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September 2, 2014 / 7 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘UN Human Rights Council’

Frenkel’s Mother to Implore UN HRC: Please Help Find Our Boys

Monday, June 23rd, 2014

Rachel Frenkel  will address the United Nations Human Rights Council tomorrow, June 24.

Frenkel is the mother of 16 year old Israeli-American Naftali Frenkel, one of the three Israeli teenagers kidnapped on June 12.

UN Watch, a human rights non-governmental organization, invited Frenkel to come to Geneva from Israel, and to use the NGO’s allotted slot to address the HRC. She will use her time to implore the global human rights body and the entire “international community do everything it can to help find the boys and bring them home safely,” according to a statement released by UN Watch.

Frenkel will address the HRC at 11:00 a.m. tomorrow, which is 5:00 a.m. in New York, and 12:00 noon in Israel.

Hillel Neuer is the executive director of UN Watch.

“UN Watch condemns the kidnapping of the three boys, which the ICRC [International Committee of the Red Cross] rightly described as a war crime, and calls for their immediate, unconditional and safe return,” Neuer said.

“This heinous act violates international humanitarian law, which prohibits targeting civilians and the taking of hostages. We are in awe of Mrs. Frenkel’s strength of spirit, and are grateful for the opportunity to offer her an international platform to appeal for the safe release of her son and the other two boys. We hope the international community will collectively heed her call,” he continued.

Frenkel will also be meeting with senior international officials while she is in Geneva, in an effort to enlist their assistance. UN Watch is helping to facilitate those meetings.

Naftali Frenkel, along with Gilad Shaar and Eyal Nifrach, are believed to have been kidnapped by Hamas terrorists. They were abducted Thursday evening, June 12. One of the boys was able to leave a brief telephone message with a police hotline, explaining that they had been kidnapped. The Israel Defense Force and other security organizations have been searching ceaselessly to recover the boys.

Lesser of Two Evils May Replace Falk on Anti-Israel UN Council

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) will be deciding at its annual spring session in Geneva this month on a replacement for Richard Falk, the body’s special rapporteur on Palestinian human rights who has a history of anti-Israel bias.

U.N. watchdog groups, the United States, and Israel are closely monitoring the selection process.

The applicant list has recently been reduced by the vetting committee from 10 to three, with the candidates perceived as being the most biased against Israel now out of the running, according to UN Watch. The council president, currently Baudelaire Ndong Ella of the Gabonese Republic, will select one of the candidates to be put for a vote in front of the entire council later this month.

Hillel Neuer, executive director of Geneva-based UN Watch, told JNS.org that usually, the president follows the vetting committee’s recommendation and picks the leading candidate, although he has no obligation to do so. The president may even choose a candidate already eliminated in the vetting process.

Appointed by the council to a six-year non-renewable term in 2008, Falk, a professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University who endorsed boycotts against the Jewish state, has been a perennial thorn in the side of Israel supporters, current U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice, and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Before becoming the special rapporteur, Falk was a member of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Inquiry Commission for the Palestinian territories.

The three remaining candidates for the job include Christina Cerna, adjunct professor at Georgetown Law School; John Cerone, professor at Boston’s New England Law School; and Christine Chinkin, professor of international law at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Of the three, both UN Watch and the Israel-based NGO Monitor regard Chinkin’s record as the most biased against Israel.

“Chinkin was in our ‘rogues’ gallery,” said Neuer, referring to a list his organization compiled to expose anti-Israel sentiments among the original group of candidates. “She co-wrote the Goldstone Report, so she has a record of being enormously biased, someone who’s so biased that she doesn’t even know when she has disqualified herself for a fact finding mission.”

Neuer was referring to Chinkin’s participation in the U.N. Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict in 2009, also known as the Goldstone Report for its chairman, South African jurist Richard Goldstone. She also signed a January 2009 letter in the British Sunday Times newspaper that condemned Israel for war crimes and declared it to be the aggressor in its conflict with the Palestinians.

“It was ridiculous that she continued to serve on the Goldstone commission [without recusing herself],” argued Neuer in referencing the letter.

