Wednesday, July 12, 2006

They're At It Again

This, from the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, is worth quoting in full:
The newly "reformed" United Nations Human Rights Council held its first session from June 19-30, 2006. The Council failed to adopt a single statement for the victims of gross atrocities in Darfur. The Council passed only one country-specific resolution. Can you guess which country was specified?

Of course you can. The U.N. Human Rights Council placed the human rights violations of Israel on the agenda for the next session: Resolution A/HRC/1/L.15 (June 29, 2006). In Freedom House's annual rankings, on a scale of 1 as most free and 7 as least free, Israel received a ranking of 1 for political rights, and 2 for civil liberties, and was characterized as "free" on the freedom rating scale. By contrast, the sponsors of this resolution, with their respective scoring, included: Cuba (7-7-not free), Iran (6-6-not free), Libya (7-7-not free), and Syria (7-7-not free).

Additionally, on July 5, upon the request of the "Arab Group," the Council convened its first-ever special session to address "the human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territory caused by the recent Israeli military operations against Palestinian civilians."

At the end of the special session, the Council passed a resolution by a vote of 29-11-5, which dispatched a fact-finding mission to the area, expressed grave concern at the human rights violations caused by the Israeli "occupation," including the current extensive Israeli military operations, and demanded that Israel "abide scrupulously by the provisions of international humanitarian law and human rights law."

The resolution makes no mention of other violations of human rights laws, such as the rockets Palestinian militants have been firing into Israeli cities or the incursion into sovereign Israeli territory by Palestinian militants for the express purpose of killing and/or abducting Israeli soldiers -- the acts which precipitated this most recent outbreak of hostilities.

In other words, the reformed Human Rights Council is acting exactly as did the unreformed UN Human Rights Commission. Anne Bayefsky, editor of www.EyeontheUN.org writes that "over a 40-year period, 30 percent of the resolutions [from the Commission] condemning human rights violations by specific states were directed at Israel."

She adds that organizations such as Human Rights Watch turn a blind eye to this anti-Israeli discrimination (as they often shrug at human rights violations against Americans; a column I wrote on this theme is here).

Human Rights Watch expressed "concern" about the renewed Israel-bashing but concluded "the first session of the new U.N. Human Rights Council was largely successful in laying a foundation for its future work."

Bayevsky adds: "The original mission of the U.N. was rooted in the legacy of the Holocaust, the shield of 'never again,' and the lance of human-rights protection. We are witnesses to the hijacking of the Organization to serve the purveyors of bigotry and hate. Continuing to pay for the travesty should no longer be an option."

More and more an international body that gives all nation states equal voice is proving to be a fallacy. I am by most any stretch a liberal internationalist. But that said, my internationalism privileges certain nations. Liberal democracies warrant our attention and support more than authoritarian regimes. A willful group of totalitarian states continues to hijack the UN with its obsession on Israel at the expense of promoting real change and embracing serious human rights reform. The U.N.'s fecklessness on these points is so depressing precisely because there is such need for it to be able to do its job. Whatever Israel's flaws, the focus of the United Nations on it as a whipping boy is transcendentally absurd.

13 comments:

Abhinav Aima said...
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Abhinav Aima said...
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montana urban legend said...

The ranking for Israel's governance of the Occupied Territories (currently numbered at pretty much 1 - i.e. the West Bank, and counting) is basically the same as that under the P.A. (new, democratically-improved Hamas version!).

Since Dcat's point is about not putting tyrannies and autocracies on equal footing with liberal democracies in terms of their representation (and/or clout?) in international governing organizations, that would mean that, lacking PLO observer status in the UN - and all the pet propaganda projects that go with it - the General Assembly would have nothing to do.

Damn.

But then again, neither would the Human Rights Council.

On a related note, check out the Arab blogosphere (and friends!) on the crisis in Lebanon. There seems to be a burgeoning level of understanding that rises above the madness and political ignorance on the part of so many both here, there and abroad that seem incapable of anything other than spouting silly line upon silly line, (combined with a meaningless platitude and an uncreative sprinkle of exasperation here and there for good measure), on the Middle East - perenially to no effect. Even if the madness is unstoppable this time, there seems to be an increasing level of awareness as to what idiotic trends precipitate it, and what those especially in Lebanon would like to do to change that. (Hint, having shoved Assad, Nasrallah's fat tushy and shit-eating grin are looking like they're next in line).

Stay tuned...

Abhinav Aima said...
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Abhinav Aima said...
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montana urban legend said...

Not that there's much point to responding to someone so unrestrained as to lack the ability for any response other than to fly off the handle with apparently whatever vile imagery and violent memories they keep so well stored in their limbic system for easy access and ready, all-purpose use, so any reader here should consider this a general response...

And one, given Mr. Aima's horrendously deplorable reading skills, that I will likely not see much point to further engaging or explaining further.

With that in mind, notice, Dear Reader, my use of the word "numbered," as opposed to "ranked." This clearly refers to the number of territories occupied by Israel, rather than their ranking by Freedom House - which I clearly said were basically the same as under the P.A.

