Friday, May 07, 2010

The conflict will end only when the Palestinians give up on their genocidal hopes

From a review of "Palestine Betrayed" [by Efraim Karsh, Yale, 336 pp], in the National Review, May 17, 2010 edition, by Daniel Pipes:

Nakba, the Arabic word for "catastrophe," has entered the English language in reference to the Arab–Israeli conflict. As defined by the anti-Israel website The Electronic Intifada, Nakba means "the expulsion and dispossession of hundreds of thousands [of] Palestinians from their homes and land in 1948."

...The Nakba ideology presents Palestinians as victims without choices and therefore without responsibility for the ills that befell them. It blames Israel alone for the Palestinian-refugee problem....
...In his new tour de force, Palestine Betrayed, Efraim Karsh of the University of London offers [historical accuracy]. With his customary in-depth archival research  ...Karsh argues the opposite case: that Palestinians decided their own destiny and bear near-total responsibility for becoming refugees.

In Karsh's words: "Far from being the hapless victims of a predatory Zionist assault, it was Palestinian Arab leaders who, from the early 1920s onward, and very much against the wishes of their own constituents, launched a relentless campaign to obliterate the Jewish national revival which culminated in the violent attempt to abort the U.N. partition resolution." More broadly, he observes, "there was nothing inevitable about the Palestinian–Jewish confrontation, let alone the Arab–Israeli conflict."

Yet more counterintuitively, Karsh shows that his understanding was the conventional, indeed the undisputed interpretation in the late 1940s. Only with the passage of time did "Palestinians and their Western supporters gradually rewr[i]te their national narrative," thereby making Israel into the unique culprit, the one excoriated in the United Nations, university classrooms, and editorials.

Karsh successfully makes his case by establishing two main points: that
(1) the Jewish-Zionist-Israeli side perpetually sought to find a compromise while the Palestinian-Arab-Muslim side rejected nearly all deals; and
(2) Arab intransigence and violence caused the self-inflicted "catastrophe."

The first point is more familiar, especially since the Oslo Accords of 1993, for it remains today's pattern. Karsh demonstrates a consistency of Jewish goodwill and Arab rejectionism going back to the Balfour Declaration and persisting throughout the period of British rule. (To remind, the Balfour Declaration of 1917 expressed London's intention to establish in Palestine a "national home for the Jewish people," and the British conquest of Palestine just 37 days later gave it control of Palestine until 1948.)

In the first years after 1917, Arab reaction was muted, as leaders and masses alike recognized the benefits of the dynamic Zionist enterprise that helped revive a backward, poor, and sparsely populated Palestine. Then emerged, with British facilitation, the noxious figure who would dominate Palestinian politics over the next three decades, Amin al-Husseini. From about 1921 on, Karsh documents, Zionists and Palestinians had many choices to make; while the former invariably opted for compromise, the latter relentlessly decided on extermination.

In various capacities — mufti, head of Islamic and political organizations, Hitler ally, hero of the Arab masses — Husseini drove his constituents to what Karsh calls "a relentless collision course with the Zionist movement." Hating Jews so maniacally that he went on to join the Nazi genocide machine, Husseini refused to accept their presence in any numbers in Palestine, much less any form of Zionist sovereignty.

From the early 1920s, then, one witnessed a pattern still in place and familiar today: Zionist accommodation, "painful concessions," and constructive efforts to bridge differences, met by Palestinian anti-Semitism, rejectionism, and violence.

Complementing this binary dramatis personae, and complicating its stark contrast, stood the generally more accommodating Palestinian masses, the disgracefully anti-Semitic British mandatory authority, a Jordanian king eager to rule the Jews as subjects, feckless Arab state leaders, and an erratic American government.

Despite the radicalization of Palestinian opinion by the mufti and despite the Nazi rise to power, Zionists kept seeking an accommodation. It took some years, but the mufti's zero-sum policy and eliminationism eventually convinced reluctant Labor leaders, including David Ben-Gurion, that good works would not facilitate their dream of acceptance. Still, despite repeated failures, they continued the search for a moderate Arab partner with whom to strike a deal.

