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December 18, 2014 / 26 Kislev, 5775
 
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Posts Tagged ‘human rights’

The Next UN-Israel Showdown

Monday, January 21st, 2013

Another major confrontation is brewing between Israel and the United Nations. On January 29, Israel is scheduled for its quadrennial Universal Periodic Review (UPR) at the Human Rights Council (HRC). Following the March 2012 Council session, however, Israel’s foreign minister ceased all contacts with the HRC due to its obsessive bias and double standards targeting the Jewish state. As a result, Israel will not participate in UPR.

This has U.N. officials very worried and for good reason. If Israel fails to show up for UPR, this may force the HRC to end the stranglehold of abusive regimes over the institution and implement long overdue reforms.

UPR was instituted as the focal point of the newly-created HRC in 2006, which was established as a correction to its predecessor, the Commission on Human Rights. The Commission was disbanded after being hijacked by dictatorships and the Organization of the Islamic Conference. The huge embarrassment was compounded by a singular focus on Israel. According to U.N. Watch, approximately half of all country-specific resolutions condemned the Jewish state.

The Commission’s standing agenda included the notorious “Item 7,” meaning that Israel was the only country singled out at every session. Inevitably, this resulted in incessant discussion of alleged Israeli violations against Palestinians. By 2005, the situation had deteriorated to the point that U.N. Secretary General Kofi Anan remarked, “the Commission’s ability to perform its tasks has been . . . undermined by the politicization of its sessions and the selectivity of its work.”

UPR was created to ostensibly remedy the pervasive one-sidedness by implementing a peer review of the human rights records of every U.N. member state once every four years. It was heavily promoted by officials from non-governmental organizations (NGOs), Europe, and the U.N. as the linchpin of the HRC and proof of its “reformed” and universally-concerned character, despite the perpetuation of Agenda Item 7 on Israel. Human Rights Watch (HRW) in particular lobbied extensively for UPR.

In spite of the promises, the new HRC differed little from the Commission. Dictatorships and Islamic regimes continued to dominate the council and its leadership. Resolutions against Israel outnumbered those issued against any other country by orders of magnitude, and 5 of the first 9 special sessions targeted Israel. Prompted by the Arab League and the OIC, coupled with intensive campaigning by HRW, Amnesty International, the International Commission of Jurists, and other NGOs, there have been at least four separate “fact-finding” missions aimed at Israel, most notably the Goldstone Mission. Follow-up committees, reports for Goldstone (ignoring the repudiation of the report by Judge Goldstone himself), and the other inquiries continue to be placed on the agenda at every HRC session – wasting precious time and resources.

And although every country participated in the first round of the UPR process, which concluded in 2011, the meetings usually consisted of dictators patting each other on the back for their stellar human rights records. Bashing Israel and Canada stood in for “constructive dialogue.”

Based on this sorry history, the March 2012 HRC session was the last straw for Israel. While thousands were being butchered by the Assad regime in Syria, the HRC outrageously passed a resolution condemning Israel for the “suffering of Syrian citizens in the occupied Syrian Golan.” Due to intense lobbying by several European-government funded NGOs, including Al Haq and Badil, seeking to lay the groundwork for a new campaign against Israelis at the International Criminal Court, the HRC also initiated another fact-finding mission against Israel. This time, Israel decided to disengage entirely from the farce.

Once HRC officials realized that Israel’s decision would also affect UPR, they panicked. UPR can only work if there is 100% state participation. Without UPR, the façade of a reformed HRC is now in jeopardy. On November 28, 2012, the HRC President sent a desperate letter to Israel trying to guilt it into participation by ironically promoting the “universality” of the process. When Israel didn’t bite, the HRC met this week and openly chastised Israel for refusing to participate in the discredited framework.

In concert with the U.N., NGOs predictably began issuing condemnations. The NGO WILPF, in Orwellian fashion, lamented that, “Letting the non-cooperation of a state produce a double standard in the UPR process and setting such a precedent would undermine its object and purpose,” while ignoring the decades of double standards aimed at Israel. No doubt, similarly self-righteous statements will soon appear from HRW and others.

