web analytics
April 24, 2014 / 24 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘UNHRC’

On Israel’s President’s Conference

Sunday, June 9th, 2013

 I would, in retaliation, host Saudi Arabia, Iran and Pakistan “Apartheid Weeks.” Stephen Hawking has, apparently, no issues speaking in China and Iran, two countries with appalling human rights records. No one speaks about BDS of Saudi Arabia, where the list of human rights violations is endless. Where were their voices? Or Pakistan, with religious minorities facing persecution and violence against women? No one asked me to cancel my trip to Pakistan.

Recently I received an email from “a Palestinian in Vancouver,” in Canada, asking me to boycott Israel’s annual Presidential Conference, “Facing Tomorrow,” soon in Jerusalem, where I have been invited to speak.

The request for my boycott citied as reasons Israel’s human rights violations and mentioned that as Stephen Hawking boycotted the conference, perhaps I should, as well.

My response to my Palestinian friend is that the first time I was invited to speak at this conference three years ago, I went, hesitantly, not knowing what it was all about. I was so enthused by both my visit to Israel and the conference that I wrote extensively about the experience on my blog, and later named my own Not-for-Profit Organization “Muslims Facing Tomorrow” with an idea that one day, I would host a similar conference about ideas and a vision for a better tomorrow.

Upon my return, I praised the country and the people, but many of my Muslim friends were not interested in knowing these details. They only asked, “Were there any Palestinians at the conference and was the Israel-Palestinian issue discussed?” I was happy to respond that yes, there were Palestinians at the conference; I had even brought home a book on Islam from one of the Palestinian speakers there.

About human rights violations: granted that Israel, like every other country, has violations — but far fewer than those of the countries surrounding it. Israel is still the only liberal democracy in the area where one can find gender equality and freedom for its citizens. During my visits to Israel, I have, in fact, questioned Israeli Arabs and found that they are loath to leave the country where they enjoy freedom and human rights.

As I am accredited to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, where I attend its sessions twice a year, I have a close connection with human rights. At the UNHRC, I hear a lot about humanitarian crises, and these do not include Israel. The OIC (Organization of Islamic Co-operation), for instance, – a group of 57 Arab and Muslim States which has a permanent delegation to the United Nations and is the largest international organization outside the United Nations — continuously slams and blames Israel for everything happening in the Arab and Muslim world and beyond. This incrimination of Israel has become the norm, and can be seen as a ruse to deflect or move focus away from the real problems besetting the Arab world.

BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) against Israel is also not a new movement, but has taken on a life of its own at academic institutions all over North America. This movement has led to “Israel Apartheid Week” events, ugly and nonsensical, at many universities. If I were a student, I would, in retaliation, host Saudi Arabia, Iran and Pakistan “Apartheid Weeks.” But I know that is not the solution to the problems besetting these countries, and the crux of the issue is how freedom of speech can become the fine line between hate mongering and truth.

This incrimination also highlights the double standards held by academics such as Stephen Hawking: he had no issues, apparently, speaking in China and Iran, two countries that have appalling human rights records. But that is his problem.

My problem is that I am from Pakistan, a country where the word human rights has no meaning or recognition whatsoever. According to the Human Rights Watch World Report on Pakistan for 2012, Pakistan had a disastrous year — including increasing attacks on civilians by militant groups, religious minorities facing unprecedented insecurity and persecution, and where freedom of belief and expression are coming under severe threat as the presence of Islamists has grown by leaps and bounds. This does not even begin to address violations against women. The Aurat Foundation, a local women’s rights group in Pakistan, says the number of incidents of violence against women in Pakistan has increased at least seven percent over the past year.

Boycotts ‘Disproportionate’ UNHRC Meeting on Settlements

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

The Obama administration refused on Monday to participate in a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting on Israeli settlements and slammed the body for its “disproportionate” focus on Israel.

The council, based in Geneva, debated on Monday a January special report on the settlements that called for Israel to immediately withdraw from the West Bank and suggested that Israel may be liable for war crimes if it does not.

U.S. delegates would not speak during the debate, according to DPA, the German news agency, and in separate comments Eileen Donahoe, the U.S. ambassador to the body, said that “the United States remains extremely troubled by this council’s continued biased and disproportionate focus on Israel.”

Israel no longer associates with the Human Rights Council, in part because of last year’s so-called fact-finding mission on Israeli settlements that culminated in the report. Israel did not cooperate with the council on the settlements report because of the anticipated built-in anti-Israel bias.

