The dark knights of human rights (Itai Reuveni)
Just over two weeks ago, there was a report about a Jewish woman in Iran who, for years, had been harassed by her Muslim neighbors who demanded that she evacuate her home to make room for a mosque. The woman was ultimately stabbed to death, and her body dismembered.
About a month ago, an Iranian human rights activist of Arab descent was tortured to death at a notorious Iranian prison. Add to that the testimony of a senior Revolutionary Guards officer who defected to the U.S., indicating that every woman who is sentenced to death in Iran is first raped so that she won’t enter heaven a virgin.
These are just a handful of examples out of thousands of human rights violations in Iran. This raises a disturbing question: Where are the human rights organizations? Where are the condemnation campaigns and calls for boycotts? Where are the threats to take senior Iranian officials to the International Court of Justice? Where are the enormous budgets? Shouldn’t there be lobbies crowding the halls of the U.N. and EU institutions?
The concept of “human rights” — founded on universal principles — has lost its moral significance and has now become merely a tool utilized by nongovernmental organizations as a means of obtaining political objectives. This exploitation, compounded by the blatant disregard for any facts that do not fall into line with the activists’ views, encourages nations like Iran to keep doing what they are doing. Human rights organizations have been commandeered by a handful of extremists who seek to advance a political ideology rather than protecting the world’s citizens, whether they are Iranian or Syrian, Palestinian or Israeli.
Iran is usually mentioned in the context of a security threat. The various organizations are only reminded of Iran in the context of Israel. There are nearly no campaigns for human rights in Iran — you can count the ones that do exist on the fingers of one hand. And so Iran, where, according to its president, there are no homosexuals or lesbians (and if there are, they are hanged in the city square), and where acid is squirted on protesters, and where men and women are raped in prison, and where the national sports are soccer and stoning people, keeps on abusing human rights. For their part, the human rights organizations argue that they don’t have the resources to take action within a closed society. Why take a risk when you can protest in Bil’in in the morning and have a beer in Tel Aviv that same afternoon?
These organizations fail to realize that human rights are inextricably linked to the strength of a society, even when said society exists under a sadistic tyrannical regime. Many people may find this surprising, but there is a strong, flourishing civil society in Iran, with a long, rich history of organizing: from the 1890 Tobacco Protest to the struggles over the constitution and the country’s oil, through to the 1979 Islamic Revolution all the way to the 2009 Iranian Election Protests and the creation of the Iranian Green Movement. This is a country with a rich social history and with a fascinating language and culture. But its freedom-seeking citizens have been abandoned by the knights of human rights, the knights who populate those organizations with the enormous budgets of hundreds of millions of dollars and with worldwide infrastructure and with ideologically motivated activists. These organizations allocate a large portion of their resources to the one-sided cheerleading squad for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, in complete disproportion to all the other human rights violations around the world.
For example: Robert Bernstein, the founder of Human Rights Watch, harshly criticized the very organization he founded in a New York Times op-ed several years ago. Bernstein criticized the organization for ignoring human rights violations in closed societies, for its anti-Israeli bias and for “issuing reports on the Israeli-Arab conflict that are helping those who wish to turn Israel into a pariah state.” He wrote this op-ed after a 2009 fundraising event in Saudi Arabia, organized by Human Rights Watch, in which anti-Israel rhetoric was used to raise money. That same year, a senior organization official visited Libya and praised Moammar Gadhafi’s son, calling him a reformer and leader of the Libyan Spring.
Today, international Human Rights Day, the human rights organizations need to do some soul searching and really check whether the allocation of their resources truly reflects the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (adopted by the U.N. on Dec. 10, 1948). They need to ask themselves whether the concentration of efforts to bash Israel and the disregard for violations in other countries truly contributes to the human rights of any group, or rather serves to alienate the public, to belittle the concept of human rights and to encourage rights violations in places like Iran.
If we honestly care about human rights, we must liberate the concept from the hands of those who have tried to commandeer it.