Mullahs Capitulate, Human Rights Lawyer Ends 49-Day Hunger Strike

Monday, December 10th, 2012

Nasrin Soutoudeh, a human rights lawyer in theocratic Iran, announced on December 4th that she would end a hunger strike she had carried out for 49 days from her cell in Tehran’s infamous Evin Prison. Her offenses had been to act as a court defender of opposition political figures and activists, as well as for juveniles condemned to death for crimes committed when they were under age 18.

Soutoudeh, now nearly fifty, was sentenced last year to 11 years’ imprisonment, and barred from work in the field of law. On appeal, her term was reduced to six years. During her sustained act of defiance, Nasrin Soutoudeh consumed only water mixed with sugar and salts. Her weight fell to 95 pounds; her health became fragile.

She concluded her starvation protest after the Iranian dictatorship acceded to her main demand: that a travel ban be lifted from her 12-year old daughter Mehraveh. Soutoudeh also initiated the fast to dramatize the bad conditions under which she is held. Her husband, Reza Khandan, remains restricted in his movements by order of the regime.

In a statement from Norway, the International Organization to Preserve Human Rights in Iran (IOPHR) pointed out that official Iranian media has accused local spiritual Sufis of supporting Soutoudeh as part of an alleged foreign conspiracy to subvert the Tehran authorities. IOPHR warns that on this basis, Sufis are vulnerable to false trials and imprisonment. According to Sufis and human rights monitors, the repressive Iranian institutions consider “having ‘compassion’ for a Muslim woman in prison to be ‘acting against national security,’ ‘disturbing public order” and ‘insulting the Supreme Leader,’” a post currently held by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

IOPHR identifies the persecution of Nasrin Soutoudeh and the Sufis with a sinister “think tank,” the “Islamic Center for the Study of Religions and their Different Interpretations” located in Qom, the headquarters of theological radicalism in Iran. As one of several such institutions with similar titles and the same goal – penetration of Western academic circles and dissemination of Iranian state ideology, this “Center,” through one of its Persian-language publications, Markaz Didban (Center Watch), has attacked Soutoudeh.

According to IOPHR, Ayatollah Muhammad Reza Mahdavi Kani, chairman of the Assembly of Experts, admitted that “the supporting pole of the regime’s tent is bent.” By this, Kani is said to recognize that conflicts between the personal, doctrinal, and political factions within the Islamist government have undermined its credibility. Entities such as the “Islamic Center for the Study of Religions and their Different Interpretations” harm Iranian stability more than any actions by dissidents by sowing intrigues and fear at all levels of society.

Meanwhile, IOPHR states, Ali Larijani, Khamenei’s “national security expert,” and promoter to the world of the Iranian nuclear program, travels daily to Damascus and Beirut to “maintain the status quo” embodied in the bloodthirsty Syrian dictatorship of Bashar Al-Assad and the Lebanese government dominated by the terror group, Hezbollah.

IOPHR has appealed for aid and cooperation from other international institutions; it seems to wish to use the great potential of public opinion outside Iran as a platform for a major global effort to expose conditions in the Iranian prisons. IOPHR describes Tehran’s penal establishments as torture houses and dungeons run by stubborn and self-interested bureaucrats answerable to nobody – not even to the higher strata of clerical power.

The human rights activists and Sufis have praised the example provided by Nasrin Soutoudeh in her deliberate refusal of food. The call of the Iranian dissenters should not go unanswered. Demonstrations and conferences are overdue in Western and other foreign capitals, especially in Europe, the United States, and Canada. The Iranian usurpers should learn that while their internal contradictions and quarrels threaten to bring their tent down on their heads, the world is watching. Inevitably, the doors of Evin Prison and Tehran’s other houses of cruelty and degradation must be opened.

Originally published by the Gatestone Institute.

Hamas Detaining Foreign Citizens in the Gaza Strip

Sunday, November 18th, 2012

The Israeli Foreign Ministry reports that Hamas is not allowing at least 22 foreign nationals who wish to exit the Gaza Strip for Israel to do so. Among the foreigners being detained are nine Italian citizens, one Canadian, one South Korean, a French national and six journalists from Japan. In addition, two Turkish Red Crescent members have been refused exit.

This violation of the human rights of neutral foreigners is yet another example of Hamas’ attempts to manipulate and pressure the press.

For its part, Israel is keeping the Erez crossing into Gaza open, allowing passage to the foreign press, diplomats and humanitarian workers.

