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UN Report By: David Solway
FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, September 25, 2009


As we all know, or should know, the United Nations is an organization distinguished chiefly by its propensity for scandals, for which its hospitality is legendary: to name just a few, the Congo sex scandal, the Iraqi Oil-for-Food scandal, the $5.2 billion UNDP (United Nations Development Program) scandal involving hiring irregularities and violation of financial controls and competitive bidding rules, and its having allowed the North Korean regime to use its bank account to transfer funds and, according to the Heritage Foundation, “to facilitate payments to a company that has ties to an entity involved in arms dealings.”

But the greatest scandal of all in its general proceedings is its treatment of the state of Israel, to which it devotes fully one third of its condemnatory resolutions and which it consistently attempts to marginalize and exclude. A case in point: from 1947 to the present, the UN has passed 146 resolutions dealing with the plight of the Palestinian refugees but not one referring to the ordeal of an even greater number of Jewish refugees expelled from their homes in Arab countries.

Let us go down the list. The United Nations Environmental Programme curiously refers to Egypt, with its nearly all-controlling central government, its 60,000 laws (some relics of Ottoman times), its fraudulently-elected leaders, and its ban on free assembly and the right of protest, as “a western-style democracy”—no doubt Israel must be a theocratic oriental-style tyranny. The UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People refers in its September 2004 workshop to “such sterile paradigms as ‘Israel’s self-defense’. ” (The Palestinians are the only irredentist group in the world with its own UN Committee, a privilege no other stateless group, neither Tibetans, Kurds, Tamils or Basques, currently enjoys.) The UN International Protection Workshop calls for “a boycott of Israeli goods” without mentioning Palestinian terror operations or systemic Palestinian corruption. The UN Interreligious Mobilization Workshop approves of “challeng[ing] Christian Zionism in moderate Christian communities.”

Former UN special rapporteur on the right to food, Swiss national Jean Ziegler, called on the EU to suspend its association agreement with Israel; of the more than 190 places in the world with malnutrition problems, Ziegler singled out the West Bank and Gaza, delivering a highly selective report on the situation there while passing over the devastation wrought by the Khartoum government on the Darfur region. Indeed, Ziegler defended the abysmal record of notorious human rights abusers like Cuba and Libya, as well as Sudan, while accusing the United States of every crime imaginable including backing Israeli “state terror.” Interestingly, Ziegler is a co-founder of the Muammar al-Gaddafi Human Rights Prize—an award which he himself later received. He was not so much a “special rapporteur” as a “special friend” to some of the world’s worst abusers of human rights. 

Kofi Annan in his opening speech to the General Assembly on September 21, 2004 cited only one country on earth for violating international law—Israel. Nothing on China in Tibet, Syria in Lebanon, the Mugabe regime in Zimbabwe, Russia in Chechnya, Sudan in Darfur (the word “Sudan” is never mentioned), or Palestinian rocket attacks and suicide bombings in Israeli towns and cities. In February 2006, Annan criticized Israel’s policy of targeted killings of terrorists as “executions without trial”—he made no mention of the suicide bombings of Israeli civilians, planned and carried out by these same terrorists. And on June 14, 2006, referring to an explosion on a Gaza beach that killed eight people and was almost to a certainty caused by a Palestinian mine, Annan told the Al-Hayat daily, “I don’t believe it is plausible that the Palestinians planted charges in a place where civilians often spend their time”—which, in point of fact, is a common Palestinian practice. UN envoys subsequently laid the blame on Israel, a pro forma gesture, since they did not examine the evidence put forward by Israel nor, obviously, did they peruse the full retraction printed by Germany’s Sueddeutsche Zeitung which had originally accused Israel of the atrocity.

The UN human rights report, prepared by UN Human Rights representative John Dugard and presented to the General Assembly in October 2004, charged that Israel was guilty of “massive and wanton destruction of property” and called for international sanctions, but made no reference to Palestinian rocket attacks against Israeli communities such as Sderot, gunrunners’ tunnels or suicide bombings. As keynote speaker at an emergency session of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on July 5, 2006, Dugard described Israeli conduct as “morally indefensible” and called the Israeli arrest of Hamas cabinet ministers in the wake of the June 25 crisis a violation of the Geneva Convention article prohibiting the taking of hostages. He had nothing to say about the event which sparked the crisis, the Palestinian raid into Israeli territory and, yes, the taking of a hostage, young Gilad Shalit who remains in captivity to this day.  

