By DAVID MATAS Going to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva means wandering into an alternative universe. Everywhere else, people are concerned about a wide variety of human rights issues. In Geneva, at the UN Human Rights Council, the concern is primarily Israel.
When the Council began in 2006 the focus was only Israel, to the exclusion of every other country. Now there are other countries which attract the attention of the Council. But by any measure – whether it be the number of resolutions, special sessions or studies, or extremes of language – Israel leads the attention of the Council hands down. Israel is the only country with a special rapporteur whose mandate is indefinite and the only country with a dedicated agenda item. The Council in its March 2015 session, which ended Friday March 27th, passed four resolutions on Israel and four resolutions on the human rights situation in the rest of the world – in Iran, North Korean, Myanmar (Burma) and Syria.
For this odd result, the blame lies in large part with the structure of the Council. The Council, which was established by the UN General Assembly, consists of only 47 states, with regional blocs. The Asian and African blocs are 13 states each. Their combination, 26 states, forms a majority of the Council. Though there is a one third turnover in membership every year, a constant has been that the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has formed a majority of the combined Asian and African blocs.
Moreover, the OIC, on all matters relating to Israel, defers to the Palestinian Authority. The UN Human Rights Council is, in effect, controlled by a non-state entity whose primary focus is demonizing Israel.
A handful of democratic states have nothing to do with the anti-Zionism of the automatic majority. Most democratic states though have become fellow travellers in the corruption of the UN Human Rights Council. Why is this happening?
I was part of a B’nai Brith International delegation to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva the week of March 8th to 13th. Our delegation consisted of 24 different people from 9 countries who met with representatives of 39 states. Everywhere our message to those democratic states who went along with the anti-Israel distortion of the Council was the same: do not contribute to the piling up on Israel. The diplomats in response gave a wide variety of justifications for the behaviour of their governments.
We heard that states speak on the agenda item dedicated to Israel because they need to respect the Council agenda. Yet, an agenda item provides an opportunity to speak, not an obligation to speak.
We heard that the Palestinians in Geneva present their agenda as an alternative to violence in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. Yet, the only way to stop a bully is to stand up to him.
We heard that the Security Council does not address adequately the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. Yet, forum shopping should be discouraged.
We heard that Israel has not been engaged with existing UN mechanisms investigating claims of human rights violations by Israel. Yet, there is good reason for Israeli non-engagement, bias in the mandates of the mechanisms.
We heard that Israel has a much stronger military than the Palestinian Authority and the UN Human Rights Council can help to redress the imbalance. Yet, if one considers the Middle East region or the planet, it is Israel that is the underdog.
We heard that the excessive focus on Israel is not as bad as before. Yet, doing less of something wrong is not the same as stopping wrongful activity.
We heard that the obsession with Israel is the result of the structure of Human Rights Council and that all the democratic states can do is negotiate damage limitation in exchange for support for the negotiated result. Yet, support of democratic states for repugnant resolutions, reports, sessions and mandates is too high a price to pay for making all these devices marginally less awful.
Theodor Herzl argued in his pioneering 1896 pamphlet “The Jewish State” that the advent of the Jewish state “would put an end to antisemitism.” But, just the opposite has happened. The Jewish state has come to be treated like the Jewish people. Israel has become the Jew amongst nations – outcast, defamed and demonized. Nowhere is this more evident than at the UN Human Rights Council.
David Matas is an international human rights lawyer based in Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada. He is senior honorary counsel to B’nai Brith Canada.
Hamas murdered their friend. Now, they help Israeli soldiers to keep his memory alive
By VIRGINIA ALLEN (The Daily Signal) David Newman sent a text to a friend the morning of Saturday, Oct. 7. Something terrible had happened. Word quickly spread among Newman’s group of friends, who had known each other since high school.
Newman, 25, had traveled the night before to the music festival in southern Israel, close to the border with the Gaza Strip. It was supposed to be a fun weekend with his girlfriend “celebrating life,” something Newman, who served with the Israel Defense Forces, was good at and loved to do, friend Gidon Hazony recalls.
When Hazony learned that Newman, his longtime friend, was in danger, he and another friend decided they were “going to go down and try and save him.” Trained as a medic and armed with a handgun and bulletproof vest, Hazony started driving south from Jerusalem.
Hazony and his friend ended up joining with other medical personnel and “treated probably around 50 soldiers and civilians in total that day,” Hazony recalls, but they kept trying to make it south to rescue Newman.
But the two “never made it down to the party, and that’s probably for the best,” Hazony says, “because that area was completely taken over by terrorists. And if we had gone down there, I think we would’ve been killed.”
Hazony later learned that Hamas terrorists had murdered Newman on Oct. 7, but not before Newman had saved nearly 300 lives, including the life of his girlfriend.
When the terrorists began their attack on the music festival, many attendees began running to their cars. But Newman and his girlfriend encountered a police officer who warned them to run the opposite direction because the terrorists were near the vehicles, says David Gani, another friend of Newman’s.
Newman “ran in the opposite direction with his girlfriend and whoever else he could kind of corral with him,” Gani explains during an interview on “The Daily Signal Podcast.”
“They saw two industrial garbage cans, big containers, and so David told everyone, ‘Hide, hide in those containers,’” Gani says. “And so what he did over the course of the next few hours is, he would take people and … he was this big guy, and he would just chuck them in that container. And then he would go in, wait, wait till the coast is clear, and then he’d go back out, find more people, put them in there.”
Newman’s actions that day, and the atrocities Hazony and so many others in Israel witnessed Oct. 7, led Hazony, Gani, and several friends to quit their jobs and set up a nonprofit called Soldiers Save Lives. The organization is working to collect tactical and humanitarian aid for the Israel Defense Forces, or IDF.