The Kerem Shalom crossing into Gaza was also kept open today, enabling the passage of food and medication from Israel into the Gaza Strip.

Hamas Won’t Let Foreign Nationals Exit Gaza

Saturday, November 17th, 2012

The Israeli Foreign Ministry Reports:

Hamas is not allowing at least 22 foreign nationals who wish to exit the Gaza Strip for Israel to do so. Among the members of the foreign press being detained are nine Italian citizens, six citizens of Japan, one Canadian, one South Korean and a French national. In addition, two Turkish Red Crescent members have been refused exit.

This violation of the human rights of neutral foreigners is yet another example of Hamas’ attempts to manipulate and pressure the press.

For its part, Israel is keeping the Erez crossing into Gaza open, allowing passage to the foreign press, diplomats and humanitarian workers.

UC Irvine Students Vote for ‘Israel Divestment’ But Have No Investments to Divest

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

Late last night, November 13, there was a unanimous vote at a California school for divestment from certain companies that do business with Israel.  Unanimous, 16 -0.

There are, however, several points militating against an uptick in alarm.

For one thing, the school at which this took place was the University of California at Irvine.  Yes, the school that allowed students to repeatedly disrupt Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren, in 2010.  Eleven of those hooligans were charged and convicted of conspiracy and disrupting a public meeting.  Those convictions were obtained despite the efforts of many UCIrvine faculty members, including a large number of  Jewish Studies department faculty.

But more importantly, the vote was taken by the UC Irvine Student Government, which, in all likelihood, does not have any investments in the targeted companies, or any other companies, for that matter.

The student government also called on the UC Irvine administration to divest from the named companies, but a student group’s call on its university to take the students’ investment advice is not exactly like money in (or, in this case, out of) the bank.

While the vote was really the equivalent of a small group of children shouting at those acting in loco parentis to take its investment advice, last night’s effort by anti-Israel student leadership at UCI is noteworthy for a small shift in tactic.

Although the Resolution repeatedly compared Israeli activity to Apartheid South Africa, the student government Resolution only sought divestment from those companies it deemed to provide support for the Security Fence, the demolition of “Palestinian” homes, and the building or maintenance of  the “illegal Israeli settlements” on “occupied Palestinian territory.”  In the past, calls for divestment from Israel typically called for divestment from any company doing business in Israel, which was the South Africa Apartheid divestment model.

The nitty gritty details, that is, that it was a student group that voted to divest its own (non-existent) financial holdings from certain companies – and was not the vote by a university to divest its holdings from companies doing business in Israel – was completely lost on most other media reporting on the vote.  Professional Israel haters such as Ali Abunimeh and Noam Chomsky were quick to add their support, as were Muslim Student Associations and other anti-Israel groups across the country.  To see the misguided glee, check on twitter #IrvineDivest.

The Resolution, which was introduced by Sabreen Shalabi, and seconded by Shadi Jafari, follows:

 

Item Number: 16 Legislation Number (B: Bill, R: Resolution): R48-15
Synopsis: Divestment from Companies that Profit from Apartheid
Date of Presentation: November 13, 2012
 Divestment from Companies that Profit from ApartheidWHEREAS, it is UC Irvine’s duty to maintain the values of “respect, intellectual curiosity, integrity, commitment, and empathy” which includes the promotion of human rights, equality, and dignity for all people without distinction;WHEREAS, it is the mission of the UCI Foundation to “ensure the appropriate use of all funds” in order to uphold the values of respect, intellectual curiosity, integrity, commitment appreciation, and empathy;WHEREAS, students have a legacy of standing against oppression and injustice at UC Irvine and across the U.S.;WHEREAS, the role of student activists in exposing South Africa’s apartheid system and  supporting equality, freedom, and dignity sets an example for us to follow as students of global conscience;WHEREAS, as the example of South Africa shows, it is imperative for students to stand unequivocally against all forms of racism and bigotry globally and on campus, including but not limited to Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, homophobia, patriarchy, and Israel’s system of apartheid;WHEREAS, the occupied Palestinian Territory is controlled militarily by the Israeli government;WHEREAS, certain companies have promoted and been complicit in these ongoing human rights violations systematically committed by the Israeli government, which have been documented by human rights organizations including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Al-Haq, Defense for Children International, Addameer, B’tselem, Adalah, Badil, and the Israeli Coalition Against Home Demolitions;WHEREAS, according to the International Court of Justice (ICJ), “the construction by Israel of a wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and its associated régime are contrary to international law”;WHEREAS, according to the same ICJ decision, the establishment and expansion of settlements in the West Bank and Eastern Jerusalem is also illegal by international law;