Ken Roth Flip-Flop: HRW Promised ICC Wouldn’t Target Israel, Yet Now Lobbies for It at View from GenevaNovember 6, 2012
Will the International Criminal Court be used as a political weapon against Israel? Should it?
In 2001, when trying to convince Americans to buy into the ICC, Human Rights Watch promised one thing; now it actively lobbies for the opposite.
Today, Human Rights Watch director Ken Roth criticized a New York Times editorial that he says “ignores key effect of Palestine observer state: possibility of joining [the] ICC and deterring both sides’ war crimes.”
This is hardly the first time that Human Rights Watch has justified and supported the Palestinian attempt to use the International Criminal Court in The Hague to pursue politically motivated cases against Israel:
- On September 16, 2009, miraculously within less than 24 hours after Judge Richard Goldstone released his notorious U.N. report accusing Israel of war crimes (which he retracted some 18 months later), Human Rights Watch published a detailed press release that “supported the fact-finding mission’s call for the Security Council to refer the Gaza conflict to the ICC”; argued that the ICC was “the obvious international tribunal for war crimes committed during the Gaza conflict”; and documented all of the possible ways that Israeli political and military leaders could be hauled before the ICC, including “if the ICC prosecutor acts positively on a declaration by the Palestinian National Authority requesting the court’s authority over crimes committed in Gaza.”
- While HRW was sometimes cagey on expressing outright support for the formal ICC request submitted by the PA (or rather the PNA, the Palestinian National Authority, as per HRW) there was no mistaking where they stood: “Human Rights Watch called on the ICC prosecutor to make a prompt legal determination on the Palestinian National Authority request, consistent with the ICC’s mandate to end impunity.” Hard to see how that last bit (emphasis added) could be read as anything but outright support.
- In a September 2010 speech to the UN Human Rights Council, HRW called on the 47-nation body to “urge the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to determine in a prompt manner whether he believes the court has jurisdiction over the Gaza conflict. Such a determination will clarify the avenues of international justice available.” Again, HRW made it clear how they wanted the jurisdiction question to be decided: “the parties to varying degrees have thus far not shown a willingness to conduct investigations up to international standards, so international prosecutions may be required.” Indeed, peace talks “in no way lessen the need for accountability. On the contrary, justice for serious violations should be part of the discussion.”
What is so interesting about all of this is that back in 2001, when Americans were debating whether or not to join and support the ICC, Ken Roth’s Human Rights Watch published “Myths and Facts About the International Criminal Court,” and assured the public that the ICC would never “be used to pursue politically motivated cases against Israel.” This concern was nothing but a “myth,” said Human Rights Watch.
And one of the reasons it wouldn’t happen was because of these “Facts”: “Future actions on Israeli or Palestinian territory will be covered only if the ICC treaty is ratified by Israel or by a broadly recognized Palestinian state.”
And as HRW’s Tom Malinowski assured us all in a Washington Post op-ed, “That will not happen until after a peace agreement, in which case the likelihood of Israeli military action against Palestinians greatly diminishes.”
Fast forward 11 years. HRW’s Ken Roth is now lobbying for the Palestinian bid to become a U.N. state and ICC member before a peace agreement — and indeed while the PA (or PNA, per HRW) has refused to even sit at the negotiating table with Israel. What happened to their “that will not happen” promise?
(h/t israpundit) Prosecutor’s Office rejects jurisdiction of “Palestine,” and echoes NGO Monitor’s legal brief
JERUSALEM – In a key defeat for NGO “lawfare” in the Arab-Israeli conflict, the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) of the International Criminal Court (ICC) today decided that it does not have jurisdiction to begin an investigation over cases related to the 2008-09 Gaza War because “Palestine” is not a state. In January 2009, the Palestinian Authority (PA) filed a letter with the Court, purporting to accept the ICC’s jurisdiction in order to bring war crimes cases against Israeli officials, notes Jerusalem-based NGO Monitor, which was involved in the case from the outset.
