Friday, December 19, 2008

Durban Round 2


While Jews, including a Chabad rabbi and his pregnant wife, were being slaughtered by terrorists in Mumbai, the United Nations was busy preparing more anti-Israel resolutions and using US tax dollars to plan "Durban 2." Will the world tolerate another internationally sanctioned attack on Jews and Israel? Unless something serious is done immediately, it appears that it will.

Indeed, this past year alone the UN General Assembly adopted 14 resolutions specifically criticizing Israel, and seven more expressing support for the Palestinian people vis-à-vis its relations with Israel. All together, the 21 resolutions addressing alleged Israeli violations and obligations stretched to 61 pages of text, compared with only 20 pages for resolutions critical of other countries - including Sudan, Iran, Syria and other nations with massive human rights abuses.

The 2001 UN Durban Review Conference was an eight-day platform for attacks against the State of Israel. At the conference, driven primarily by nongovernmental organizations in close cooperation with Iran and other Islamic regimes, Israel was repeatedly singled out and internationally isolated as the participants equated Zionism with racism and derided Israel's attempts to defend itself as war crimes.

Anti-Semitic cartoons and books such as The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and Hitler's Mein Kampf were circulated. Protesters shouted "Death to the Jews" and accused Israel of committing holocausts. The NGO final declaration accused Israel of apartheid and ethnic cleansings, called for the total isolation of Israel through sanctions and made threats against countries that support Israel.

Durban 1 may have been the largest anti-Semitic and anti-Israel meeting of the 21st century. Now get ready for Round 2.

EIGHT YEARS later, on April 20, the UN will once again convene the Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, this time at its European headquarters in Geneva. So far, the conference promises to be nothing more than a dangerous reprisal of the 2001 debacle - a broad campaign to demonize Israel while ignoring racist and discriminatory acts by UN members such as Sudan, Iran and China. And since America pays for at least 20 percent of the UN's budget, this will be our tax dollars at work.

Regional conferences show the same lopsided tendency as they set the stage for another UN-backed bashing of Israel. That should come as no surprise given that the Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) is being led by Libya, one of the 20 committee members. Others include Iran, Egypt, Pakistan and Cuba, all of which have an interest in distracting attention from their own human rights records.

Further: At a PrepCom meeting in May 2008, a UN working group released a document expressing "concern about the plight of the Palestinian people under foreign occupation." At the same meeting, the PrepCom accredited the Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign for the NGO forum accompanying the conference but rejected the Canadian Council for Israel and Jewish Advocacy.

In late October, the UN Human Rights Council, which facilitates the PrepCom and is hosting the conference - released a draft document containing no fewer than nine paragraphs condemning Israel as guilty of apartheid, accusing it of crimes against humanity and genocide and once again impugning Zionism as racist by referring to a "racially based law of return." The representatives of various Arab and Muslim states already have stated their support for these passages and recommended additional condemnations.

In August, the African Regional Conference issued a declaration mentioning the "plight of the Palestinian people" while ignoring the genocide in Sudan.

Already, a number of Western governments and international organizations including ours are preparing for more of the same. Canada and Israel plan to stay away from the conference altogether; the US vowed not to participate without proof that the conference will not become another internationally sanctioned assault against Jews and Israel. France's President Nicolas Sarkozy said earlier this year that his country will withdraw from the conference unless certain demands are met.

With enough blood spilled, it isn't too late for world powers and leaders of the future to take an affirmative stand - this time in support of Israel's right to live in security and peace.

Monday, December 15, 2008


From the San Francisco Chronicle, December 14, 2008, by Joel Brinkley, professor of journalism at Stanford University and a former foreign policy correspondent for the New York Times:

Millions of Americans believe the Sept. 11 attacks were ...a conspiracy planned and executed by the Bush administration. Why? ...the attacks provided President Bush and his aides the pretext to launch international wars and to enact policies that "led to widespread denials of rights under the pretext of homeland security."

So writes Richard Falk, a professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University -- and also a special representative of the U.N. Human Rights Council, who is charged with investigating Israeli abuses against the Palestinians...