“Goldstone had the courage and the moral backbone to renounce his own report and Chinkin was one of the main people who denounced Goldstone for that process,” added Gerald Steinberg, founder and president of NGO Monitor and a political science professor at Tel Aviv’s Bar Ilan University. “Goldstone acknowledged that they didn’t have the information, the evidence they presented was not convincing regarding Israel and Chinkin denounced him for that.”

The top two candidates currently do not rank on UN Watch’s “rogues list” nor do they have dossiers at NGO Monitor. But David Michaels, B’nai B’rith International’s director of intercommunal affairs, argued that on a certain level, it didn’t matter who occupies Falk’s position.

“The post itself, by its nature, is explicitly discriminatory against Israel. It’s meant to focus only on alleged violations of Palestinian rights with no consideration at all of violation of Israeli rights or of Palestinian misdeeds,” explained Michaels. “Whereas all other 192 member states of the U.N., including Iran, North Korea, Syria, China [and] Russia are all addressed under one item… Israel has its own permanent agenda item.”

Michaels said that there are NGOs and Human Rights Council members worried about the credibility that is lost within the organization when it appears as systemically against Israel as it currently does.

“It’s an offense against the only democracy in the Middle East, the only Jewish state, but also it just shows in a very stark way that the [U.N.] bodies neglect the most severe and heinous areas of human rights violations in the world,” he said.

At his position, Falk has made public statements against Israel and the United States, positions that Steinberg feels borders on anti-Semitism.

“I’ve been in meetings with him and he uses the ‘I’m Jewish, therefore I can’t be accused of being anti-Israel or anti-Semitic’” defense, said Steinberg, adding, “He uses that defense a lot and my challenge to him was, ‘In what other way are you Jewish other than in this hostility towards Israel and your Jewish connections?’”

Without taking a position on who should succeed Falk, the U.S. State Department seemed to welcome the end of the special rapporteur’s tenure.

“As we have stated before, we oppose his deeply flawed and one-sided mandate, as well as Agenda Item 7 under which it was created, the only HRC agenda item to focus on one specific country,” a State Department official told JNS.org. “Falk has repeatedly made biased and deeply offensive comments, including his most recent outrageous comments [accusing Israel of genocide] in an interview with Russia Today. His reports and rhetoric have done nothing to advance a peaceful settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

The UNHRC regular session in Geneva is expected to handle most of the Israel-related issues on its agenda on March 21. Despite advocacy from organizations like B’nai B’rith, UN Watch, and NGO Monitor, among others, few expect the UNHRC and its anti-Israel majority to take the Palestinian issue off its permanent agenda anytime soon.

Dmitriy Shapiro wrote this article for JNS.org.

Israel Caves on its UN Human Rights Council Boycott

Tuesday, October 29th, 2013

It took less than a year and a half, but Israel has backed down from its position of refusing to submit its neck for the certain sharpened knife to fall: the Jewish State announced through its prime minister that it will appear before the United Nations Human Rights Council and will allow that much- and justly-maligned body pronounce on its human rights record as part of the Universal Periodic Review for all member nations.

The UPR was created by the same UN General Assembly resolution in March, 2006, which created the Human Rights Council. Through the UPR, each member state declares what actions they have taken to improve the human rights situations in their own countries, and how they fulfil their human rights obligations. Of course, as far as the UN HRC and most of its member states is concerned, the process is designed to “ensure equal treatment for every country when their human rights situations are assessed.”

Except, of course, when it comes to Israel.

In March, 2012, Israel withdrew its participation from the UN Human Rights Council’s periodic review of human rights records of member states because it had habitually been singled out for unfair and utterly unbalanced review of its behavior, while its enemies have been treated with kid gloves despite years of relentless state-sponsored and state-supported terrorism against the Jewish State.

But after repeated public and relentless behind the scenes pressure, the boycott has ended.

That pressure included haranguing, vengeful floor statements at a meeting of the HRC on June 7, 2013, by representatives of many members states, including that of the United States, that Israel must cooperate with the Universal Periodic Review mechanism. There have also been reports of extra-body communications, such as a strongly worded communique directly from Germany warning of a dire diplomatic backlash unless Israel return to the fold.

And so, Israel indeed folded.

The statements by members at that June 7 meeting were remarkable given the human rights violators who had the temerity to insist that Israel bow its head before the HRC.