The council repeatedly singles out Israel for criticism and has ignored major human rights abusers, some of which are members of the council.

The Obama administration reversed its predecessor’s policy of not participating in the council, and has noted some progress in getting it to address abuses in countries like Iran.

B’nai B’rith International’s representative at the United Nations in Geneva, Klaus Netter, said in a statement to the council that the report was counterproductive.

“Far from advancing the peace process between the two main parties, the fact-finding mission report has only reinforced Israel’s doubts about returning to active participation in this council and produced yet another source of conflict that may occupy this council’s attention for months or years to come,” he said.

UN: Hamas Violated International Law, Killed BBC Reporter’s Son

Monday, March 11th, 2013

The UN Human Rights Council released an advance version of its report on Operation “Pillar of Defense,” exonerating Israel and the IDF in many cases in which it had been previously alleged that the IDF committed war crimes.

When it relates to Gazan civilians killed by IDF fire during the operation, the UNHRC report concedes that there was a legitimate military target in the area in most of those incidents.

The report’s tone is more cautious than in past instances, in presenting its findings of alleged violations of international law by Israel:

“In some cases, more information would be required to make a more specific assessment. Based on the information available to Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the IDF did not consistently uphold the basic principles of conduct of hostilities, namely, the principles of distinction, proportionality and precautions. Further, the effectiveness, sufficiency and adequacy of precautions taken remains questionable in several cases.”

Surprisingly, the same report offers no such doubts when presenting Hamas’s violations:

“Palestinian armed groups continuously violated international humanitarian law, by launching indiscriminate attacks on Israel and by attacking civilians, thereby disregarding the principle of distinction. The armed groups failed to take all feasible precautions in attacks, in particular by launching rockets from populated areas, which put the population at grave risk. Furthermore, several Palestinians were killed by rockets launched by the armed groups that fell short and landed in the Gaza Strip.”

The report states that Omar Mishrawi, son of BBC reporter Jihad Mishrawi, was killed by a Hamas rocket. The UNHRC report states:

“On 14 November, a woman, her 11-month-old infant, and an 18-year-old adult in Al-Zaitoun were killed by what appeared to be a Palestinian rocket that fell short of Israel. In addition, OHCHR received reports related to an incident in which two civilians, including a child, were killed, and five persons, including three children, were injured, as a result of what appeared to be a Palestinian rocket that fell short and hit a house in Al-Quds Street, near Khilla Gas Station, Jabalya, on 16 November.”

The first incident is the Mishrawi case; the second one concerns Mahmoud Sadallah. The photo of Mishrawi in agony while carrying his dead son, flanked by Hamas leader Ismail Haniyah, became famous during the operation and was instrumental in Hamas’s propaganda against Israel. The photo of Sadallah, a four-year-old boy, was used for a photo-op with Egyptian PM Hesham Kandil and Haniyeh.

The UN itself investigated this case and believes that the attack came from a Hamas rocket, not Israel, contrary to the way the BBC reported it, as well as the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), Human Rights Watch (HRW), the Daily Mail and others. They assume that Israel must be guilty by default.

NGO Monitor, a watchdog group following anti-Israel bias among nonprofits involved in the Middle East conflict, in relating to PCHR and HRW, issued the following statement:

“…These NGO allegations were particularly damaging due to powerful, widely-circulated images of the grieving father of the child, who is a journalist. The NGO and corresponding media accounts worked together to demonize Israel for the death of an innocent child… Rather than applying consistent and professional standards to fact-finding, the claims of HRW and PCHR are often the products of instant speculation and the a-priori presumption of Israeli guilt. Later, when detailed evidence emerges that contradicts their allegations, these NGOs fail to publish apologies and retractions.”

Cut U.S. Funding To The UN

Saturday, July 21st, 2012

In recent weeks the United Nations has gone on the warpath against Israel, defaming the Jewish state and providing aid and comfort to its enemies.

Indeed, in a series of moves, the world body has sent the Jewish state a clear and unmistakable message that its decades-old hostility remains as potent as ever.

First, there was the decision last month by UNESCO – the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization – to establish a chair at the Islamic University of Gaza, which is controlled by Hamas and has become a hotbed of Muslim extremism and terror.

This is the very same university whose laboratories have been used by Hamas to produce explosives and rockets that were later deployed against Israel. And in May, the University’s dean of Koranic studies called for the Islamic conquest of Spain and the Vatican.