What does this have to do with Israel and the Palestinians? Nothing, really -- except that the U.N. monitors who already view Falk with grave distrust are now throwing up his advocacy of the 9/11 conspiracy theory as further evidence that he is not qualified to serve as an important U.N. envoy. (The Islamic nations chose Falk for the position early this year in large part because he once compared Israel to Nazi Germany.)

Of course, Falk's supporters on the council -- Egypt, Pakistan and other members of the Islamic conference -- are not bothered by any of this. That should be no surprise. If the Bush administration actually perpetrated the Sept. 11 attacks, then the world's distrust of Islam would be largely unfounded.

...last month an organization called UN Watch published an angry press release attacking Falk for publishing an article in a Scottish newspaper, entitled, "9/11, More Than Meets the Eye." In it, Falk does not say flatly that the theories are correct -- just that they warrant further investigation. Still, Hillel Neuer, director of UN Watch, wrote: "The very credibility of the U.N. mission to preserve international peace is at stake."

I talked with Neuer, and with Falk. In any conversation about Falk, Neuer's fundamental concern is on a different plane. The Human Rights Council, he notes, has fired its special representatives for Cuba, Liberia, Uzbekistan -- even Congo. But one state has a permanent monitor not subject to debate or renewal. That is Israel, and Falk holds that position. "He has a very serious mandate," Neuer said. "People who question whether 9/11 happened are not serious people. No one in the United States or the West could be in positions of authority if they engaged in 9/11 conspiracy talk."

...The Human Rights Council is already an embarrassment to the United Nations. Certainly reasonable people can criticize Israel, just as they can find fault with the Palestinians. But the council's pathological obsession with Israel is its defining characteristic, and Falk is its embodiment.

I wouldn't have cared that an academic wrote the foreword several years ago for a book that is the conspiracy advocates' bible. But I do care that the man whose job now is to help the Islamic states pursue their vendetta against Israel also believes that the U.S. government is capable of such unspeakable evil. What does that tell you about his frame of mind for his United Nations job?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

On eve of primary, anger grows against Livni in Kadima

From THE JERUSALEM POST Dec. 14, 2008, by Gil Hoffman:

Kadima will choose its Knesset list on Wednesday amid growing anger in the party over Kadima leader Tzipi Livni's failure narrow the gap in the polls between the two parties.

Likud chairman Binyamin Netanyahu succeeded in getting his nemesis, Moshe Feiglin, demoted to the 36th slot on the party's list last Thursday, but there is still a chance he could return to the 20th slot in which he was initially placed, due to appeals filed by former Likud MKs Michael Ratzon and Ehud Yatom, who were demoted along with Feiglin for technical reasons.

Kadima officials had hoped that Kadima would grow in support due to the placement on the Likud list of Feiglin and former Likud rebel MKs. They also hoped that Netanyahu's obsessive behavior against Feiglin would cause him to lose support.

But polls sponsored by three Hebrew dailies found that the Likud had lost no more than two seats and might have even gained a seat. They also found that Labor had gained seats following its primary at Kadima's expense.

The most damaging poll for Livni was Shvakim Panorama's, which was broadcast on Israel Radio Thursday. The poll predicted that Likud would win 34-35 seats, Kadima 20-21 and Labor, which until last week was in single digits, 14-15.

Livni's advisers said there was still plenty of time ahead of the February 10 election. ...But Livni's critics in Kadima said that the more Livni spoke publicly, the more the party would fall in the polls. They pointed to two controversial statements she made Thursday to Tel Aviv high school students that even people close to her in the party admitted made them feel uncomfortable.

Livni told the students regarding kidnapped soldier Gilad Schalit that "we all want Gilad to come home, but there is always the risk of minimum casualties and it isn't always possible to bring everyone home."

Regarding Israeli Arabs she said, "I will also be able to approach the Palestinian residents of Israel, those whom we call Israeli Arabs, and tell them, 'Your national solution lies elsewhere.'"
While some in the party called such statements "undisciplined" for a candidate, her advisers said they were "prime ministerial," because they proved that she was "a different kind of leader who always tells the truth, and always says things as they are, and that's why people trust her."

...Additional anger was expressed at Livni in Kadima by candidates who were hoping for her support but have been disappointed that she has not campaigned on their behalf. Privately, MKs who supported her in the Kadima leadership race said they were upset that their endorsements had not been reciprocated.