Now some may quibble over whether East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights count in this context, but lest anyone so blindingly confuse my mere words with a sword, I'll just say that East J'lem can either be considered as a separate case or as part of the West Bank, and while the Golan Heights may or may not have been considered as part of the FH analysis, it should be considered as part of a separate analysis within the context of occupied territories that can be looked at as a part of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict - which, while the broader Arab-Israeli conflict, and the Israeli-Syrian track specifically - may or may not hinge on that, the status of the few tens of thousands (at most) Druze residents of the Golan hardly seems like anything other than a peripheral point in what could have been, under other circumstances, a rational discussion.

...especially since specific reference was made by Krull himself to the P.A., which Mr. Aima - given all his journalistic skills - could clearly have read was ranked by Freedom House.

Rational people should also note that residents of E. J'lem and the Golan have at various times been offered Israeli citizenship, in which case Israel's higher rankings would have applied.

As for Mr. Aima's erroneous aspersions, I suppose it can't hurt to go ahead and cast my own. But us Neocon Likudians (whatever that means, and wherever anyone would have got that idea), have more intelligent things to do than to post clarifications that emotionally better restrained non-vulgarians don't require. I've already alluded to them, the quality of their open-minded insight into the dynamics of the conflict that they provide, and as an aside, the success I think they will have in overcoming the "radical Islamic fundamentalism" that Mr. Aima's - (in his own estimation) - vainglorious clan has done little more than to just "deal with" for 700 years.

Such is the fate of those who see nothing other than an opportunity to quench their need for violently rhetorical vulgar retribution lurking around every corner of the blogosphere and beyond.

But on the positive side, it looks like Chris Pettit will now have a playmate. And an intellectually compatible one at that.

montana urban legend said...

Those with investigative journalistic skills better than some wouldn't have required my posting here of Freedom House's rankings of Palestinian Authority-Administered Territories, whose existence some pompously deny. They would have just typed it at the cursor of the search prompt of the main search page.

Abhinav Aima said...
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Abhinav Aima said...
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montana urban legend said...

I appreciate this turn (which I did not expect) and will readily admit that I share in your concern if not despondent sense of disavowal over Israel's latest actions (if not tactics) in Lebanon, in which large numbers of civilians seem to bearing the brunt of the violence. As to my own identity I actually don't have a conventionally strong background in much other than my own technical field - other than passionate and well-read interests, buttressed by conversations and debates with good friends who very much do. I prefer the pseudonymity that blogs can allow and try to respect the concerns of those with more traceable if not outright self-representation. I suppose I hold to the romantic notion that arguments can thereby be attended to in cyberspace in and of themselves, while reducing the baggage of easy-access to personal and professional appeals and digs, but again, appreciate and attempt to deal more sensitively with those who have to approach it from a different perspective. Dcat might have a couple of better ideas or clues as to who I might be, but I'll just leave it at that.

We're in agreement that Israel's behavior in the territories is sufficiently different from how it treats its own citizens (including Arabs, although not without problems there too, of course), and this is why I think it's important for Freedom House or any other observer to consider them separately, and within the context of the conflict, its proposed resolutions, its politics, etc.

I think it highly unlikely that Nasrallah (and certainly not Assad) would be "removed," so to speak, by Israel in this round. I have got the impression that more than a few in or close to the Levant are increasingly willing to criticize the role played by Hezbullah and Hamas in the broader dynamics of this stage of the conflict, and that this criticism is healthy for Lebanon if not the region as a whole. It was certainly surprising for me to hear. As for my own thoughts of the two of them, I'll say... well, not much.

What I like about such bloggers (noted, as I was directed to, by Andrew Sullivan) living in the region is their willingness to engage or link comments posted by Israelis who are equally frank about their own leaders - who they might just as readily admit can act out of a perceived need to "be tough," - rather than simply advising their blog hosts to put their heads between their legs and kiss their asses goodbye. There seems to be a humanistic regard for personal relationships and objective political realities that make the dialogue incredibly more interesting. I suppose such is the current state of personal, cross-border relationships in the Middle East. The culture of Arabs and Jews are more alike in many ways than either group like to admit, and hopefully, their shared penchant for brutal honesty at times will be part of what saves them from each other.

I know just enough to be dangerous on Kashmir, but am always willing to read and listen to more.

Be careful of anticipating the enjoyment of Mr. Pettit's company!

Abhinav Aima said...
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montana urban legend said...

I appreciate this analysis. It makes a lot of sense.

I guess as someone who (like Derek) generally leans to the more pro-Israel side of the fence, the one interest that I have the most trouble understanding or finding a coherent and realistic definition for, is that of Hamas.

dcat said...

I have not forgotten you all or this conversation -- though I'm glad you two pulled it together, because if I had to stop this car, so help me . . .
But I just got ack and am still buried from my time abroad, never mind from the weekend away and the like. I'll probably simply write a new post givenm how things have developed in the region in the days since I wrote the first post.

dcat