Dugard, we might recall, had notoriously praised the Palestinian terror groups for their “determination, daring and success.” The UNDP, under UN deputy secretary-general Mark Malloch Brown (now exercising his anti-Israeli animus from the UK Foreign Office), regularly transferred funds to Palestinian charities, such as Zaka Jenin and the Tul Karem Charity Committee, known to be fronts for terrorist groups. A typical example of the double standard at work in UN deliberations, brokering peace at the cost of Jewish lives, was its outcry against the IDF demolition of “houses” used as weapons storage depots and sniper emplacements in Rafah, the Gaza terrorist nest along the Egyptian border, and its continued threat to brand Israel as a war criminal for defending its citizens. 

Moreover, the UN can always be counted on to sandbag Israeli initiatives in the field or pro-Israeli resolutions in the General Assembly. The tepid response of Kofi Annan and the UN to the Hizbullah attack on Israel in July 2006, coupled with calls for Israeli “proportionality”—this in the face of 15,000 Iranian and Syrian supplied missiles targeting Israel, many of which were launched against Israeli towns and cities—was only another example of the institutional prejudice which governs its affairs. When UNIFIL (the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon)—which had done absolutely nothing to prevent Hizbullah cross border raids or the buildup of its rocket arsenal and even suppressed video footage of Hizbullah incursions—was struck during fighting in the summer 2006 war by Hizbullah rockets that fell short of their targets in Israel, an officer of the command post immediately blamed Israeli artillery fire.  

When an UNTSO (United Nations Truce Supervision Organization) base in southern Lebanon was mistakenly struck by the IAF in the midst of a chaotic war zone, Kofi Annan, flouting both impartiality and common sense, went on record as saying that Israel was guilty of an “apparently deliberate” attack. Not only did Annan not retract this accusation, he was conspicuously silent when twelve days later Hizbullah rockets hit another UN command post. And when the IDF launched a commando raid into Lebanon on August 19, 2006 to intercept a transfer of Syrian arms to Hizbullah—an ongoing process from which the UN has studiously averted its gaze and which ensures another and more bitter round of hostilities—this same perfidious windbag censured Israel for “a violation of the cease fire.” 

Meanwhile, UNIFIL forces under the direction of France threatened to fire on Israeli jets conducting reconnaissance missions but has allowed Hizbullah to restock its missile supply via Iran and Syria—according to Time magazine, the terrorist militia now had 20,000 short-range rockets in its arsenal. (Current estimates have raised the number to 40,000.) New reports indicate that tons of sophisticated weaponry, including long-range missiles, have been smuggled across the Syrian border by truck convoys operating at night. Yet the provision of weaponry is in clear violation of UN Resolution 1701, brokered by Annan, which calls for the disarming of all militias, including Hizbullah, and especially of Paragraph 8 which embargos “sales or supply of arms and related material to Lebanon except as authorized by its government.” But UNIFIL is not to be deterred. According to the Spanish commander of the UN force, as revealed during a video conference on June 10, 2009, it has been active “looking for Israeli spies.”  

Louise Arbour, at the time UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, responded to the conflict by issuing a statement stipulating the “personal criminal responsibility” under international law of those “in a position of command and control” for violating the “obligation to protect civilians during hostilities”—a thinly veiled threat against Israel’s leaders since terrorists do not have fixed addresses and do not answer summonses. Fresh from a “fact-finding” tour of the Middle East in November 2006, Arbour had no trouble blaming Israel more than Hizbullah for the summer war, deploring Israeli security checks in the West Bank that are directly responsible for the reduction in suicide attacks, and sympathizing overtly with the Palestinians despite the numberless provocations emanating from the Gaza Strip, the continued arms smuggling through the Philadelphi Corridor, the kidnappings, incursions and Kassaming of the southern Negev. (This is the same Louise Arbour who attended the conference of the so-called Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), chaired by Cuba, in Tehran on September 3, 2007, implicitly giving her support to the Iranian crackdown on dissidents of the regime and refusing to meet with members of the National Council of Resistance in Iran. On the day after her departure, 21 political prisoners were publicly hanged.) 

Ann Veneman, Executive Director of UNICEF, charged that Israel was engaged in “the continued targeting of civilians, particularly children.” Although 4000 Hizbullah rockets and missiles fell on Israel and one quarter of the country’s population—including “children”—was largely paralyzed, Jan Egeland, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, isolated Israel for “the excessive and disproportionate use of force.” UN draft resolutions seeking to stem the conflict failed to name Hizbullah or its sponsors, Syria and Iran, and made no mention of terrorism—indeed, in all the years of its existence, the United Nations has not yet gotten around to defining terrorism. 

The United Nations Human Rights Council, which replaced the discredited United Nations Commission on Human Rights in 2006, has to this date held four special sessions on Israel and passed sixteen resolutions against the country without taking on the real and flagrant human rights abusers in the world today, with the single exception of objecting to the military crackdown in Myanmar. The Council features two agendas at its annual session: one devoted to Israel, the other to the rest of the world. Special sessions may be called by one-third of the Council members, that is, sixteen nations, but the Organization of the Islamic Conference controls seventeen seats. When it comes to denouncing Israel, which is for all intents and purposes its raison d’être and practically its sole item of business, UNHRC does not even wait to gather and assess the facts: the investigative mission that it sponsored in November 2006 to examine the shelling in Beit Hanoun in Gaza condemned Israel prior to dispatching its task force to the region. Before a single result was in, it had already decided, to cite its resolution, on “the Israeli willful killing of Palestinian civilians.” 

In its meeting of December 8, 2006, Israel’s old friend John Dugard was once again up to his old tricks, siding with Pakistani diplomat Tehmina Janjua who spoke on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference which proposed yet another anti-Israel resolution. Its last two measures, adopted on June 19, 2007, isolated Israel above all other countries for continued investigation, placing the Jewish state on its agenda sheet for permanent review while exempting the dictatorships in Cuba and Belarus from further scrutiny. Strangely, all the major human rights violators have been granted immunity. Dominated by Muslim (and African) states and with European compliance, UNHRC has merely continued the policy of its predecessor whose disgraceful history it was intended to rectify; in its first year of operation, it did not single out any other state for criticism. Continuing the charade, in July 2007 Special Rapporteur Martin Scheinin, while critical of the current conduct of the UNHRC, dismissed its problems as merely transitional; he then took Special aim at Israel’s security fence for causing Palestinian suffering without offering any suggestions about how else to prevent suicide bombers from crossing into Israel and causing Israeli suffering. 

Between 2002-2008, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on “contemporary forms of racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance” was Doudou Diène from the predominantly Muslim nation of Senegal, whose mandate was to combat religious intolerance and incitement to hatred. From the UN’s perspective, he performed admirably in his billet. Highly critical of the Danish government in the Mohammed-cartoon affair and of racial conditions in the United States, he was characteristically silent on antisemitic cartoons published in Arab newspapers, textbooks in Saudi Arabia and Egypt which preach hatred against Jews and Christians, the Muslim-inspired genocide and slavery in Darfur, the suppression of women and the refusal to permit religious conversion in the Islamic world, and, of course, the policy of radical Jihad.  

In September of 2008, the UN’s Universal Periodic Review appointed South Korea, Azerbaijan and Nigeria, three countries that have distinctly critical of Israel, to conduct the review of Israel’s human rights record. Historian Richard Landes has coined the term “demopaths” to describe such nations, groups and individuals. “Demopaths are people who use democratic language and invoke human rights only when it serves their interests. Demopaths demand stringent levels of human ‘rights’ but do not apply these basic standards…to their own behavior….A demopathic organization,” he continues, “would protest the media portraying its ethnic/religious affiliates as ‘terrorists’ (inadmissable negative stereotyping), but would not protest the terrorist acts perpetrated by members of their ethnic/religious group (permissible wanton murder of civilians)” (The Augean Stables.com, June 24, 2009). 

The UN, of course, is the demopathic organization par excellence and its spokesmen continue to ply their trade. Back on August 31, 2006, Jan Egeland again, speaking for the UN (and seconded by Amnesty International), accused Israel for the use of cluster bombs in Lebanon, which he called “completely immoral,” but did not breathe a word about Hizbullah rockets packed with steel ball bearings intended to maximize civilian casualties in Israeli communities. When, after receiving a shipment of advanced Russian weaponry, Syria began to build up its military infrastructure on its southern border in early March 2007, signalling preparation for a possible future attack on the Golan Heights, the commander of UNDOF (United Nations Disengagement Observer Force), Maj.-Gen. Wolfgang Jilke, reported that he had not noticed anything out of the ordinary!  

When the notoriously anti-Israeli London daily The Independent accused Israel of using uranium-tipped weapons in Lebanon, UNEP (United Nations Environment Program) immediately sent twenty “experts” to analyze soil samples—the same UN which did nothing in Rwanda, refused to intervene in Bosnia and Kosovo, has had nothing to say about the Chinese conquest of Tibet or the Russian demolition of Grozny, has been dithering on Darfur for years and has allowed Hizbullah to rearm. But it wasted no time in taking the obviously biased Independent’s report seriously and rushing to investigate the evil practices of its Chosen People. No evidence was found to confirm these allegations, as Achim Steiner, the executive director of the UN Environment Program, later admitted—though the publicity damage had already been done and the Independent has not yet retracted its slanderous accusation. 

