International attorney Richard D. Heideman said that massacres in Syria, including the recent use of deadly gas by the government against its own citizens, are a result of the constant and consistent protection from responsibility which the Syrian regime has enjoyed in the international community.
“The Syrian state violence, not just of recent days, but stretching back two years, are the direct result and byproduct of the ongoing impunity enjoyed by the Syrian Arab republic while conducting terrorist activities stretching back decades,” said Heideman, the lead counsel on behalf of American victims of Syrian terrorism, who has received on behalf of his clients the highest judgments awarded by US Federal Courts against the Syrian Arab Republic as a state sponsor of terror. “The world didn’t care when it assisted in the hijacking of planes, when it helped and assisted terrorist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah and acted as a conduit for Iran to smuggle weapons to Lebanon to be used against Israel, and it still doesn’t seem to care when it kills 100,000 of its own people.”
“In the name of dignity, human rights and humanitarian obligations, voices should be raised in all forums to stand up for the rights of the people of Syria. These are war crimes and crimes against humanity and the Syrian regime must be held accountable. There needs to be accountability in international law on behalf of the victims. It cannot be that Syria still remains a candidate for the UN Human Rights Council and continues to enjoy immunity in the international arena.”
Heideman, who was President of B’nai B’rith International, was speaking at the Jerusalem launch of his new book, The Hague Odyssey: Israel’s Struggle for Security on the Front Lines of Terrorism and Her Battle for Justice at the United Nations. The book tells the story of Israel’s relationship with the International court system and the United Nations. In the book, Heideman challenges the current international system and presents a compelling and insightful defense of the absolute right and obligation of the State of Israel, as every other nation, to protect her citizens.
Heideman was lead counsel in the hearings held in the Hague at the time of deliberations on the U.N. sought opinion before the International Court of Justice in 2004. The question before the ICJ dealt with the legality of Israel’s Terrorism Prevention Security Fence then under construction.
“There is an ongoing battle for justice at the United Nations concerning Israel,” Heideman said. “Israel deserves to be treated as any other nation, to have the same rights and obligations as any other state, and not as UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said recently, be subjected to bias and discrimination in the United Nations system.”
“As for the ongoing threat to take Israel to the International Criminal Court and other United Nations institutions if negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians falter, this as well as the threat of a Third Intifada constitute politics of fear that should not be countenanced. These threats are without merit as Israel is fully committed to equality and human rights.”
Special remarks at the event were also given by Dean of the Hebrew University Faculty of Law, Professor Yuval Shany, a member of the UN’s Human Rights Council and an expert on international law. Shany delivered insightful analysis of The Hague Odyssey and its applicability to Israel in international law.
Additional remarks included Alan Schneider, Executive Director B’nai Brith World Center, and Marc Belzberg of the One Family Fund.
The evening was cosponsored by the Hebrew University Faculty of Law, B’nai B’rith World Center, The Israel Forever Foundation and the One Family Fund.