WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 12, 2012, BY HILLEL C. NEUER*:GENEVA - Promoters of the UN’s hypocrisy-ridden Human Rights Council say it’s been reformed. Yet the 47-nation body stooped to a new low today by installing a top official whose life’s work — authoring books on World War II — make Germans the victims and the Allies the war criminals.
Alfred de Zayas made his first appearance this afternoon as the council’s “Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order.” I participated in the debate and took the floor to call him out. Now it is U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice who must act. Click here to send an email urging action.
The post was initiated by Cuba — the same country that interrupted my remarks today — in order to criticize Western countries that “wish to dominate the world with their economic and military models.”
At first glance, De Zayas seems highly qualified. He was born in Havana, grew up in America and graduated from Harvard Law School. He spent 22 years with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, for whom he continues to freelance in his Geneva retirement.
But a closer glance at De Zayas’ writings — his website has everything, including the minutiae of his daily activities — raises troubling questions.
De Zayas is not a Holocaust denier. But he is a hero to them. His publications and lectures are promoted on websites such as “Committee for Open Debate on the Holocaust.” It’s easy to see why.
One of his key themes is that hardly any Germans knew what was happening to their Jewish compatriots.
In 1996, when historian Daniel Jonah Goldhagen published “Hitler’s Willing Executioners,” documenting the complicity of the broader German population, De Zayas responded that Germans could not have been anti-Semites because there were “many German Jews in Bismarck’s circle,” and “many mixed marriages.”
Rather, he said, it was Goldhagen who was “racist.”
And, he argued, just as Americans never assumed their government would kill the Japanese-Americans sent to internment camps, Germans had no reason to imagine the Nazis would do such things to Jews.De Zayas pressed Germans in Canada to prosecute Goldhagen’s book distributors on charges of “hate literature,” and advised them how to win at a UN human rights tribunal for which he then worked. Referring to a Canadian revisionist, De Zayas boasted in an email to supporters that “Jim Bacque and I even visited a lawyer in Toronto to suggest this procedure.”
He urged Germans in the U.S. to do like the Jewish community, which he said contributes millions of dollars to “the Lobby.”
His books’ other focus concerns the suffering of Germans during and especially after the war, in population transfers that he said cost over two million Germans their lives.
While uncovering unpleasant truths is worthy, De Zayas’ accusations against the Allies are invariably overstated, while Nazi atrocities are minimized:
- Churchill and Roosevelt connived at “a form of genocide” against the Germans.
- Because the Allies weren’t prosecuted for their “barbarous” and “gruesome” crimes, the Nuremberg Court that judged Nazi war criminals has “hardly any legitimacy.”
- Proposals for dealing with Germany by Henry Morgenthau, Roosevelt’s Jewish cabinet member, were “racist” and “inhuman.”
- Calling the Holocaust unique can negate the suffering of others, such as expelled Germans, “tantamount to a serious violation of their human rights.”
Scholars criticize his work as shoddy and revisionist. According to a 1993 German Studies Review article, De Zayas “makes no attempt to integrate his work with that of existing historiography on World War II, Nazi Germany or war crimes in general.”
But Cuba and its gang chose De Zayas not for his history, but current politics.
As a Third Worlder, he’s unlikely to criticize any of the countries who supported his mandate, including Bangladesh, China, Cuba, Ecuador, Jordan, Kuwait, Malaysia, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Uganda.
Second, they can rely on De Zayas to dutifully attack the U.S., whom he recently accused of “responsibility for the destabilization of the situation of countries in the Middle East.”
Third, De Zayas hates the Jewish state. Israel, he says, “emerged out of terrorism against the indigenous population,” remains “privileged on the international scene” and its representatives should be denied UN accreditation.
When it comes to Nazi Germany, he focuses on the suffering of its citizens without any historical perspective. For Israelis, it’s the exact opposite.
“It is imperative to keep the conflict in Gaza in historical perspective. Here the oppressor is Israel and the oppressed are the Palestinians.”A top source for De Zayas is Norman Finkelstein, author of “The Holocaust Industry” and a leading anti-Israel activist. De Zayas endorsed Finkelstein’s bid for tenure and compared him to Socrates.
Today, as this detractor of Western democracies is now armed with a global U.N. podium, we should ask:
Why did the British delegate on the selection committee join the jackals in unanimously endorsing him? Obviously Havana pressed hard for their candidate, but London had the moral duty to object.
And when will U.S. Ambassador Rice speak out, and demand that this wolf in sheep’s clothing be fired?
*Hillel Neuer is executive director of UN Watch in Geneva