rights Council releases in March is likely to attempt to draw equivalence between terrorism and a state defending its civilians from that threat—an outrageous and unacceptable conclusion.”