Knesset candidates who supported Livni's rival in the leadership race, Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz, expressed similar anger over the weekend at him for not working on their behalf ahead of the primary. Others were annoyed to find themselves left out of lists of candidates who Mofaz supported in the race that were leaked over the weekend.

Mofaz's list includes ministers Ze'ev Boim and Ruhama Avraham, MKs Ronit Tirosh, Shai Hermesh, Otniel Schneller and David Tal, and activists Yuval Zellner, Avner Barzani, Roni Ben-Hamo, Avi Duen and Akram Hason. Livni's associates denied reports that she was concerned Mofaz would succeed in electing a faction within Kadima that could later split from the party and join Likud.

...Defense Minister and Labor leader Ehud Barak sharply criticized Livni on Saturday for suggesting that it may not be possible to bring Schalit home. ..."I'm not too sure that I understand [Livni's] statement," Barak said. "I have buried many soldiers who were killed and did not return. We have the highest responsibility to return a soldier who is alive and in captivity through all suitable and possible methods, but not at any price.

Even Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi felt the need to respond to Livni's remarks, declaring that Schalit was on Israel's agenda every day. "Vast resources are being invested in this matter," Ashkenazi said at a meeting with Beduin and Druse leaders for Id al-Adha on Friday. "I am hopeful that we will succeed in returning Gilad home to his family as quickly as possible."

Livni's comments also enraged activists pushing for Schalit's release....

UK Academics have "abandoned" Israeli boycott

From The Guardian, Wednesday 10 December 2008, by Donald MacLeod:

The UK lecturers' union has abandoned attempts to boycott Israeli universities after years of international controversy....

In the face of legal threats, the leadership of the University and College Union has quietly dropped plans to implement a conference motion that instructed members to "consider the moral and political implications of educational links with Israeli institutions, and to discuss the occupation with individuals and institutions concerned, including Israeli colleagues".

The union was asked to "widely disseminate" testimony from Palestinians and union delegations to Palestine. This too was shelved by the national executive at a meeting last month.
The union's director of legal services, Michael Scott, has written to lawyers representing opponents of the motion, refusing to repudiate the motion itself but clarifying what action the union will take to implement it.

Any mention of the proposal to discuss the occupation with Israeli colleagues, or consider the moral implications of links with Israel, has been dropped.

Instead, the union will issue guidance to branches about twinning with universities in Zimbabwe and Burma, as well as Gaza and the West Bank; commissioning an independent report on academic freedom; and ensuring expenditure on the motion is within the budget for international work.

...In 2007, a motion openly calling for a boycott was passed but was subsequently overturned at a special conference - though not before it had caused an international row that opponents claimed damaged the reputation of British academia.

In response to this year's motion, a group of 12 members threatened to sue the union, arguing that it amounted to a boycott in all but name and was illegal discrimination contrary to the UCU's own rules.

Prof Michael Yudkin, the group's spokesman, said today: "It is clear that the union has backed down, but they don't want to say it in so many words. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to see the difference between what was said in May at the congress and what the NEC decided to do. In effect, it means they are dropping the boycott."

In view of the decision by the union's national executive, his group was dropping its legal action but would sue in the event of any fresh attempt to bring in a boycott, said Yudkin, emeritus professor of biochemistry at Oxford.

"We are not talking about freedom of speech but proposals to discriminate unlawfully against a group of individuals," he added. A boycott against Burmese universities in protest at the military regime there would be equally illegal and abhorrent, he argued.

The UCU's general secretary, Sally Hunt, insisted the union's position had not changed... "Because of the constant misreporting of the motions considered by UCU's congress, I feel I have to state that we have passed a motion to provide solidarity with the Palestinians, not to boycott Israel or any other country's academic institutions. Implementation of the motion within the law will now fall to the national executive committee."

Anthony Julius, of solicitors Mishcon de Reya which represents the opponents, responded to the union today saying: "The NEC is not implementing the motion … Just as motion 25 was a boycott motion without the use of the word, so the NEC's 'implementation' is a repudiation of it, without use of that word."

Although efforts to boycott Israel appear to have been curtailed, intense argument will continue among UK academics...