First, in an official statement, “Palestine” said it appreciated the efforts of the president of the HRC to “protect the Universal Periodic Review mechanism and the integrity of the Human Rights Council in the face of the unprecedented non-cooperation and non-compliance of Israel.” Palestine urged Israel to cooperate with the Human Rights Council and said that an exchange of letters was not sufficient to count as engagement. Palestine said it regarded the Universal Periodic Review deadline set by the President as final and binding.

And that universal supporter of human rights and all things good and fair, Cuba, condemned Israel for boycotting the Universal Periodic Review, and said that “the attitude of Israel was deplorable and unacceptable.”

Tunisia, as was the case with most of the Arab and Muslim groups, could not even bring itself to mention the name of the Jewish State, and instead merely “regretted the continuing attitude of the country under review,” referring to that state as engaging in “persistent non-cooperation.”  As far as Tunisia was concerned, the HRC should no longer even negotiate with the recalcitrant state.

Speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, Algeria claimed that its group was committed to the Universal Periodic Review’s “transparency, objectivity, equal treatment and non-selectivity.” The Arab Group also stated that the (unnamed) non-cooperating entity’s behavior was unacceptable, and stressed the importance of protecting the credibility of the HRC.

Pakistan, representing the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, charged Israel’s “persistent non-compliance” as a “serious breach of United Nations system expectations” and it too suggested that the UPR should go ahead as planned whether or not Israel chose to be present.

Israel’s announcement that it would participate in its review at the seventeenth session of the Working Group of the Universal Periodic Review, came less than 48 hours before that process is to begin, on Tuesday, October 29, in Geneva.

Israel is still prevented from joining the Human Rights Council because it is denied a place in any regional group of nations, and the geographic groups are the entities from which HRC members are selected.  Given its location, Israel should be a part of the Asian Nations Group, as are its neighboring states. But Israel is barred from belonging to that group because the Arab nations within that bloc oppose Israel’s membership.

Report: Germany Tells Israel to Cooperate with UN Rights Panel

Sunday, October 27th, 2013

Germany reportedly has told Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu that Israel faces “serious consequences” if it does not restore its former relationship with the U.N. Human Rights Council. Avigdor Lieberman, who was Foreign Minister last year, cut Israel’s ties with the panel after it announced it was going to investigate the Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria and areas of Jerusalem claimed by the Palestinian Authority.

The Haaretz newspaper, whose reports sometimes are not exact, reported that German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle sent the warning in a letter on Friday.

It allegedly noted that the Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review requires all members of the United Nations to participate. He warned that Israel’s lack of cooperation would make it diplomatically isolated.

Israel has made moves in the past several weeks to resume ties with the Council but, according to Haaretz, has demanded that the Council stop automatically making human rights in Israel an issue for discussion at every meeting.

Palestinian Authority Thinks ‘Terrorism’ Is a Race or Religion

Friday, August 2nd, 2013

The Palestinian Authority, which earlier this week labeled Jewish Home chairman Naftali Bennett as a terrorist, now wants him probed for racism.

Bennett, speaking about the government’s agreeing to free more than 1,000 terrorists in order to get the so-called peace process back on track, dared to comment, “Terrorists should be eliminated, not freed.” He added that as an IDF elite combat officer, he killed lots of Arabs and has “no problem with that.”

The Palestinian Authority has a big problem with that.

“It is extremely alarming that a public Israeli official at the ministerial level calls for murder and utters explicitly racist remarks without being held accountable.”

Racism?

Did Bennett say anything about Muslims? Or blacks? Or Hindus? Of even, God forbid, journalists?

It turns out that the Palestinian Authority now considers terrorism an ethnic species or a religion.

Earlier this week, the Palestinian Authority foreign affairs ministry defined a terrorist as anyone who degrades “strugglers for freedom. It added that settlers also are terrorists by the very fact that they are living on land, where PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas said this week, he will hang out the “No Jews Allowed” sign if and when he gets his hands on a new Arab state within Israel’s current borders.

Abbas no doubt would say he is not a racist but simply wants to protect Jews from Arab terrorists – no, make that “strugglers for freedom.” The real racist is Bennett, according to the foreign ministry.

“The Israeli government has to open a transparent and legal investigation into these remarks [by Bennett] and allow Palestinian rights advocates to follow the investigation,” it stated, according to the Bethlehem-based Ma’an News Agency.