According to the group’s website, Soldiers Save Lives has supplied over 20 IDF units and civilian response teams “with protective and self-defense gear.”
Gani, board chairman, chief financial officer, and chief technology officer of Soldiers Save Lives, and Hazony, president of the organization, recently traveled to Washington, D.C., to raise support and awareness for their mission to provide IDF troops with needed supplies.
If you would like to find out more about Soldiers Save Lives or donate to them, go to https://www.soldierssavelives.org/
Reprinted with permission.
Our New Jewish Reality
By HENRY SREBRNIK Since Oct. 7, we Jews have been witnessing an ongoing political and psychological pogrom. True, there have been no deaths (so far), but we’ve seen the very real threat of mobs advocating violence and extensive property damage of Jewish-owned businesses, and all this with little forceful reaction from the authorities.
The very day after the carnage, Canadians awoke to the news that the deadliest day for Jews since the Holocaust had inspired sustained celebrations in its major cities. And they have continued ever since. I’d go so far as to say the Trudeau government has, objectively, been more interested in preventing harm to Gazans than caring about the atrocities against Israelis and their state.
For diaspora Jews, the attacks of Oct. 7 were not distant overseas events and in this country since then they have inspired anti-Semitism, pure and simple, which any Jew can recognize. Even though it happened in Israel, it brought back the centuries-old memories of defenseless Jews being slaughtered in a vicious pogrom by wild anti-Semites.
I think this has shocked, deeply, most Jews, even those completely “secular” and not all that interested in Judaism, Israel or “Zionism.” Jewish parents, especially, now fear for their children in schools and universities. The statements universities are making to Jewish students across the country could not be clearer: We will not protect you, they all but scream. You’re on your own.
But all this has happened before, as we know from Jewish history. Long before Alfred Dreyfus and Theodor Herzl, the 1881 pogroms in tsarist Russia led to an awakening of proto-Zionist activity there, with an emphasis on the land of Israel. There were soon new Jewish settlements in Palestine.
The average Jew in Canada now knows that his or her friend at a university, his co-worker in an office, and the people he or she socializes with, may in fact approve, or at least not disapprove, of what happened that day in Israel. Acquaintances or even close friends may care far more about Israel killing Palestinians in Gaza. Such people may even believe what we may call “Hamas pogrom denial,” already being spread. Many people have now gone so far in accepting the demonization of Israel and Jews that they see no penalty attached to public expressions of Jew-hatred. Indeed, many academics scream their hatred of Israel and Jews as loud as possible.
One example: On Nov. 10, Toronto officers responded to a call at an Indigo bookstore located in the downtown. It had been defaced with red paint splashed on its windows and the sidewalk, and posters plastered to its windows.
The eleven suspects later arrested claimed that Indigo founder Heather Reisman (who is Jewish) was “funding genocide” because of her financial support of the HESEG Foundation for Lone Soldiers, which provides scholarships to foreign nationals who study in Israel after serving in the Israeli armed forces. By this logic, then, most Jewish properties and organizations could be targeted, since the vast majority of Jews are solidly on Israel’s side.
Were these vandals right-wing thugs or people recently arrived from the Middle East? No, those charged were mostly white middle-class professionals. Among them are figures from academia, the legal community, and the public education sector. Four are academics connected to York University (one of them a former chair of the Sociology Department) and a fifth at the University of Toronto; two are elementary school teachers; another a paralegal at a law firm.
Were their students and colleagues dismayed by this behaviour? On the contrary. Some faculty members, staff and students at the university staged a rally in their support. These revelations have triggered discussions about the role and responsibilities of educators, given their influential positions in society.
You’ve heard the term “quiet quitting.” I think many Jews will withdraw from various clubs and organizations and we will begin to see, in a sense like in the 1930s, a reversal of assimilation, at least in the social sphere. (Of course none of this applies to Orthodox Jews, who already live this way.)
Women in various feminist organizations may form their own groups or join already existing Jewish women’s groups. There may be an increase in attendance in K-12 Jewish schools. In universities, “progressive” Jewish students will have to opt out of organizations whose members, including people they considered friends, have been marching to the slogan “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” and similar eliminationist rhetoric, while waving Palestinian flags.
This will mostly affect Jews on the left, who may be supporters of organizations which have become carriers of anti-Semitism, though ostensibly dealing with “human rights,” “social justice,” and even “climate change.”
Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg took part in a demonstration outside the Israeli Embassy in Stockholm on Oct. 22 in which she chanted “crush Zionism” along with hundreds of other anti-Israel protesters. Israel is now unthinkingly condemned as a genocidal apartheid settler-colonialist state, indeed, the single most malevolent country in the world and the root of all evil.
New York Times Columnist Bret Stephens expressed it well in his Nov. 7 article. “Knowing who our friends aren’t isn’t pleasant, particularly after so many Jews have sought to be personal friends and political allies to people and movements that, as we grieved, turned their backs on us. But it’s also clarifying.”
Henry Srebrnik is a professor of political science at the University of Prince Edward Island in Charlottetown.
Former Winnipegger Vivian Silver, at first thought to have been taken hostage, has now been confirmed dead
Former Winnipegger and well-known Israeli peace activist Vivian Silver has now been confirmed as having been killed during the massacre of Israelis and foreign nationals perpetrated by Hamas terrorists on October 7. Vivian, a resident of Kibbutz Be’eri was originally thought to be among the more than 1200 individuals who were taken hostage by Hamas.
To read the full story on the CBC website, go to https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/israel-gaza-vivian-silver-1.7027333