“Throughout this process, the ICC – created to punish the worst perpetrators of war crimes and mass murder – was exploited by several EU- and European-government funded non-governmental organizations (NGOs), which intensively lobbied the OTP as part of their campaign to attack the legitimacy of the State of Israel,” says Anne Herzberg, legal advisor for NGO Monitor. “The NGOs Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Al Haq, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, Federation Internationale des Ligues des Droits de l´Homme (FIDH), and Adalah campaigned at the ICC in support of the Palestinian Authority’s political goals. This clearly was contradictory to the spirit and substance of peace negotiations.”
On behalf of NGO Monitor, Herzberg submitted a legal brief on the case. The brief argued that the ICC’s jurisdiction is defined by the 1998 Rome Statute, which makes clear that only states can accept the Court’s jurisdiction. The Statute was adopted after years of careful diplomatic negotiations, and allowing the PA to fall under the Court’s jurisdiction would have essentially amounted to a re-writing of the Statute. In addition, the brief argued that, contrary to claims by NGO proponents of the PA initiative, the ICC was not established as a court of universal jurisdiction, and NGO attempts to transform it into such would be legally improper. The OTP used similar arguments to support its decision.
“The fact that the case even proceeded this far was clear legal overreaching, but it shows the strength of NGOs that lead the de-legitimization and demonization campaigns against Israel,” adds Herzberg. “The OTP’s decision today is a strong rebuke to these NGOs, their political agenda, and their campaign to isolate Israel from the international community,” notes Herzberg. “International arenas are routinely hijacked for political purposes, but today’s decision was markedly different.”
it should of never come down to a technicality like this. Jews have a right to protect themselves even if it were a state. Shortly it will be the Muslim Brotherhood running things in Egypt. If Israel defends it’s civilians from rocket fire it is their right to do so. Technically speaking… the rules of this court are obscene. During the Holocaust the Jews did not have a state. Is the court saying that this technicality could of been used to protect Nazis if the legal precedent of today existed during World War II? It’s a little obtuse. People that initiate violence through terror… should be responded to as Israel did, regardless of the civilians they hide behind.
|(Montreal Gazette / Photograph by: Alexander Natruskin, Reuters )|
With the Arab Spring evolving into an Islamic winter, the Obama administration tries foreign policy one more time… nonintervention… yeah… Obama… right. wink wink…¯\_(ツ)_/¯
in 2003 much of the left pointed out that Russia did not support our involvement in Iraq. What we forget is what Russia really was irked about was our invasion in the Balkens. Ah… the web those liberals weave for the Conservatives when the government crashes and burns
(NGO Monitor) JERUSALEM – While welcoming the agreement to release kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit as an important humanitarian act, Professor Gerald M. Steinberg, president of human rights watchdog NGO Monitor, noted that this episode further exposes the moral bankruptcy of international human rights mechanisms.
“Throughout the five years of Shalit’s captivity in Gaza, during which every human rights obligation was blatantly violated, organizations such as the UN Human Rights Council, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EMHRN), Gisha, and the International Red Cross demonstrated very little interest,” Steinberg stated. “Similarly, the report of the UN Fact-Finding Commission on the Gaza War, headed by Judge Richard Goldstone, downplayed Shalit’s captivity in blatant violation of international law. This moral stain will never be erased.”
In addition, NGO Monitor noted that the agreement to release hundreds of terrorists, responsible for heinous crimes, and tried and convicted according to due process of law, highlights the continued erosion of international legal principles. Instead of serving their time for these convictions, the murderers have been freed under extreme duress and compulsion, adding to the incentives for similar actions in the future. Organizations dedicated to human rights have an obligation to condemn such immoral extortion.
Gilad Shalit. It was worth it! 1000 terrorists that Israelis humanely have to pay for versus one hostage that the NGO community was ignoring and was abused is completely worth it. further it allows the Israelis to now shoot those they had to care for before. There is no loss here. Had Bibi waited a month there would of been no Egypt as we know it to negotiate with. It is a hard pill to swallow, but think of the outrageous torture Gilad would of endured that Amnesty International and the Red Cross would of ignored. it’s another example of how comparing the numbers is irrelevant. If we were to compare numbers there would be no Israel at all. We can only compare numbers when we make the assumption that the enemy captives are treated like Israeli captives. This would be a prime example of denying the correlative.
