Infernal Ramblings
A Malaysian Perspective on Politics, Society and Economics

Israel and the United Nations Human Rights Council

Written by johnleemk on 11:20:27 am Apr 4, 2007.

I was recently informed of the existence of a particular video. This video, showing Hillel Neuer of the UN Watch organisation criticising the performance of the UN HRC, has been one of the most controversial in the blogosphere as of late. The scandal it has evoked can be shown in the fact that the President of the HRC had Neuer's remarks stricken from the official record. Fortunately, a video of his statement remains in circulation:

Before we address the substance of Neuer's remarks, let's turn to their source: UN Watch. Anti-Israel critics love to dig up dirt on people who come out against any pro-Palestinian stand, so I suppose I should join their ranks, if only briefly, before discredting them altogether.

Neuer is a rather Jewish name, but only an amateur would stop there. The fact is, UN Watch was founded by the American Jewish Committee, and at least one of the organisation's committee members hails from this same American Jewish Committee. It's hardly an organisation that I would call fair, unbiased, or impartial.

But at the same time, most organisations I've seen that come out against Israel or for Palestine are hardly neutral. There are a few bodies that have tried to take a wishy-washy neutral stand, such as the UN, and that have thus been vilified by both sides.

After all, depending on who you ask, the UN is either virulently pro-Israel, or vehemently set on Israel's destruction. If we want to evaluate the UN's performance when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, though, it seems obvious that as just about anyone we ask will be an interested party, the only thing we can rely on is our own judgment.

Having said that, it seems to me that Neuer's statement, in reality, has little to do with Israel or Palestine. He argues strongly that Israel and Palestine have been favourite targets of the HRC. This may or may not be true, but it is irrelevant.

The fact is, Neuer's statements are criticising the HRC for ignoring real human rights crises, such as the oppression of the Tibetans by China, or the massacre and rape that has been ongoing in Darfur. The international community has cried out terribly against Israel's crimes (whether these crimes are truly crimes, of course, depends on your individual viewpoint), but they have been largely silent on other abrogations of human rights.

Neuer may have some hidden objective in his actions. He may be seeking to get the international community to ignore Israel's alleged transgressions of international law. But his motives are irrelevant.

What's relevant is that he's right — the HRC, the UN, and the international community, have done virtually nothing meaningful about the major human rights crises of our time, with the exception of Israel. This hypocrisy cannot, and should not, continue. It is not fair to anyone if we stand up for the rights of Palestinians, but remain silent as people are slaughtered in violation of basic human rights.

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