Foreign Affairs

The U.N.’s Anti-Israel Crusade Continues

The United Nations has come up with yet another spectacularly biased report, this time 575 pages long, accusing Israel of “war crimes” in Gaza and “possibly crimes against humanity”. The document also (far less forcefully) criticizes Palestinian rocket and mortar attacks against Israel, but the overwhelming emphasis is on Israel’s actions. In effect, the U.N. establishes a dubious moral equivalence between the legitimate defensive measures of the Israeli security forces and the terrorist activities of groups such as Hamas who are deliberately targeting civilians.

This should come as no surprise considering the report is produced by the discredited U.N. Human Rights Council (HRC), which has adopted no less than 26 resolutions criticizing Israel since the council was founded in 2006. The HRC includes in its membership some of the world’s biggest human rights violators, including China, Cuba, Russia, and Saudi Arabia.

The Council, which has just been joined by the United States, was responsible for organizing the anti-Semitic hate fest known as the Durban II World Conference Against Racism, held in Geneva in April. The U.N. circus was eventually boycotted by several European countries after Iranian tyrant Mahmoud Ahmadinejad launched into a sickening tirade against Jews and Israel. Even the dictator-friendly Obama administration stayed away altogether, a sign of just how bad it was.

The U.N,. report is the product of a fact-finding mission to Gaza led by the eminent South African judge Richard J. Goldstone, former Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. It is disappointing that a figure of Goldstone’s stature has put his name on a report commissioned by a body with a clear track record of persecuting Israel. It is even more disturbing that his panel of experts was far from neutral before it launched its inquiry.

The U.N.’s Gaza mission included Hina Jilani, Advocate of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, a country which does not even have formal relations with Israel. Jilani previously served as the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions, and was a member of a 2004 U.N. panel of experts that controversially condemned Israel for its treatment of demonstrators in the Rafah refugee camp. One of her two co-authors on that report was Asma Jahangir, now the U.N.’s Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, who famously called in 2002 for an investigation into the supposed Israeli Defense Force “summary execution” of Palestinian refugees at the Jenin camp. The U.N.’s own inquiry subsequently concluded that no such massacre had taken place.  

As the respected NGO U.N. Watch first reported, the Goldstone panel also included London School of Economics Professor Christine Chinkin, an academic with very strong opinions on Israeli actions in Gaza. Chinkin signed on to a letter to The Sunday Times of London by 27 academics in January accusing Israel of a “war crime” in its offensive on Gaza. Here’s an excerpt from the letter, entitled “Israel’s bombardment of Gaza is not self-defence — it’s a war crime”:

“ISRAEL has sought to justify its military attacks on Gaza by stating that it amounts to an act of “self-defence” as recognized by Article 51, United Nations Charter. We categorically reject this contention.

The rocket attacks on Israel by Hamas deplorable as they are, do not, in terms of scale and effect amount to an armed attack entitling Israel to rely on self-defence. Under international law self-defence is an act of last resort and is subject to the customary rules of proportionality and necessity.”

One of Chinkin’s co-signers on the Times letter was none other than Richard Falk, Emeritus Milbank Professor of International Law at Princeton and outspoken critic of Israel, who was appointed last year as the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories. Falk has compared Israel to Nazi Germany and has accused the Israelis of genocide. In his now infamous 2007 polemic “Slouching toward a Palestinian Holocaust,” Falk, the U.N.’s chief Gaza expert, wrote of “a Palestinian holocaust in the making”:

“Is it an irresponsible overstatement to associate the treatment of Palestinians with this criminalized Nazi record of collective atrocity? I think not. The recent developments in Gaza are especially disturbing because they express so vividly a deliberate intention on the part of Israel and its allies to subject an entire human community to life-endangering conditions of utmost cruelty. The suggestion that this pattern of conduct is a holocaust-in-the-making represents a rather desperate appeal to the governments of the world and to international public opinion to act urgently to prevent these current genocidal tendencies from culminating in a collective tragedy. If ever the ethos of ‘a responsibility to protect,’ recently adopted by the UN Security Council  as the basis of ‘humanitarian intervention’ is applicable, it would be to act now to start protecting the people of Gaza from further pain and suffering.”

It beggars belief that the United Nations is claiming that its Gaza report is an objective assessment of Israeli operations when it appoints a professor — Christine Chinkin — who has already publicly stated that Israel’s actions amounted to “war crimes”, and when its chief Rapporteur on the Palestinian territories, Richard Falk, is a figure with extreme anti-Israeli views. With good reason, 50 British and Canadian lawyers challenged the presence of Chinkin on the U.N. panel, arguing that she could not be considered impartial.

This is yet another example of the U.N. publishing a supposedly neutral report written by a panel of “experts” that includes key members who have already reached their own conclusions well before the investigation has even begun. The United Nations receives more than $5 billion a year from U.S. taxpayers, whose money is all too often squandered on highly politicized projects targeting close American allies such as Israel.

In light of this latest hatchet job from the U.N., President Obama should reconsider his foolish decision to join the Human Rights Council and ensure that American interests are defended not undermined. The White House and State Department should also heed the advice of my colleagues Brett Schaefer and Steven Groves who call for the establishment of an alternative body to the Human Rights Council outside of the United Nations, in a new book Conundrum: the Limits of the United Nations and the Search for Alternatives. As the book’s authors point out, when it comes to defending the cause of liberty and freedom on the world stage, the UN simply doesn’t have a leg to stand on.

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