In contrast, Ze'ev Jabotinsky, the forerunner of today's Likud party, already in 1923 understood that "there is not even the slightest hope of ever obtaining the agreement of the Arabs of the Land of Israel to 'Palestine' becoming a country with a Jewish majority." Yet even he rejected the idea of expelling Arabs and insisted on their full enfranchisement in a future Jewish state.

This dialectic culminated in November 1947, when the United Nations passed a partition plan that nowadays would be termed a two-state solution. In other words, it handed the Palestinians a state on a silver platter. Zionists rejoiced but Palestinian leaders, foremost the malign Husseini, sourly rejected any solution that endorsed Jewish autonomy. They insisted on everything and so got nothing. Had they accepted the U.N. plan, Palestine would be celebrating its 62nd anniversary this May. And there would have been no Nakba.

The most original part of Palestine Betrayed is the half that contains a detailed review of the flight of Muslims and Christians from Palestine in the years 1947–49. Here Karsh's archival research comes into its own, allowing him to present a uniquely rich picture of the specific circumstances of Arab flight. He goes one by one through the various Arab population centers — Qastel, Deir Yassin, Tiberias, Haifa, Jaffa, Jerusalem, Safad — and then takes a close look at the villages.

...In only one case (Lydda) did Israeli troops push Arabs out. The singularity of this event bears emphasis. Karsh explains about the entire first phase of fighting: "None of the 170,000–180,000 Arabs fleeing urban centers, and only a handful of the 130,000–160,000 villagers who left their homes, had been forced out by Jews."

...In sum, Karsh explains, "it was the actions of the Arab leaders that condemned hundreds of thousands of Palestinians to exile."

In this book, Karsh establishes two momentous facts:
  • that Arabs aborted the Palestinian state and
  • that they caused the Nakba.
...Palestine Betrayed reframes today's Arab–Israeli debate by putting it into its proper historical context. Proving that for 90 years the Palestinian political elite has opted to reject "the Jewish national revival and [insisted on] the need for its violent destruction," Karsh correctly concludes that the conflict will end only when the Palestinians give up on their "genocidal hopes."

Jewish "Academic" Agitators to Watch

From Ynet News, 6 May 2010, byYitzhak Benhorin:

... Boston Science Museum's  ...week-long exhibit surveying ground-breaking Israeli innovations and inventions in the fields of clean energy, medicine, and technology ...known as Israel Innovation Week (IIW) ...opened ...on Sunday with an event attended by many members of the city's heavy-hitting academic community. Many were also invited to speak alongside Israeli experts.

The exhibit included displays on Better Place, an Israeli company responsible for manufacturing electric vehicles and displays presented by the Foreign Ministry detailing its agricultural aid programs offered to developing countries.

However, this display of Israeli pride was received with little enthusiasm among some members of the academia, including Jewish linguist Noam Chomsky, and faculty members hailing from Israeli institutes of higher education – Dr. Kobi Snitz from the Weizmann Institute of Science, Prof. Rachel Giora and Dr. Anat Matar, both from Tel Aviv University.

"IIW is far from an innocent educational endeavor. It is part of a propaganda campaign by the State of Israel to present itself as a beacon of progress in a desert of backwardness and deflect attention from its atrocious human rights record and fundamentally discriminatory policies," [their] letter claimed.

The letter protested the show of Israeli technology in part because it is, according to the signatories, inseparable from what they call Israel's aggression.

For instance, they labeled the Technion, a source of many of Israel's technological innovations, "an institution with a long track record of developing technologies of death used by Israel’s military. These include remote-controlled bulldozers for demolishing Palestinian homes and drones for picking off Palestinians from the air."

...The Consul General of Israel to New England Nadav Tamir responded to the letter: "From our perspective, this is proof of the event's success and the importance of such an exhibit in a location so central to science and technology."