UN Official Calling to Boycott Firms Doing Business with Israel Chided for Openly Anti-Semitic Views

Friday, October 26th, 2012

U.N. Special Rapporteur Richard Falk called on the member nations of the General Assembly to boycott companies that do business with Israel.

“Rapporteur” is a French-derived word for an investigator who reports to a deliberative body. The Special Rapporteur is a title given to individuals working on behalf of the United Nations within the scope of “Special Procedures” mechanisms, with a specific mandate from the United Nations Human Rights Council—either a country mandate or a thematic mandate.

Richard Anderson Falk, 82, is an American professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University and a renowned the author.

“My main recommendation is that the businesses highlighted in the report – as well as the many other businesses that are profiting from the Israeli settlement enterprise – should be boycotted until they bring their operations into line with international human rights and humanitarian law and standards,” Falk said in a statement Thursday after he presented his “Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories since 1967″ to the U.N. General Assembly.

The report highlighted the activities of companies he said are involved in the establishment and maintenance of the Israeli settlements. He cited Caterpillar Inc., Hewlett Packard and Motorola in the United States; Ahava, Elbit Systems and Mehadrin of Israel; and the Volvo Group and Assa Abloy of Sweden, along with Veolia Environment of France, G4S of the United Kingdom, the Dexia Group of Belgium, the Riwal Holding Group of the Netherlands and Cemex of Mexico.

Earlier this week, the British government protested to the U.N. the “anti-Semitic” remarks made by Falk, and urged the U.S., France, Germany and other democracies to do the same. It turned out that Richard Falk had collectively accused “the organized Jewish community” of responsibility for war crimes, and provided the cover endorsement of a virulently anti-Semitic book, “The Wandering Who,” which has been condemned as racist by Electronic Intifada founder Ali Abunimah and other Arab activists.

“For the U.N. human rights system to be credible in the fight against racism, its own high representatives must not be allowed to incite hatred and racial discrimination with impunity,” said UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer.

In “The Rise and Fall of Leftist Radicalism in America,” Edward Walter has this to say about Richard Falk:

“In an act of great irony, Princeton legal theirist Richard Falk, whose avowed purpose was to advance the incorporation of human rights into political institutions, supported the rightist Islamic revolution. … Turning to Iran, Falk called the Islamic Revolution an ‘extraordinary unarmed popular uprising against an extreme form of tyranny.’ … Falk asserted that summary trials and summary executions had to be considered in a regional and cultural context where human rights violations were widespread and severe.”

On Wednesday, the Anti-Defamation League called on U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to distance his office from the report, saying its boycott call is one of the hallmarks of the international boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign to pressure companies doing business with Israel.

On the eve of a presentation to the United Nations of a misleading report targeting companies doing business with Israel, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) called on Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to rescind his preliminary endorsement of the report and to distance his office from the report’s biased author, U.N. Special Rapporteur Richard Falk.

ADL lambasted the report, titled “Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories since 1967″ and due to be presented tomorrow to the General Assembly, as “tainted from the start in its message and by its messenger.”

“While the issue of human rights violations experienced by Palestinians is a legitimate area of concern and inquiry, Richard Falk has repeatedly abused his position as special rapporteur to unleash unrestrained hatred and disdain for Israel,” said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. “This malevolence permeates his official reports and, at times, his personal statements, which include the use of anti-Semitic imagery and comparisons of Israeli actions to those of the Nazis.”

As Special Rapporteur, Falk has made it his mission to single out Israel as a human rights violator while using the imprimatur of the U.N. to advance a biased agenda fueled by anti-Israel animus which erodes the credibility of the U.N.

Muslim Countries Seek to Restrict Free Speech Globally

Sunday, October 21st, 2012

Freedom of speech in Europe and North America is increasingly under threat because of a growing confusion among Western leaders over how to define “human rights.” The problem is being compounded by politically correct Western governments, which seek to enforce multicultural compliance with Islamic Sharia law as a way to appease Muslim lobby groups.