Rather than take issue with Palestinian terror, the UN General Assembly recently voted to establish a registry office to record Palestinian complaints and claims regarding the unfinished security fence, with a view to extorting Israeli reparations and restitution. Not a word was said about about UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency) schools in the Territories vetting textbooks exhorting Palestinian children to violence and murder—UNRWA was created to serve Arab interests and has justly been called the Palestinian “welfare state in exile”—or about the plague of suicide bombings that made the fence necessary in the first place, and no measure was discussed to levy reparation and restitution from the Palestinian Authority for the carnage wrought among Israeli civilians.  

UNRWA has still to explain the admission of its former Commissioner, Peter Hansen, in a CBC TV interview on October 3, 2004, that “I am sure there are Hamas members on the UNRWA payroll.” On employing members of an avowed terrorist group proscribed in many Western countries, Hansen commented: “I don’t see this as a crime.” Nor, presumably, does he see it as outrageous that UNRWA employs 25,000 staff members, mostly Palestinians, to care for the more than 4 million descendants of the original refugees while its sister organization UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) employs 6,300 people to attend to the needs of 33 million people in over 110 nations around the world. 

Moreover, the UN has chosen to ignore its own Genocide Convention under Articles 3 and 8 of which Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad should be indicted for incitement to genocide. As of this date, no action has been taken to subpoena the Iranian President for threatening to “wipe Israel off the map”—quite the opposite. When Ahmadinejad received his third annual invitation to address the UN plenum and delivered what amounted to a virulent antisemitic speech, he was warmly embraced by Father Miguel D’Escoto Brockmann, then president of the General Assembly, to the cheering and clapping of a hallful of delgates.  

In a speech delivered at the UN’s plenary session in November 2008, d’Escoto went on to accuse Israel of South African-type apartheid and urged the “international community” to consider “boycott, divestment and sanctions.” He did not utter a word about the precipitous rise of terrorism in the region, the artificial shortages manipulated by Hamas to create international indignation, or the rockets landing almost daily on Israeli territory. Such shameful complicity with evil was recently highlighted by 1976 Nobel Peace Prize Laueate, Mairead Maquire, who proposed that Israel’s membership in the UN should be suspended or revoked, though Iran, apparently, which is in open violation of the UN Charter, is to retain its seat, as are a number of other rogue despotisms. 

As the late Israeli Foreign Minister Abba Eban once said, if a member state proposed in the General Assembly that the earth was flat and that Israel had flattened it, the vote would pass 157-5 with 11 abstentions. The UN has also refused to grant the Jewish National Fund, an acknowledged world leader in global environmental issues, the consultative status enjoyed by its 2,800 recognized NGOs. Most recently, the UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, a title whose length is exceeded only by the list of its members, convened under the aegis of the European Parliament in Brussels to foreground a host of anti-Israeli NGOs, which is their sole criterion of admission. 

On February 15, 2008, the UN Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, John Holmes, added his voice to the anti-Israeli choir. His expression of sympathy for the plight of the residents of Kassam-ravaged Sderot did not prevent him from excoriating Israel for the “grim and miserable” state of affairs in Gaza. Holmes refers to Israel as an “occupying power” that, as such, has the obligations of an occupying power toward those whom it is occupying—an absolutely blatant lie as Gaza is a fully autonomous mini-state with an elected terrorist government and broad citizen support. Nor did he seem fazed by the fact that an average of ten rockets a day fell on Israel’s sovereign territory—while the UN debated Israel’s “overreaction.” The best that can be said for him is that he is a victim of cognitive dissonance; more likely, not to put too fine a point on it, he is just another blinkered UN hypocrite. 

The same epithet would apply to Dutch diplomat Robert Serry, the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, who in his February 28, 2008 report on the region, cited the UN’s “principled opposition to extra-judicial killing…in densely populated areas.” This meant accusing Israel for its selective response to Kassam-launching terrorists while remaining mum on the abomination that is Palestinian terror. Of the Israeli civilians—infants, the aged, students—wounded and killed in Sderot and Sapir College in various Gaza barrages, Skerry was characteristically silent. As was the UN Security Council which failed to condemn the terror attack on a Jersuaelm yeshiva—in the midst of a “densely populated area”—on March 6, 2008, which left eight young students dead and ten wounded.  

On March 27, 2007, Richard Falk, Emeritus Professor of International Law at Princeton University, was appointed to succeed the anti-Israeli John Dugard as UN Special Rapporteur on the Palestinian Territories. Falk accused Israel of subjecting Gaza to “life-endangering conditions of utmost cruelty,” described Palestinian rocket attacks on Israel as  “rather pathetic strikes mainly taking place in response to Israeli violent provocations,” and compared Israeli actions in the Territories to the Nazis’ “collective atrocity” (CounterCurren7s.org, July 7, 2007). Falk’s well-attested record of demonizing Israel, in defiance of both truth and decency, eminently qualified him for his appointment. 