It reported that the “General Delegation of the PLO to the United States strongly condemned the ‘racist’ remarks and called for international action.”

This is fresh fodder for the U.N. Human Rights Council, which now can designate terrorists as an ethnic minority, actually a majority in some Arab countries . Muslim terrorism actually has all of the characteristics of a religion. Their mitzvah is to kill Jews, and their belief in the afterworld is firmly based on being welcomed there by 72 virgins. As for female terrorists, perhaps they also remain virgins.

Survivor of North Korean Jail Warns of ‘Holocaust-Era Inaction’

Friday, June 21st, 2013

When guards dragged Shin Dong-hyuk from his North Korean cell in 1995, he was pretty sure the end was near.

Dong-hyuk, then just 13, was born in the prison known as Camp 14, not far from Pyongyang. Camp 14 is part of a network of political prisons believed to be the largest in the world, where an estimated 150,000 dissidents and their families live in conditions reminiscent of Holocaust-era concentration camps.

As he was brought to the camp’s execution field, Dong-hyuk realized he wasn’t the one due to be killed that day — it was his mother and brother. The boy calmly watched the executions, he says now, having been brainwashed into believing his family members deserved to die. After all, he was the one who had turned them in.

“They hanged her and shot him for planning to escape,” Dong-hyuk, now 31, told JTA in Brussels. “I was only brought to watch.”

In 2005, Dong-hyuk (pronounced dong-YUKE) became the only known survivor of Camp 14. In the years since, he has traveled the world raising the alarm about North Korea’s treatment of political dissidents, including five visits to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington and a meeting with survivors in 2009 at the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles. He plans to visit Yad VaShem in Jerusalem later this year.

To date, the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva has convened 19 special sessions, none on North Korea. Israel has been the subject of six — more than the Syrian civil war, in which 90,000 people are believed to have died, or the genocide in Darfur, which has claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands, according to some estimates.

Dong-hyuk’s father and grandfather were incarcerated because two of the grandfather’s brothers had defected, Dong-hyuk said in a recent interview on “60 Minutes.”

His accounts of his treatment at the hands of sadistic guards, and the arbitrary torture to which he was subjected, are reminiscent of Holocaust stories, but Dong-hyuk is careful to avoid such comparisons, saying the only thing Nazi camps have in common with those in North Korean is “that they never should have existed.”

Yet he feels a certain kinship with survivors of the Nazis. “Through the horrific stories of Holocaust survivors, I could see my own life in the prison camps,” Dong-hyuk said. “

Yoon Yeo-sang of the Seoul-based Database Center for North Korean Human Rights likenins global inaction on North Korean camps to the world’s indifference to the Nazi genocide in Europe.

“What goes on in North Korea is maybe worse than the Holocaust, where the Nazis were active for 12 years,” Yeo-sang said. “The enslavement of the camps in North Korea has been going on for decades.”

Dong-hyuk lost a piece of his index finger as punishment for breaking a machine at a military factory where he and his family were forced to work. Another time he was given a choice between hunger and a beating. He chose the beating.

“We were constantly hungry,” he said. “Some ate rats and insects to survive. I was hungry for 23 years.”

The North Korean government has long denied the existence of political prisons, and in the absence of other escapees, there is no way to corroborate details of Dong-hyuk’s story. But Yeo-sang says that Dong-hyuk’s testimony is consistent with accounts by survivors from different areas.

Dong-hyuk said the trigger for his escape was meeting an inmate named Park, who had been on the other side of the electric fence and told stories of people eating pork and chickens. In the course of their escape attempt, Park was electrocuted and died on the fence. Dong-hyuk says he crawled over his friend’s body to escape.

From the camp, Dong-hyuk walked to China, bribing locals to avoid detection. He now lives in South Korea, where he runs an organization, Inside NK, that tries to publicize the cause of North Korean prisoners and document the testimony of survivors.

“Too much attention goes to [the North Korean leader] Kim Jong-un and his wife and too little attention to ending the camp reality,” Dong-hyuk said.

But there is also a personal reason for his devotion to the cause: Dong-hyuk says he feels guilty for betraying his mother and brother as a boy and hopes that admitting to his actions and raising awareness for other prisoners will serve as a small act of penance.