It is simply unconscionable that UNESCO, which is ostensibly dedicated to “building peace in the minds of men and women”, would choose to partner with a Hamas-run outfit that inculcates students with anti-Israel and anti-Western values.

Not to be outdone, the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) decided to get into the act last week by turning up the heat on Israel.

At the close of its 20th session in Geneva, the august body appointed a three-member fact-finding team to be dispatched to the Middle East.

But have no fear: the diplomatic trio in question will not be garnering frequent-flyer miles to investigate the Syrian government’s slaughter of its own civilians, nor will it be rushing through airport security to get a first-hand look at the fundamentalist takeover in Egypt.

Instead, despite all the turmoil in the region, the UNHRC is determined to get to the bottom of what it considers to be a far more vexing problem: ongoing Jewish housing construction in Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem.

That’s right. A Jew enclosing a porch in Ariel, or extending a living room in Hebron, apparently poses a more significant threat to the rights of all humanity than rising Islamic fundamentalist extremism or the crushing of dissent.

The move comes following a UNHRC resolution passed back in March which employed all the classic anti-Israel bias and one-sidedness that has become standard fare in the halls of the UN.

Lest anyone had been toying with the naïve thought that the UNHRC might give Israel a fair hearing, the text of the resolution went out of its way to bash the Jewish state and its policies in the harshest of terms.

In its preamble, the decision affirmed that “Israeli settlement activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in East Jerusalem, are illegal under international law and constitute very serious violations of international humanitarian law and of the human rights of the Palestinian people therein.”

It also expressed “grave concern” about “the continuation by Israel, the occupying Power, of settlement building and expansion.”

The UNHRC then defined the mandate of its investigative team, instructing it to explore “the implications of the Israeli settlements on the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of the Palestinian people.”

What do you think the chances are that Israel will get a fair hearing?

Not surprisingly, Israel was quick to reject the proposed UNHRC mission, with Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor saying, “The fact-finding mission will find no cooperation in Israel and its members will not be allowed to enter Israel and the territories.”

“Its existence,” he added, “embodies the inherent distortion that typifies the UNHRC treatment of Israel and the hijacking of the important human rights agenda by non-democratic countries.”

And then, to top it all off, came reports in the Israeli press that the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has been supporting and even building illegal structures for Palestinians in Judea and Samaria.

OCHA has ignored repeated Israeli requests to cease such activities, to the point where the government is now said to be considering imposing sanctions on its employees.

This is nothing less than a deliberate snub of Israel and its sovereignty and violates all norms of diplomatic decency.

Clearly, as the above examples illustrate, the UN remains as antagonistic as ever toward the Jewish state, treating it in ways it would not dare to treat any other country.

‘Even Handed’ UN Mission to Probe How Jews Affect Palestinians

Sunday, July 8th, 2012

The Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) has set up a fact-finding mission to investigate how Israel’s Jewish settlements affect Palestinians.

UNHRC president, Uruguay Ambassador Laura Dupuy Lasserre, on Friday named three women to the panel: Christine Chanet of France, Unity Dow of Botswana and Asma Jahangir of Pakistan. “Each has a long track record of impartial, independent, and objective human rights work of the highest caliber,” she said.

Christine Chanet recently accused Israel of “total discrimination” and complained that “it is very difficult to have a real dialogue” with Israel.

Asma Jahangir’s sister Hina Jilani served on the UN’s controversial Goldstone commission in 2009.

“Allow me to reiterate the council’s request to Israel … not to obstruct the process of investigation and to cooperate fully with the mission,” Lasserre stated.

The human rights group UN Watch expressed concerns over the probe’s lack of balance, noting the mandate’s failure to examine violations by the Palestinian side.

The terms of the inquiry are solely to examine how Israeli residents of settlements and east Jerusalem violate the human rights of Palestinians.

“While there are genuine human rights victims on all sides, this inquiry’s mandate is imbalanced and lacks credibility,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch.

“Its terms were framed in a 4-page resolution, co-sponsored by the Arab and Islamic groups, that omits any reference to Arab terrorism against Israeli civilians, including the hundreds of rockets fired recently from Gaza and Sinai into Israeli towns and villages.

“The only victims it contemplates are Palestinians, the only perpetrator, Israel. In the guise of human rights, Syria and other oppressive regimes sponsored this UN inquiry to deflect attention from their own crimes, to scapegoat Israel and erode its international standing,” Neuer said.