Muslim nations voted against the measure: denouncing discrimination against homosexuals and women… yes indeed. This is what the United Nations puts on a pedestal for human rights. Muslim control of the issues.
Note that the Council decision to launch a new study of discrimination and violence against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity was opposed by all Islamic states. What is the incentive to respect those that Mohammad did not respect if they can merely give feminist money to elite American colleges like Columbia University? Let me say it again …Public relations for third world dictators want feminism not G-d. They want to promote their tyranny to the ladies who they hurt.(JPost) On Friday at 6 p.m. the Obama administration promise to fix the disreputable UN Human Rights Council by becoming a member died a predictable death at the UN General Assembly. Knowing they were headed for certain defeat, Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of International Organization Affairs, Esther Brimmer, spoke to a Washington institute on Wednesday touting the President’s “reform” accomplishments from inside the UN’s top human rights body. And her whitewash was supplemented at the end of the week by a barrage of statements and press releases from the State Department. None of it passes House Speaker John Boehner’s “straight-face test” for Obama’s foreign policy.
While the GA was nailing the coffin shut on council reform in New York, the council itself was wrapping up its latest session in Geneva with its usual systematic efforts to demonize the State of Israel. Though Brimmer’s speech included a disingenuous declaration that US membership in the council was especially beneficial for Israel, Friday’s events will solidify the growing perception of the president’s dangerous disinterest in Israel’s welfare.
The council was the “reformed” version of the UN Human Rights Commission, which once flaunted a Libyan chair. The Bush administration and its UN ambassador John Bolton opposed this 2006 “reform” on the grounds that the changes were superficial and there were no membership criteria for election to what was, after all, the UN’s top human rights body. The European Union, however, was bought off by including a five-year review plan. That review ended Friday with the adoption of a GA resolution that kicked any further reconsideration down the road “10-15 years.”
From the day it began, the council has proved to be even worse than its predecessor. Sitting in judgment on human rights violations worldwide are such luminaries as China, Cuba and Saudi Arabia. Member Libya had no difficulty being elected, and its suspension didn’t occur until March of this year, when the numbers of dead finally proved too embarrassing. But throwing women in jail for driving, outlawing freedom of religion, rendering homosexuality a capital offense and periodically cutting off heads haven’t made a dent in Saudi membership.
ON THE contrary, the most recent council election, which took place on May 20 at the GA, looked like this. Just before the vote, candidate Kuwait gave each state’s representative in the Assembly Hall a little box decorated with its flag and containing four delightful fresh dates. Austria gave delegates a package of cookies with a pretty bow marked “taste of Austria.”
Costa Rica distributed a colorful red wooden toy cart. India handed out “high elevation darjeeling tea,” and Romania gave out a very nice large calendar. Along with Burkina Faso, where most of the female population has undergone female genital mutilation – aka torture – they were all duly elected.
With their actual human rights credentials off the table, council members adopted a fixed agenda of only a few items to govern their proceedings. One item is devoted to Israel alone and one to all other 191 UN member states. The Human Rights Commission spent 40 years adopting country-specific criticisms, a third of which condemned Israel. Fifty percent of the “reformed” council’s country-specific resolutions and decisions are devoted to Israel-bashing. There have been 12 special sessions in the last five years, and half of them have been on Israel alone. There has been only one “urgent debate” on a country – Israel. There have been more human rights reports commissioned on Israel than on any other state. And only one country is not allowed even to attend the lobbying and information-sharing regional meetings associated with the council sessions – Israel – while “Palestine” is invited to all of them.
Rather than discredit a body that calls itself a human rights authority but reeks of discrimination, and is tasked with promoting tolerance but provides a global platform for hate-mongering, Obama decided to give it American credibility and taxpayer dollars. His No. 1 excuse was the promise to reform it from the inside.