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Vile little "play"revives an ancient hatred and pollutes our environment

From a critique of "Seven Jewish Children", a play by Caryl Churchill, in The Wall Street Journal, 31 March, 2009, by Bret Stephens:

...Ms. Churchill's short play unfolds over seven scenes, beginning, dimly, sometime during the Holocaust and concluding, sharply, with Israel's war with Hamas. Characters appear as parents or older relatives of an offstage child, and the dialogue revolves around what the girl should or should not know about her political circumstances as they unfold over the decades.

So, for the first scene we have the line, "Don't tell her they'll kill her" -- the "they" presumably referring to Nazis. Yet by the final scene the tables have turned. Now it's the Jews who behave like Nazis: "Tell her," says one of the play's Zionist elders, "I wouldn't care if we wiped them out . . . tell her we're better haters, tell her we're chosen people, tell her I look at one of their children covered in blood and what do I feel? Tell her all I feel is happy it's not her." (My emphases.)

Just what is this supposed to mean? Michael Billington of the Guardian grasped Ms. Churchill's point when he wrote that the play captured "the transition that has overtaken Israel, to the point where security has become the pretext for indiscriminate slaughter." Ms. Churchill herself has written that she "wanted [the play] in some small way to reflect the shock and enormity of what happened in Gaza. I think it does that relatively mildly." (My emphasis again.)

All this makes perfect sense -- provided you're willing to reduce the Arab-Israeli conflict to caricature, magnify it to the exclusion of all others, assign blame (and moral agency) wholly to one side, and suppose that Israelis use the memory of the Holocaust cynically or neurotically as an alibi for gratuitous and wanton bloodletting.

In other words, if you're prepared to manipulate history as dishonestly as our vile little "play" about black America does, then it's easy to draw a damning moral. And if you're clever enough to cast the indictment as a story about some blacks or some Jews, or as one of generational decadence, then you might also acquit yourself of charges of racism or anti-Semitism, since you can point to a few Jews or blacks worthy of your considered respect.

Of course Ms. Churchill does just that, even as she mocks Jewish claims to statehood ("Tell her her great great great great lots of greats grandad lived there"). Of course she cites the authority of Israel's many internal dissenters and Jewish critics as another method of self-justification, thereby using Israel's own openness as a club with which to bludgeon it. Yet if you say, for instance, that Israel is a fascist state and cite the testimony of Israelis who freely argue as much, then you have done nothing except instantly disprove your own premise.

But logic is not the issue here, nor, really, are the facts: Try arguing either with someone determined to ignore them. The issue is about taboo -- a word easy to mock until you realize it often upholds what is best in society. Racism has become taboo in American society, and that's a very good thing. Anti-Semitism used to be taboo, but that's been eroded by an obsessive criticism of Israel that seems to borrow freely from the classic anti-Semitic repertoire ("tell her they're filth") while adopting the brilliant trick of treating Jewish victimization as a moral ideal from which modern Israel has sadly deviated.

Readers may wonder why Ms. Churchill's trite agitprop, a cultural blip on the vast American stage, deserves a column. Maybe it doesn't; maybe it's best ignored. But I'm reminded of what a better Churchill -- Winston -- wrote about the German decision in 1917 to put V.I. Lenin on a sealed train to Petersburg, "in the same way you might send a phial containing a culture of typhoid or cholera to be poured into the water supply of a great city." Something foul has now gotten into our water, too.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Institutionalizated "Moderate" Arab Incitement to Terrorism

From a Palestinian Media Watch Bulletin, May 3, 2010, by Itamar Marcus, Nan Jacques Zilberdik, Barbara Crook and PMW staff:

In a press conference today with Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, Palestinian Media Watch released a new report entitled "From Terrorists to Role Models: The Palestinian Authority's Institutionalization of Incitement"

..."For this report, PMW chose 100 examples of places and events named after 46 different terrorists in order to show the scope of the phenomenon. Twenty six of the examples have been reported in the Palestinian media in 2010."

The report documents that: "Terror glorification is highly visible in Palestinian society. A Palestinian child can walk to school along a street named after the terrorist Abu Jihad, who planned a bus hijacking that killed 37, spend the day learning in a school named after Hamas founder Ahmad Yassin, in the afternoon play football in a tournament named after suicide terrorist Abd Al-Baset Odeh who killed 31, and end his day at a youth center named after terrorist Abu Iyad, responsible for the killing of the 11 Olympic athletes in Munich. A young woman can join a university women's club named Sisters of Dalal, after Dalal Mughrabi, attend a week at Al-Quds University honoring suicide bomb builder Yahya Ayyash, and participate in university rallies named after numerous terrorists. Honoring terrorists envelops and plays a significant part in defining the Palestinian world."

Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said at the press conference:
"I thank PMW for this research. We will study it and give our response. I welcome the activities of this organization, which exposes Palestinian society and the Palestinian Authority as they present themselves, not to the world but to themselves ...True peace must be built on a foundation of trust between the parties. The continuation of incitement on the part of the Palestinians will not help build trust and understanding between us. Therefore, before the start of the talks, the PA must decide if it is a partner for true peace and stop the ongoing incitement and boycotts against Israel."
[ accessed May 3, 2010]

Click here to see the full PMW report in PDF.

The following is the executive summary of the report:

From the Executive Summary:
...The Palestinian Authority's recent naming of a square in Ramallah after the terrorist Dalal Mughrabi, who led a terror attack that killed 37 civilians, was not an isolated incident. It is one example among many of how the PA has institutionalized incitement by systematically turning terrorists into role models.

...Terror glorification is highly visible in Palestinian society. A Palestinian child can walk to school along a street named after the terrorist Abu Jihad, who planned a bus hijacking that killed 37, spend the day learning in a school named after Hamas founder Ahmad Yassin, in the afternoon play football in a tournament named after suicide terrorist Abd Al-Baset Odeh who killed 31, and end his day at a youth center named after terrorist Abu Iyad, responsible for killing the 11 Olympic athletes in Munich. A young woman can join a university women's club named Sisters of Dalal, after Dalal Mughrabi, attend a week at Al-Quds University honoring suicide bomb builder Yahya Ayyash, and participate in university rallies named after numerous terrorists. Honoring terrorists envelops and plays a significant part in defining the Palestinian world.

Two types of incitement: Direct calls to kill vs. honoring terrorists who killed
The PA practice of honoring terrorists is a very dangerous form of incitement, because it praises the killer and the act of killing after the actual murder has taken place. When an Imam on PA TV calls to kill Jews, the murder is at that point a possibility. No one has yet been killed. Honoring a suicide terrorist does not refer to a possibility, but glorifies an actual murder.

When PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas funded a computer center named after Mughrabi, he was telling Palestinian society that killing Rebecca Hochman and her sons, 6-year-old Roi and 3-year-old Ilan, along with 34 other civilians in a bus hijacking, was not merely acceptable, but an act worthy of honor. When the PA Ministry of Education held a football tournament named after suicide terrorist Odeh who killed 31, it was saying that the act of murder is what turns Palestinians into heroes. The PA's message that terrorists are role models is as damaging to peace as it is disturbing. Honoring a murderer is incitement to murder.

PA leaders honor terrorists
The terror veneration that this report documents is not of a fringe group but is policy of the PA, the Fatah party and the Palestinian leaders. PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad in April 2010 sponsored a sports event named after Abu Jihad, who orchestrated Dalal Mughrabi's bus hijacking and many other terror attacks. And Abbas, in addition to funding the computer center named after Dalal Mughrabi in 2009, also publicly supported the naming of the square in her name in 2010.

Palestinian Authority defends policy of honoring terrorists
In response to PMW's exposing the plans to name a square near Ramallah after Dalal Mughrabi, the Palestinian Authority defended this practice at the highest levels, acknowledging that this terror veneration is part of PA policy.

Mahmoud Abbas, PA Chairman, on naming square after Mughrabi:
"Of course I did not go myself, but I do not deny [the naming]. Of course we want to name a square after her." [Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Jan. 17, 2010]

Siham Barghouti, PA Minister of Culture, on naming square after Mughrabi:
"Honoring them in this way [by naming public places after them] is the least we can give them, and this is our right." [Al-Ayyam, Jan. 11, 2010]

Mahmoud Al-Aloul, member of Fatah Central Committee, defending immortalizing terrorists:
"It is important to continue commemorating the memory of the Shahids (Martyrs) and the Palestinian acts of heroism, and most importantly the anniversary of the Martyrdom of Dalal Mughrabi, heroine of the Coastal Road operation [attack that killed 37], which falls on March 11th... Al-Aloul said that Fatah has acted and continues to act to immortalize its Shahids (Martyrs) and heroes... He added: 'It is our right and our duty to take pride in all of the Shahids (Martyrs), and it is our duty to convey this message in the most direct manner to the generations to come.'"
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Feb. 25, 2010]

Speaking on behalf of Mahmoud Abbas, about street named after Abu Jihad:
"In his speech on behalf of the President [Abbas], Tayeb Al-Rahim said: 'Today we are celebrating the inauguration of a street named after the leader Abu Jihad, Prince of the Shahids... He had the honor of introducing the idea of the armed Palestinian struggle... We say that the entire [Palestinian] nation has become Abu Jihad, and that our people are proud of him. His name has been given to hospitals and schools and centers and streets. Abu Jihad did not die; he lives on in our midst. Abu Jihad is the engineer of the revolution; the first bullet."
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, April 21, 2010]

...general terrorist glorification not included in this report
This report is documenting only the naming of places and events in honor of terrorists that have been cited in the PA media. PMW has not investigated all the PA schools or all street names and therefore the full extent of the phenomenon is certainly greater. In addition this report does not include the PA practice of glorifying terrorists directly through events in their honor, such as, assemblies, rallies, or TV specials on anniversaries of terror attacks. For example, on the annual anniversary of Dalal Mughrabi's bus hijacking, PA TV has broadcast many special reports, interviews and programs about her and the attack. While all this greatly compounds the problem, it is beyond the scope of this report.

The explicit and unmitigated rejection of terror on moral grounds is a basic condition for a sincere and lasting peace. Whereas the PA leadership has publicly committed to fight violence, this message can only be seen as insincere by their own people, when numerous terrorists who murdered Israelis are repeatedly glorified by the PA leadership even in 2010.

Indeed, there is no more fundamental statement of support for violence and terror than when the single act of intentionally targeting and killing Israeli civilians is enough to immortalize the name of the killer.

If there is to be any chance for peace, the Palestinian leadership must convince their own people that terror is rejected -- not merely because it is damaging to Palestinian interests in 2010, but because it is immoral and wrong at all times. For peace to have a chance, terrorists must be ostracized as immoral outcasts, not immortalized as heroes and role models.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Since When Is Iran a Champion For Women's Rights?

From, April 29, 2010, by Anne Bayefsky:

How could a country that stones women to death for adultery possibly be chosen to serve in a leadership role on the U.N.'s Commission on the Status of Women?

The United Nations Economic and Social Council yesterday elected Iran to serve a four-year term -- beginning in 2011 -- on the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). The U.N. calls the Commission “the principal global policy-making body” on women’s rights and claims it is “dedicated exclusively to gender equality and advancement of women.” Yet Iran was elected by acclamation. It was one of only two candidates for two slots allocated to the Asian regional bloc – in other words, a fixed slate and a done deal.

Among other Iranian qualifications to serve in a leadership role in advancing the rights of women, is the country’s criminal code, which includes punishments like burying women from the waist down and stoning them to death for adultery.

The 2009 U.S. State Department report on Iran outlines other highlights of Iran’s women’s rights credentials. For instance, “spousal rape is not illegal” and when it comes to any other kind of rape “most rape victims did not report the crime to authorities because they feared…punishment for having been raped…Four male witnesses or three men and two women are required for conviction. A woman or man found making a false accusation of rape is subject to 80 lashes.”
Other features of Iran’s legal system, according to the State Department, include: “a man may escape punishment for killing a wife caught in the act of adultery if he is certain she was a consenting partner….[I]n 2008, 50 honor killings were reported during a seven-month period…” In general, “the testimony of two women is equal to that of one man.” Moreover, “a woman has the right to divorce only if her husband signs a contract granting that right, cannot provide for his family, or is a drug addict, insane, or impotent. A husband was not required to cite a reason for divorcing his wife.”

As USA Today has reported, women have borne the brunt of Iran’s crackdown on civil liberties. Laws permit polygamy, employment laws favor men, and family laws entitle women to only half the inheritance of a man.

In an effort to prevent Iran’s election to the Commission, the National Iranian American Council reported prior to the meeting: “in the past year, Iran…has charged women who were seeking equality in the social sphere…with threatening national security…Its prison guards have beaten, tortured, sexually assaulted and raped female and male civil rights protesters…In universities…the government is now banning women from key areas of study. Childcare centers are being shut down to hamper women's ability to work…Women's publications that addressed gender equality have been shut down. The regime is attempting to erase decades of struggle and progress.”

None of that made the slightest difference to the U.N. bosses. The Commission on the Status of Women was established in 1946 with the usual stated lofty goals. CSW was charged with “promoting women’s rights” and making “recommendations on urgent problems requiring immediate attention in the field of women's rights.” The forty-five member states meet annually at U.N. headquarters in New York, boasts the U.N. website, to “identify challenges, set global standards and formulate concrete policies to promote gender equality and advancement of women worldwide.”

Having welcomed Iran into its exclusive club with open arms, the challenges facing Iranian women will obviously not be on the CSW agenda any time in the future. It should be noted that the likelihood of CSW caring one whit about the fate of Iranian women was remote. For years the CSW has only ever adopted one resolution naming any country for violating women’s rights -- you guessed it – Palestinian women’s rights allegedly violated by Israel. The Commission is “gravely concerned” about Israeli violations of Palestinian rights. The right to life of Palestinian women and girls subject to honor killings, coerced into becoming suicide bombers or child soldiers at the hands of non-Israelis somehow has never made it on to their radar screen. And the same is true of the rights of women and girls violated by any other specific state on earth but Israel.

Along with Iran, other human rights stalwarts elected to the Commission yesterday were the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia and Zimbabwe. They will join current CSW members and human rights enthusiasts like Belarus, China, Cuba, and Libya.

Iran’s election to the leading U.N women’s rights agency indicates two things. First is the low regard held for women’s rights on the U.N.’s list of priorities. Iran had originally wanted to become a member of the U.N. Human Rights Council but various players decided that Iranian membership might be even more embarrassing than current HRC members and U.N. human rights authority figures like Saudi Arabia, China, Cuba, Angola, Egypt, and Krygyzstan. Women’s rights were the consolation prize. Second is the continuing muscle of the Organization of the Islamic Conference at the U.N. Nobody challenged Iran’s entitlement to membership on at least one major rights body. Nobody dared to.

This is another example of just one more U.N. body created to do one thing and now doing the opposite, for which American taxpayers foot 22% of the bill. And it will continue unless those with their hands on the spigot in Congress finally decide to turn off the tap.

UN: led by dictators, despots and dickheads

From UN Watch, May 1, 2010, by Anne Bayefsky:

Iran’s election to the UN Commission on the Status of Women on April 28, 2010 wasn’t the only UN shocker that day. The Democratic Republic of Congo, Cuba, Sudan and Zimbabwe are among the dictatorships and human rights basket-cases elected to UN leadership roles and positions that entail responsibilities diametrically opposed to their qualifications.