Israel severed contacts with the UN Human Rights Council in March after it announced it would investigate the settlements, saying the UNHRC was “singling out” Israel.

The all-female panel is tasked with carrying out a fact-finding mission “to investigate the implications of the settlements on the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of the Palestinian people in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem,” Lassere said.

Israel’s foreign ministry reacted with anger to the mission, calling it “another blatant expression of the singling out of Israel in the UNHRC and of the uncandid approach that characterizes the Council’s dealing with Israel.”

The ministry said on Friday that the “disproportionate focus” the UNHRC puts on Israel, while ignoring human rights violations elsewhere, “leads to the contempt and degradation of the important cause of universal human rights.”

“In times when President Assad’s regime massacres thousands of its own people, the UNHRC only dedicates it symbolic time … while turning its resources to obsessively focus on Israel,” the foreign ministry said.

The statement pledged that the mission “will find no cooperation in Israel, and its members will not be allowed to enter Israel and the [disputed] territories.”

Santorum, Dutch Euthanasia And Goldstone

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum stated recently that ten percent of those who die in the Netherlands are killed by euthanasia. He added that half of these cases were involuntary.

Since 136,000 people died in the Netherlands in 2010, Santorum was essentially claiming that Dutch doctors kill close to 7,000 mainly elderly people per year without their permission. Over the course of a few years, this would make the Dutch medical profession a far bigger murderer of civilians than Syrian President Bashar al Assad.

There were many loud protests from the Netherlands stating that Santorum’s claims were false, as euthanasia is applied on 2.5 percent of all dying people per year. There are also no exact data on how many people were killed without their permission. A contributor to Forbes, however, pointed out that when applying certain calculations, Santorum’s claims may not have been so far off.

Whatever the exact figure, there are hundreds of cases every year of euthanasia in the Netherlands in which the patient is not asked his or her permission.

Let us now employ a bit of fantasy and assume that Muslim states were intent on assailing the Netherlands. They would claim in the United Nations Human Rights Council that such killings are a severe breach of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. These states could easily muster a majority to have the UNHRC appoint a commission of inquiry into this matter.

Who would be better qualified to head such a committee than the Grand Master of Flawed UNHRC Reporting, Judge Richard Goldstone? As his report on Israel was a classic exercise in distorted methodology, its model would be followed. His committee of inquiry would include one member who had already condemned the Netherlands on euthanasia and another who was generally hostile to the country.

Goldstone and his associates would set out with their proven procedural methods. The commission would reach its conclusion on the basis of what it “saw, heard and read.”

The commission had accepted hearsay in the Gaza war investigation; it would thus do the same in the Dutch situation.

As there are many medical doctors in the Netherlands who consider euthanasia immoral, a number of them would likely testify and present the “facts” about its abuse. (The refusal of these doctors to commit euthanasia has already led to another contested initiative – a system of mobile euthanasia units that will travel around the Netherlands to respond to the wishes of sick people who want to end their lives.)

Some individuals appearing before the Goldstone commission would tell of how family members had asked for involuntary euthanasia to be carried out on a patient in order to lay their hands on his inheritance.

As hearsay is accepted as evidence, I could also appear before the commission. I have a Dutch acquaintance who told me how hospital doctors exercised extreme pressure on her to authorize euthanasia on her mortally ill husband. She stated it was only because she has a son who is a doctor and another who is a lawyer that she had resisted their coercion.

As tens of babies born with an open back have been killed by Dutch doctors in recent years, there would likely be other doctors who would testify to the Goldstone commission that children born with that affliction have been unjustifiably characterized in Dutch society as “misfits.” Others who might appear before the commission would be from Helping Hands, a Christian organization that works for better protection for the handicapped.

Due to the commission inquiry, the international public argument on euthanasia would be widened. There would be articles stating that there have been quite a few doctors in history who were also mass murderers. They would then refer to Josef Mengele of Auschwitz infamy. This theme of doctors who murder could be extended to the late Haitian dictator Papa Doc François Duvalier and Bashar al Assad, as well as many other lesser known figures.

If Goldstone were consistent, the report would be damning. After some time had passed and major damage to The Netherlands was done, he would write an article recanting part of his report, just as he did concerning Israel.

All of this of course, is purely a thought experiment. Deeply flawed UNHRC reports only focus on the one country it condemns consistently – Israel. All other countries, including the Netherlands, needn’t worry.

Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld is chairman of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/santorum-dutch-euthanasia-and-goldstone/2012/03/21/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: