Show some backbone, EU|
hillel neuer , THE JERUSALEM POST
Mar. 24, 2008
The UN Human Rights Council's preoccupation with Israel will surge to a new
intensity this week with the expected election of two officials who describe the
Jewish state in Nazi terminology, along with three more resolutions indicting it
for a litany of alleged crimes.
Unless the European Union starts showing backbone, the UN's other powerful
voting blocs will continue scapegoating the Middle East's only democracy in
order to divert attention from situations of gross human rights abuses in places
like Tibet, Saudi Arabia and Zimbabwe, which target peaceful protesters, women
The council was created in June 2006 to reform the discredited Commission on
Human Rights, criticized by many for its regular focus on Israel to the
exclusion of the world's worst human rights violators. However, apart from some
passing attention to Burma, the supposedly reformed body has devoted all of its
condemnatory resolutions to the Jewish state - 16 to date.
Even still, the upcoming week, wrapping up the council's main annual session,
will stand out as particularly egregious.
First, the 47-nation council will vote on three separate resolutions,
introduced by the Arab and Islamic states, slamming Israel for alleged human
rights violations in the Golan Heights, concerning the settlements, and for
"severely impeding the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination."
There is not a word about recent Palestinian rocket and shooting attacks
As it happens, the council already condemned Israel during the first week of
this session - over events in Gaza - after Arab and Islamic states pushed the
panel to rearrange its schedule and open with Agenda Item 7, "the Human Rights
situation in Palestine and other Occupied Arab Territories," before anything
BY CONTRAST, the council has maintained strict silence on the bloody
shootings and mass arrests taking place in Tibet. Its resolutions have been
equally silent about abuses in 190 other countries.
Second, the Arab and Islamic states applied massive pressure on the council
leadership to list Richard Falk as the only nominee to be the next Special
Rapporteur on the Palestinian territories, to replace John Dugard, whose
six-year term ends soon.
The terms of the mandate, unchanged from February 1993, are to investigate
"Israel's violations of the principles and bases of international law." Actions
by Palestinians and other Middle East regimes - rocket attacks, suicide
bombings, state sponsorship of terror - are excluded from the
Falk, an emeritus professor at Princeton, is a veteran figure on the
international scene of radical Left and pro-Palestinian politics. "It is
especially painful for me, as an American Jew," he wrote in a recent article,
"to feel compelled to portray the ongoing and intensifying abuse of the
Palestinian people by Israel through a reliance on such an inflammatory metaphor
After describing the Nazi horrors, he asked, "Is it an irresponsible
overstatement to associate the treatment of Palestinians with this criminalized
Nazi record of collective atrocity? I think not."
Falk's article concluded by warning of a "Palestinian holocaust in the
making." If appointed, Falk will be a ubiquitous voice undermining the balanced
approach of the road map for peace.
THIRD, THE council is expected to elect Jean Ziegler, a radical Geneva
politician, to its 18-member advisory committee. As the UN expert on the right
to food for the past seven years, Ziegler ignored many of the world's most
starving populations, instead launching polemics against the West, the US and
In 2005, Ziegler compared Israeli soldiers to concentration camp guards.
During a 2006 interview, he said, "I refuse to describe Hizbullah as a terrorist
organization. It is a national resistance movement. I can understand Hizbullah
when they kidnap soldiers."
As documented by a new UN Watch documentary available on YouTube, Ziegler
also has an odd affinity for dictators. In 1989, shortly after Libyan agents
blew up Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, he went to Libya to co-found the
"Moammar Khaddafi Human Rights Prize," and served as its spokesman.
The prize has since been awarded to anti-Western dictators such as Fidel
Castro and Hugo Chavez, as well as racists and anti-Semites such as Louis
Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam, and Malaysian prime minister Mahathir
Muhammad. In 2002, the award went to Roger Garaudy, a French Holocaust denier -
in the same year that Ziegler won it himself.
Bizarrely, although he once boasted of it - in five different newspapers,
including Time magazine - Ziegler now denies any involvement with the
Can anything be done? Yes.
On the resolutions, the Arab and Islamic states rely on an automatic majority
of non-democratic countries. Yet the key battle is one of legitimacy, won or
lost by how the democratic European Union votes. If the EU would announce a new
stand of opposing the endless one-sided resolutions - instead of abstaining or
even voting in favor - they might actually end.
Regarding Richard Falk, the appointment tomorrow will be by consensus between
the council president and the 47 member states. If Canada and the EU publicly
declare their opposition to his nomination, there will be no consensus. Though
Falk could be elected by the Arab-backed majority, it is considered embarrassing
for any expert to begin a mandate without the support of key democratic
countries. The US, while not a voting member, must also publicly declare that
they do not support this US national.
Finally, Ziegler's election, also for tomorrow, will be decided by the 47
council members. His victory is virtually assured - unless Switzerland withdraws
his nomination. Human rights activists from Darfur, Cuba, the US and Europe have
appealed to Swiss President Pascal Couchepin to act now, as have many hundreds
of individuals through a petition on www.unwatch.org.
There's only one day left.
This week more than ever, the very credibility of the UN human rights system
is at stake.
The writer is executive director of UN Watch in Geneva.
Original article: Jerusalem Post
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