US Says Falk ‘Unfit to Serve,’ Chucks his Bid to Expel UN Watch

Monday, June 10th, 2013

In a scathing and unprecedented attack on a UN-accredited NGO, top UN Human Rights Council official Richard Falk publicly called on the 47-nation body to investigate and potentially expel the watchdog organization UN Watch, after it mobilized world leaders—including his own boss, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon—to condemn his comments blaming the Boston Marathon bombings on “the American global domination project” and “Tel Aviv.”

In his just-released annual report, Falk—the controversial human rights monitor tasked by the Council with investigating “Israel’s violations of the principles and bases of international law” in the Palestinian territories—accuses UN Watch, a Geneva-based human rights group that fights antisemitism and anti-Israel bias, with “demeaning” and “defaming” his character, damaging the “credibility,” “effectiveness,” and “substantive intention” of his mandate, all of which “diverts attention from the message” and “shifts public interest away.”

UN Watch was established in 1993 “to monitor the performance of the United Nations by the yardstick of its own Charter,” according to the group’s website.

“Sunlight is the best disinfectant, wrote Justice Brandeis, and that’s why Falk wants to shut us down—so his despicable abuses can proliferate in the dark,” said UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer.

In Falk’s report, as well as in intense lobbying efforts that he conducted this week as reported by UN insiders, the Council official demands that UN Watch “be investigated” to determine whether it qualifies as a genuine NGO.

“We call on UN Secretary Ban Ki-moon to denounce Richard Falk’s McCarthy-style attempt to have rogue regimes conduct a retaliatory ‘investigation’ of UN Watch, as a punishment for successfully exposing his gross misconduct,” said Neuer.

“Falk is dangerously trying to intimidate and silence the UN’s only watchdog group, to grant himself impunity while he continues to exculpate terrorist groups and make other inflammatory remarks that contradict the UN’s founding principles,” Neuer. added

Falk’s comments come less than a month after UN Watch’s draft resolution to remove him from his position in the wake of his comments blaming the Boston Marathon bombings on “the American global domination project” and “Tel Aviv” was published by the United Nations as an official document.

In his annual report, Falk slams what he calls Israel’s continued occupation of the Palestinians:

“Israel continues to annex Palestinian territory; Israel persists in demolishing Palestinians’ homes and populating Palestine with Israeli citizens; Israel maintains a policy of collectively punishing 1.75 million Palestinians through its imposition of a blockade on the Gaza Strip; and Israel prosecutes its occupation with impunity, refusing to accept the world’s calls to respect international law,” he wrote.

Falk also repeats his prior call for a boycott of companies conducting business with Israel or Israelis in Judea and Samaria.

The U.S. representative to the Human Rights Council, Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe, on Friday condemned Falk’s report and called on other member states of the council to “denounce Falk and his outrageous abuse of the position he holds.”

Abraham Foxman, the national director of the Anti-Defamation League, said his organization agrees with Donahoe’s conclusion that Falk “is unfit to serve in his role as a UN special rapporteur.”

“If he does not leave voluntarily, the Human Rights Council should remove him, Foxman said, adding: “Mr. Falk’s attempt to paint himself as the victim of an Israeli government-sponsored defamation campaign, carried out by UN Watch, has echoes of classical anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.”

“We are in good company, however, given that Falk’s report also accuses Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon of being ‘complicit’ with UN Watch for having condemned his ‘preposterous’ comments, in 2011 and again last month.” Neuer said.

Falk wrote that “it seems important to encourage a greater willingness on the part of senior United Nations officials to defend special rapporteurs subject to such diversionary attacks.”

Falk’s report claims that UN Watch’s “smear campaign” is carried out in “numerous settings, including at the Human Rights Council, as well as university venues where the Special Rapporteur gives lectures.”

The “smears” have been “sent to diplomats and United Nations officials, including the Secretary-General, who has apparently accepted the allegations at face value, issuing public criticism of the Special Rapporteur… with no effort to seek the views of the Special Rapporteur.”

In his report, Falk’s ninth and final recommendation is for the Human Rights Council to “establish a mechanism to support Special Rapporteurs who are subject to defamatory attacks, especially those that divert attention from the substantive human rights concerns relevant to their respective mandates.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/us-says-falk-unfit-to-serve-chucks-his-bid-to-expel-un-watch/2013/06/10/

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