by Joseph Klein
Departing UN Human Rights Commissioner takes one last shot at Israel.
Natan Sharansky has written about what he called the "new anti-Semitism," which “is aimed at the Jewish state.” He described his ‘3D’ test “to help us distinguish legitimate criticism of Israel from anti-Semitism.” The 3D’s stand for “demonization,” “double standards,” and “delegitimization.”
Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein, the outgoing head of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, displayed once again how he has satisfied all 3D’s that define today’s brand of anti-Semitism. In a video address to the UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People on Monday, he condemned only Israel for the ongoing violence in Gaza. He blamed the “grossly inadequate living conditions” only on Israel’s 11-year Gaza partial blockade. Zeid gave the terrorist organization Hamas a free pass. For good measure, Zeid also denounced the Israeli Knesset’s recent approval of a law that declared Israel the nation-state of the Jewish people. He said the law “anchors inherent discrimination against non-Jewish communities, most notably the Arab citizens of Israel and residents of occupied East Jerusalem.”
The principal reason why Zeid’s inflammatory comments constitute rank anti-Semitism is not because they criticize Israeli government policies and actions. Such criticisms, if based on objective facts, are legitimate, as Mr. Sharansky has acknowledged. Zeid is anti-Semitic because he demonizes and spreads lies about Israel and delegitimizes its Jewish identity, while applying a hypocritical double standard in his denunciations.
Israel unilaterally withdrew its military from Gaza and dismantled its settlements there in 2005. The Palestinians then became the masters of their own fate. Israel worked cooperatively with the Palestinian Authority after its withdrawal to keep border crossings between Gaza and Israel as open and secure as possible. Once the Hamas terrorists came into power, however, and forcibly threw their Fatah rivals out of Gaza, they set about converting what could have been an economically self-sufficient, independently governed prototype of a Palestinian state, living side by side in peace with Israel, into a haven for terrorism.
Hamas exploited its control of Gaza to covertly import rockets and other offensive weaponry, supplied in part by Iran. They used the weapons to launch terror attacks against civilian targets in Israel. Hamas diverted materials meant for the construction of housing, schools and hospitals to build terror tunnels and other military facilities. Hamas used Palestinian civilians, including children, as human shields.
“From 2006-2016, there have been 10,412 rocket attacks, at an average of 947 per year,” according to the Jerusalem Post. More rockets were fired at Israel in 2017 than during the previous two years, the Jerusalem Post also reported. During 2018, so far, the Palestinian terrorists have launched hundreds of rockets and incendiary and explosive devices into Israel, causing civilian casualties, property damage and widespread fires. As for the Palestinians killed and wounded during the so-called “right of return” protests earlier this year along the Gaza-Israeli border, a senior Hamas official, Salah Bardawil, has admitted that 50 out of the 60 who died on the day of the deadliest confrontation were members of Hamas.
Zeid gave no credence at all to Israel’s legitimate right of self-defense, or to the explanation that border restrictions were necessary to stem the flow of offensive weapons into the hands of the Palestinian terrorists who used them in escalating attacks against Israeli civilians. He chose to ignore Hamas’s continuing pattern of violence. He dismissed what he called Israel’s own “accountability mechanisms,” because, he claimed, “there are serious concerns that these are not in compliance with the international standards of independence, impartiality, and effectiveness.”
Even the UN’s Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nickolay Mladenov, has acknowledged that Hamas’s control of Gaza and Palestinian internal disunity have contributed to the Palestinians’ woes, along with Israel’s border closings. He “appealed to Palestinian factions not to provoke incidents at the [Gaza]fence, to immediately stop the firing of rockets and mortars and to stop the incendiary kites and balloons,” while also appealing to Israel to reopen the crossing, stop the shelling and to exercise restraint. He acknowledged that “Israelis across the fence have lived with a constant threat of rocket attacks for the last decade.” Most importantly, Mr. Mladenov has called for there to be one Palestinian legal system uniting Gaza and the West Bank where “all weapons are under the control of the legitimate national authorities.” He was referring to the Palestinian Authority, not Hamas. In short, at least one high level UN envoy tried to show some balance. But not the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein. Zeid has condemned only Israel.