On March 13, 2008, current UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon joined the demonic choir, denouncing Israel for the use of excessive force against the Palestinians, but typically failing to mention the many thousands of rockets aimed at Sderot or the eight yeshiva students gunned down in cold blood in Jerusalem, nor scrupling to suggest what non-excessive force could possibly signify in the circumstances. Adding to this scandalous farrago was Ban Ki-moon’s toothless July 1, 2008 report on the implementation of Resolution 1701, which makes no mention of of Hizbullah’s retaking of its original positions on the ground and its amassing of rockets and missiles to restock its arsenal, in total disregard of the terms of the cease-fire. (But why should we expect any different of a Secretary-General whom a senior Norwegian UN diplomat, Mona Juul, has called “spineless and charmless,” who appointed his son-in-law Siddarth Chatterjee to the position of regional director for Europe and the Middle East at the UN Office for Project Services, and who sends a letter of congratulation to Iranian tyrant Ahmadinejad on his recent—rigged—election?)  

The UNHRC Report reprehending Israel for war crimes in Operation Cast Lead, headed by Richard Goldstone and tabled on September 16, 2009, accused Israel of crimes it did not commit while effectively exculpating Hamas for crimes it did. Goldstone’s strategy was initially to establish a moral equivalence between a country defending its citizens and a terrorist organization deliberately attacking that country’s civilians. As one delves deeper into the Report, the strategy becomes ever more insidious, presenting Israel and Hamas not as moral equivalents but as political incompatibles, that is, Israel is depicted as a terrorist regime and Hamas as a legitimate government. (See Professor Avi Bell of Bar Ilan University in The Volokh Conspiracy for September 18, 2009).  

Goldstone also implied that Israel, but not Hamas, might be referred to the International Criminal Court. One may be forgiven for thinking that it is the UN that should be brought up before the ICC. Goldstone’s Report is, in the words of Alan Dershowitz, “so filled with lies, distortions and blood libels that it could have been written by Hamas extremists” (FrontPageMagazine, September 17, 2009). And as Michael Freund correctly observed, “the Goldstone report is nothing less than a political pogrom (Jerusalem Post, September 17, 2009). Charles Johnson once remarked, “The UN hit bottom a long time ago, but they’re still digging” (littlegreenfootballs.com, September 8, 2007). It must have reached China by now. 

Former U.S. ambassador Patrick Moynihan described the UN as a “dangerous place”; he meant for the U.S. but his summing up is far more applicable to Israel. The Israeli Mission to the UN has no say on policy-making and is frozen out of most committees, which are allocated by region. The Asian Group, to which Israel naturally belongs, has long refused membership to Israel, in  violation of the UN Charter. The UN, to put it brusquely, is a Mad Hatter’s tea party in which reality is supplanted by irresponsible tomfoolery and a private agenda. How else could it have allowed the International Atomic Energy Agency, which reports to the General Assembly and the Security Council, to elect Syria, reliably suspected of collaboration with North Korea’s nuclear program, as Deputy Chairman of its General Conference?  

It is high time to face the fact that the UN has been essentially taken over by the Arab bloc with Chinese and Russian backing, while the United States absurdly pays the lion’s share of the bills. And the bills keep coming in. The world is in the midst of a severe economic crisis; poverty and hunger are facts of life for a majority of the world’s population. Yet the UN proposes to spend $1 billion to renovate the Palais des Nations in Geneva and has already paid out $23 million for ceiling art. 

There can be little doubt that, had the UN of today existed in the 1930s, it would have made life easy for the Nazis. One may responsibly wonder whether the time has come not to defend but to defund this partisan organization—currently the 1-800 number for Islamic advocacy—on the grounds of both irrelevance and bad faith and have its remaining productive bodies assembled under different auspices. For the corruption which vitiates the practice and indeed the very existence of this once august body is beyond both belief and description. It is now literally impossible for even the most rigorous accounting to do justice, so to speak, to the United Nations’ shameful chronicle of injustice.  


David Solway is the award-winning author of over twenty-five books of poetry, criticism, educational theory, and travel. He is a contributor to magazines as varied as the Atlantic, the Sewanee Review, Books in Canada, and the Partisan Review. He is the author of The Big Lie: On Terror, Antisemitism, and Identity. A new book on Jewish and Israeli themes, Hear, O Israel!, will be released by CanadianValuesPress this fall.


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