This article currently appears in iol.co.za https://www.iol.co.za/opinion/letters/the-unhrcs-obsession-with-israel-fuels-conflict-81c441c9-6ac8-4d1d-acf5-4399c15b2e2e
OPINION – There is an inordinate amount of conflict and upheaval in the world. Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine razes cities to the ground and leaves a devastating trail of human rights violations, Christian communities in Nigeria are persecuted, Uighur Muslims in China are rounded up into concentration camps and have been ethnically cleansed and so many, others.
The United Nations Human Rights Council whose mandate it is to “protect human rights for all’ yet currently has Venezuela, Sudan, Libya and Mauritania amongst its council members and who have their own dubious human rights records, approved a “Commission of Inquiry” to investigate Israel and the Palestinian territories after last year’s 11 day flare up between Israel and Hamas, the internationally recognized terror entity that controls the Gaza strip.
The Commission of Inquiry was headed by Navi Pillay, a known anti-Israel agitator who has in the past endorsed the BDS movement which calls for the end of the State of Israel, applauded Iran for signing the 2001 anti-Israel UN declaration and has been proven to have personal ties with members of the PFLP, which is on the international terror list. It is no wonder Israel refused to cooperate with such an inquiry.
Add to that the preposterous op-ed written by Humairaa Mayet, titled “‘Israel has no intention of ending its occupation of Palestine’.
Mayet has forgotten a few facts including the origins of last year’s Operation Guardians of the Wall which saw Hamas fire the first shot by firing rockets towards Jerusalem. This was followed by over 4 300 rockets and projectiles, fired from civilian enclaves in Gaza towards sovereign Israeli territory – which also includes citizens. Israel has the right, as does every country, to defend her citizens. A vast percentage of those rockets fired fell short in the Gaza strip, killing and injuring many civilians.
The Commission of Inquiry managed to gives as little reference to the incitement of hate and acts of terror perpetrated by Hamas and other Iranian sponsored terror entities in the Gaza strip as possible.
Mayet, cites the international communities response to the inquiry but forgets that now 23 countries, spearheaded by the United States and includes countries as diverse as Israel, Austria, the Netherlands, Bulgaria, Hungary, Eswatini, Brazil, Cameroon, Micronesia, Canada, United Kingdom, Togo, Colombia, Guatemala, Croatia, Liberia, Marshall Island, Nauru, North Macedonia and Palau denounced the Commission of Inquiry.
They were joined the next day by Australia who slammed the UNHRC’s “disproportionate focus on Israel and the Commission of Inquiry that does not serve the cause of peace”. There was an encouraging presence of African countries who also grow weary of having to take side when they could benefit from what Israel has to offer and play a concrete role as African Union members towards brokering a resolution to the conflict – a role which sadly South Africa who also harbours an unproductive obsession with the Jewish state, has forfeited.
The Commission of Inquiry was endorsed by North Korea though – and the Palestinian representative who called for the USA to be kicked off the UNHRC. It would be comical if it wasn’t so serious because some people still believe in the veracity of such an organization.
Mayet cites the Amnesty International report, another document that has been routinely dismissed by democracies concerned not only with its biased and unsubstantiated content; but that it could further fuel rising antisemitism.
French President, Emmanuel Macron, stated it was preposterous to call Israel, a country with Arab lawmakers and ministers serving in its parliament (something that would not have occurred in South Africa) an apartheid state. This past week, a UK based independent inquiry found Amnesty International UK, where the report originated from as guilty of “institutionalized racism and colonialist”. Hardly a ringing endorsement for this once venerated organization.
Human Rights Watch has been similarly discredited by its late founder, Robert Bernstein, who in an impassioned op-ed in the New York Times in 2009 raised the alarm that the organization was not upholding its mandate but rather headed into dangerous waters:
“As the founder of Human Rights Watch, its active chairman for 20 years and now founding chairman emeritus, I must do something that I never anticipated: I must publicly join the group’s critics. Human Rights Watch had as its original mission to pry open closed societies, advocate basic freedoms and support dissenters. But recently it has been issuing reports on the Israeli-Arab conflict that are helping those who wish to turn Israel into a pariah state,” wrote Bernstein.
Omar Shakir, the former director of HRW Israel-Palestine, was booted out of the country in 2019 for BDS activities that contravened Israel’s laws. He has now dedicated his energy and time to publishing reports accusing the Jewish State of war crimes during the May conflagration and a separate one accusing the country of practices of Apartheid – while scarcely a mention about any transgressions from Hamas or the Palestinian Authority. Shakir even went so far as to totally redefine the term Apartheid to push his agenda.
Other accusations made by Mayet in the above mentioned op-ed are too ludicrous to even countenance.
In the interest of fairness and peace, it is not just Israel that should be found guilty of perpetuating an “occupation” or failing to ensure that there is a solution to the decade’s long and very complicated conflict; but also the Palestinians, the UNHRC, its commission and people like Mayet who perpetuate divisions and dangerous agenda with their farcical accusations.
Rolene Marks is the South African Zionist Federation Spokesperson