Just days after his latest pronouncements condemning Israel, Zeid took a very different approach to acts of violence in Cameroon, a nation governed under repressive one-man rule. Zeid belatedly issued a tepid criticism of “persistent reports of human rights violations and abuses in the English-speaking Northwest and Southwest regions of Cameroon, as well as in the Extreme North.” He mentioned “reports” of the government’s “excessive use of force, burning down of houses, arbitrary detentions and torture,” but treated as proven fact reports of “abuses by armed elements” against government forces. Despite his claiming to be “utterly appalled” by a video “reportedly” showing members of the armed forces executing a woman, a child and a baby accused of being members of Boko Haram, Zeid urged the Government itself to “launch independent investigations into the reports of human rights violations by State security forces as well as abuses by armed elements.”
In other words, Zeid was open to accepting the findings of an investigation conducted by a repressive regime governed under one-man rule. Zeid balanced his criticism of Cameroonian government responses to attacks from armed groups with criticism of the actions of armed groups themselves opposing the government. However, Zeid refused to trust Israel, the only true democracy in the Middle East, to conduct a meaningful investigation. He ignored the terrorist group Hamas’s role in precipitating the violence near the Gaza-Israeli border that led to the deaths of multiple Palestinians, many of whom Hamas admitted were its own members. Zeid’s anti-Semitic double standard in denouncing only Israel, in contrast to the way he characterized the Cameroonian violence, speaks for itself.
Finally, Zeid’s denunciation of the recently passed law declaring Israel the nation-state of the Jewish people is a blatant attempt to delegitimize Israel’s core mission to provide security and self-determination for the Jewish people in a homeland of their own. For too many centuries the Jewish people have been persecuted, castigated and discriminated against as “the other” in so many other nations of the world, culminating in the Holocaust. Recognizing the raison d'être for the modern state of Israel in the historic homeland of the Jewish people does not negate the rights of non-Jews living in Israel. Arabic is still accorded special status as a language. Non-Jewish citizens living in the state of Israel can continue to vote, serve in the Knesset, appeal to Israeli courts, own property and worship as they please. Let’s contrast this with the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, where Zeid himself is from. It is ruled by the Hashemite dynasty, which claims to be descended from Islam’s prophet, Mohammed. According to Jordan’s Constitution, Islam is the state religion. The government accords primacy to Sharia Islamic law. Conversion from Islam is prohibited. Jordan’s Nationality Law, as amended, explicitly discriminated against Jews by denying them eligibility for citizenship. It stipulated that Jordan nationals include “[A]ny person who, not being Jewish, possessed Palestinian nationality before 15 May 1948 and was a regular resident in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan between 20 December 1949 and 16 February 1954.” (Emphasis added) Moreover, according to Human Rights Watch, Jordan has discriminated against Palestinians by withdrawing nationality status from thousands of its erstwhile citizens of Palestinian origin arbitrarily and in violation of its own Nationality Law.
In short, Zeid’s own country has a constitution enshrining Islam as the official state religion, a Nationality Law that explicitly barred Jews from becoming Jordanian nationals, and a system that has taken away rights of citizenship from Palestinians. Yet Zeid has chosen to condemn Israel for a law that does not approach the non-democratic restrictions built into Jordan’s legal system and practices. He is applying a double standard. He is also de-legitimizing the right of Israel to proclaim the Jewish people’s right of self-determination in a secure homeland of their own.
Thankfully, Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein’s opportunity to use his platform as United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to spew his anti-Semitic venom against the Jewish state of Israel is coming to an end. UN Secretary General António Guterres is in the process of selecting Zeid’s replacement. Is it too much to hope that another anti-Semite will not take Zeid’s place? Most likely, given the UN's past dismal record in dealing with human rights issues, especially as they relate to Israel.
Follow Middle East and Terrorism on Twitter