Latest update: August 21st, 2014
Last week two delegations, one from the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the other from the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, sat down for a 90-minute meeting with UN Secretary-General Ban ki-Moon in his office for an open and frank discussion about the latest war in Gaza ignited by Hamas.
Anyone who has met Mr.Ban knows he is a person with deep respect for Jewish values. A former foreign minister of a country (South Korea) with neighbors like North Korea, Communist China, and Russia, he reiterated to the 11 Jewish leaders in the room – including Malcolm Hoenlein, Abraham Foxman, and leaders from Bnai Brith and Hadassah – that “I understand very well Israel’s security concerns.”
The secretary-general and his team took notes as we outlined the Jewish world’s deep concerns:
- The audacity of the UN Human Rights Council in appointing a commission to investigate the Israeli incursion into Gaza without ever mentioning the name Hamas, which is the only reason Israel had to (re)act in Gaza.
Legal experts we consulted listed at least 19 violations of international law by Hamas, including crimes against humanity victimizing both Israelis and Palestinians.
We have no doubt the current commission will attempt to outdo the outrages of the original Goldstone Report, an investigation so fatally flawed that it was later disowned by Judge Goldstone himself.
Heading the new legal lynching is a Canadian jurist who previously urged that former president Peres and Prime Minister Netanyahu be put on trial.
- Why, we asked the secretary-general, wasn’t the Human Rights Council investigating the underground terror tunnels whose sole purpose was to kidnap Israelis and launch a mega-terrorist strike on Rosh Hashanah?
- How is it, we asked, that UNRWA, the UN agency mandated to help Palestinian “refugees,” would allow its facilities to house Hamas rockets and then return them to the terror group when word got out? Why didn’t any of the thousands of UNRWA employees who know exactly from where Hamas is firing rockets inform the secretary-general that Hamas was violating international law by situating its launchers in heavily populated neighborhoods, sometimes just a few meters from UN facilities, in order to attack Israeli civilians?
We didn’t accept the secretary-general’s explanation that UNRWA is not there to make political statements; after all, during the fighting UNRWA officials repeatedly gave interviews to the international media criticizing Israel’s actions.
We suggested to Mr. Ban that he himself had crossed a line with his rush to judgment in characterizing Israel’s attack on a UN school as “criminal,” when it wasn’t at all clear who was responsible for the attack.
- Why, we wanted to know, does he insist that 75 percent of the Palestinian casualties in Gaza were civilian, when Israel has provided the names and ages of 900 Hamas terrorists killed in the conflict?
- And why does he criticize Israel for “disproportionality” when it is confronted with Hamas’s strategy of weaving its military and terror infrastructure in heavily populated civilian areas with many mosques and hospitals?
We pointed out that if these new “rules” had been in place at the end of World War II, Winston Churchill and the president of the United States would have been the leaders put on trial at Nuremberg.
- The secretary-general was also asked how it was that UNICEF, an organization devoted to protecting children – and one heavily supported by Jewish philanthropy for 50 years – condemned Israel for targeting children when in fact the opposite was true.
- We raised the issue with Mr. Ban of the toxic attacks on Jews in Europe, Australia, and the Americas and urged him to take all necessary measures to ensure that the next UN General Assembly, which meets during the High Holy Days, doesn’t turn into another hate-fest against Jews.
- Finally, we told the secretary-general that if the rights of democratic countries to respond to naked aggression against their citizens are further curtailed, the only winners of future wars will be the terrorists.
Overall, the Jewish leaders were quite disappointed with many of the points the secretary-general offered in response.Rabbis Marvin Hier and Abraham Cooper
About the Author: Rabbi Marvin Hier is dean and founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center; Rabbi Abraham Cooper is the Center’s associate dean.
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