Here’s Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and UN Ambassador Susan Rice on March 31, 2009, explaining the reason to join: “The Council… is scheduled to undergo a formal review of its structure and procedures in 2011, which will offer a significant opportunity for Council reform.”
US Ambassador to the Council Eileen Donahoe, in a September 13, 2010, New York Times editorial, called the review “a serious self-reflection exercise” and claimed that “if we do not sit at the table with others and do the work necessary to influence the process, US values and priorities will not be reflected in the outcome.”
Even as late as March 25 of this year, a poker-faced administration spokesperson said: “The United States… looks forward to working with UN member states as the HRC review process continues in New York. There is still room to… ensure greater scrutiny of the human rights records of candidates for election to this body.”
ON FRIDAY, those promises were shown to be utterly fraudulent. Every major recommendation that American negotiators made over a process spanning many months, including instituting membership criteria and changing the discriminatory anti-Israel agenda, was rejected. Only four states voted in the GA against the outcome of the non-reform reform: Israel, the United States, Canada and Palau.
Gloating over the total defeat of the Obama plan were Syria (speaking for the Arab group), Russia (speaking for a revealing “cross-regional group” comprising Algeria, Belarus, Bolivia, China, Cuba, Iran, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Syria, Venezuela, Vietnam and Yemen), Tajikistan (speaking for the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC)), Iran and Egypt. Syria called the president’s bluff this way: “Warmest thanks… Our efforts were crowned by arriving at the document before us today… The main objective of our work was… not reform because the Council was already a reform of the Commission.”
Islamic states have reason to be pleased. The council majority is held by a combination of two regional groups – African and Asian – and OIC members are the majority on both of these groups, thus giving them the balance of power.
The consequences of this political landscape were reinforced by Friday’s events at the council session in Geneva. The council wrapped up its latest session by adopting one more resolution on Israel – this time about the eight Turkish extremists killed a year ago trying to ram a legal blockade of terrorist-run Gaza. There was no resolution on Syria – further condemnation by the council was put off until next session, three months away. And nothing from the council on Yemen, on account of insufficient data. Of the eight votes in total held at this session, the US was on the losing side for six of them.
According to the Obama administration, however, the current US approach to the UN is supposedly good for Israel. In Brimmer’s words, the council has “improved as the result of direct US engagement. If we cede ground, if our engagement in the UN system is restricted – these bodies likely would be dominated by our adversaries. A scenario… not good for the United States and certainly not for Israel.”
The Obama line about knowing what is in Israel’s best interests is beginning to wear very thin. The council’s vote on the flotilla resolution was 36 for, eight abstentions and one against – the United States. US membership has made no difference to the outcomes on Israel. But it has given those outcomes a credibility that they don’t deserve.
After Friday’s GA vote, Obama diplomat John Sammis labeled the council’s “effectiveness and legitimacy” as “compromised,” called its agenda “unfair and unbalanced,” and said its membership policy “discredits, dishonors and diminishes” the body. Talk is cheap. The decent thing for the US to do after finally coming to such a conclusion would be to announce its departure or at least allow its term to expire next year.
But Obama has done nothing of the kind. Ensuring the American team had no bargaining power, the administration declared in March – three months before the end of negotiations and a whopping 18 months in advance of the next election – that the US would run for a second term.
Not coincidentally, on Friday the administration decided to circulate a list of the council’s accomplishments at the last session. In addition to itemizing mere statements from groups of countries on issues that the council itself refused to handle, they pointed to the Council decision to launch a new study of discrimination and violence against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity.
For Obama, progress on other human rights issues takes priority over the unequal treatment of Israel and Jewish self-determination. It’s an old trick, playing minority groups off against one another. But at the end of the day there is no escaping the fact that in the name of human rights, the administration has trashed the fundamental norm of human rights protection – equality. And genuine human rights advocates ought to know only too well how exemption clauses on human dignity are bound to turn out. via eye-on-the-world.blogspot.com