These and other political and societal “drifts” were catapulted to center stage by a well-organized and highly articulate group of free-speech activists who attended the Human Dimension Implementation Meetings (HDIM), a major international conference on human rights — this year held in Warsaw, Poland from September 24 to October 5 — and sponsored annually by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).

In recent years, the Human Dimension Implementation Meetings and the OSCE have been the focus of an intense lobbying campaign by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, a bloc of 57 Muslim countries that are aggressively pressuring Western countries to make it an international crime to criticize Islam.

In August 1990, the Muslim member states of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation officially adopted the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam, an alternative document to the 1948 United Nations’ document, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Cairo Declaration states that people have “freedom and right to a dignified life in accordance with Islamic Sharia law.”

The Bürgerbewegung Pax Europa (BPE), in a written submission to the Human Dimensions Implementation Meetings’ Working Session on Fundamental Freedoms, pointed out that today the term “human rights” has two incompatible meanings. In the non-Muslim world, “human rights” refers to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which affirms that all people — men and women — are guaranteed individual rights.

By contrast, in the Muslim world, “human rights” are defined according to the Cairo Declaration, which holds that men and women are not equal and that it is the duty of men and women to follow the will of Allah. Dignity is granted only to those who submit to Allah’s will. The Cairo Declaration divides all human beings into two separate legal persons within its defined categories, namely men and women, believers and non-believers. Any rights or freedoms are binding commandments from Allah as delivered through Mohammed, the Muslim prophet.

The BPE asked the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe to clarify which definition of human rights is being referred to during discussions at the Conference. The statement says:

When BPE discusses the plight of young girls and women with respect to forced marriages, violence, and/or FGM [female genital mutilation], BPE always refers to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, whereas the member states of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation refer exclusively to the Cairo Declaration, which has ramifications on the status of the girl or woman. OSCE participating states that are also member states of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation thus refer to a different set of human rights at the HDIM. It follows that within the Human Dimension of the OSCE there are two diametrically opposed sets of human rights.

The International Civil Liberties Alliance, in a written statement to the Human Dimensions Implementation Meetings’ Working Session on Freedom of Thought, Conscience, Religion or Belief, said:

Since the Organization of Islamic Cooperation created the Declaration of Human Rights in Islam, commonly known as the Cairo Declaration, we have witnessed a distortion of the concepts of human rights and religious freedom. This declaration has created a new and secondary standard in human rights based on Sharia Law, which is entirely incompatible with OSCE’s human rights standards, inspired as they were by the declaration of 1948.

The International Civil Liberties Alliance statement continues:

Sharia law is a system of religious and political regulations destructive of all the principles promoted through the OSCE, i.e. democracy, human rights, freedom of religion and belief, etc. Sharia Law has been defined by the European Court of Human Rights on February 2003, as “incompatible with democratic principles…”

The International Civil Liberties Alliance concludes:

Therefore, OSCE’s commitments and works done by its various departments are devoid of sense if all the partners, state-members, NGOs or other contributors are not using the same definition of Human Rights. A definition is required that clearly rejects any interpretation originating in the Cairo Declaration.

In a report entitled, “The Battle Has Begun,” Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff, a Viennese advocate for free speech, summarized her impressions of the Human Dimension’s 2012 conference:

This is one of the important observations we made: The tide has shifted. The freedom lovers are no longer on the defensive; the opposite is true. The OIC side was isolated; the Counterjihad received many supportive thumbs-up gestures. We made new allies.

She also wrote, however:

Lastly, I was more than surprised to see a member of MPAC [Muslim Public Affairs Council, a Los Angeles-based lobbying group] take the floor on behalf of the U.S. delegation. Since when has MPAC represented the U.S. government? And with diplomatic status! This is wrong and an outrage. We ask our friends in the U.S. House of Representatives to weigh in.

She was referring to Salam al-Marayati, a radical Muslim whom the Obama Administration named as its official representative to the OSCE’s premier conference on human rights. Al-Marayati is the controversial founder of the Muslim Public Affairs Council.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/muslim-countries-seek-to-restrict-free-speech-globally/2012/10/21/

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