UN Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations

... this Committee gets to decide what NGOs are permitted to get UN passes, passes which will allow them into the UN, to lobby governments and to participate and speak at UN meetings. Who gets to choose the right and wrong NGOs?
On April 28 the UN re-elected Sudan, Cuba, China and Pakistan.

Their qualifications for the job?

(US State Department's Country Report on Human Rights Practices 2009, Sudan)
"[T]he government expelled 13 humanitarian nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) from the country. The government also shut down three Sudanese NGOs in March...As of year's end whereabouts [of the cofounder of the NGO Darfur Forum for Reconciliation and Peaceful Coexistence] were unknown...Security forces arbitrarily arrested and detained...NGO members...[G]overnment forces frequently harassed NGOs that received international assistance; restricted or denied humanitarian assessments; did not approve technical agreements; changed procedures; copied NGO files; confiscated NGO property; questioned humanitarian workers at length; monitored humanitarians' personal correspondence; delayed the issuance of visas and travel permits; restricted travel; and publicly accused humanitarian workers of being "spies," "Western agents," and "workers for Israel."

(US State Department's Country Report on Human Rights Practices 2009, Cuba)
"[T]he government did not recognize any domestic human rights groups or permit them to function legally...There are no officially recognized, independent NGOs that monitor human rights...The government continued to deny human rights organizations and the International Committee of the Red Cross access to political prisoners and detainees."

(US State Department's Country Report on Human Rights Practices 2009, China)
"Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), both local and international, continued to face intense scrutiny and restrictions...[T]he government maintained a task force aimed at blocking political change advocated by NGOs involved in social, political, and charitable activities, and also by groups dedicated to combating discrimination against women, persons with disabilities, and minorities...To register, an NGO must find a government agency to serve as its organizational sponsor, have a registered office, and hold a minimum amount of funds...The government did not permit independent domestic NGOs to monitor openly or to comment on human rights conditions...The government...increased scrutiny of NGOs with financial and other links overseas."

(US State Department's Country Report on Human Rights Practices 2009, Pakistan)
"Criminal groups, some with ties to militant groups, engaged in extortion and kidnapping activities throughout the country...NGO workers were among those targeted... NGOs are required to register with the government...Security was a problem for NGO workers...By year's end seven NGO workers had been killed…and several others had received threats...[S]ecurity agencies blocked issuance of visas for international staff of NGOs..."

UN Commission on Social Development
The UN job description for the Commission: "...the Commission has taken up key social development themes…These themes are...Promoting full employment and decent work for all...Improving public sector effectiveness....National and international cooperation for social development...Integration of social and economic policy" (Commission for Social Development web-site) )

On April 28 the UN chose Zimbabwe and re-elected Egypt and Cuba as social development authorities.

Their qualifications for the job?

(US State Department's Country Report on Human Rights Practices 2009, Egypt) "The country was a source, transit point, and destination for women and children trafficked primarily for the purposes of forced labor...The law prohibits strikes...[E]mployers abused, overworked, and generally endangered working children...There were reports of employer abuse of undocumented workers, especially domestic workers."

(US State Department's Country Report on Human Rights Practices 2009, Zimbabwe) "The government's campaign of forced evictions and the demolition of homes and businesses continued during the year under the land reform policy, which affected more than 5,000 farm workers and their families. Approximately 3,300 families were forcibly displaced, sometimes violently, during government-condoned takeovers of commercial farms...[C]hild labor was common...[T]he incidence of children who worked in the informal sector continued to increase...Children often lacked access to necessary safety equipment and training. Children illegal gold and diamond mining, as street vendors, and as car-watchers. There were continued reports of large numbers of girls subject to sexual exploitation."

(US State Department's Country Report on Human Rights Practices 2009, Cuba) "The law does not allow workers to form and join unions of their choice. The only legal labor union in the country was the CTC, whose leaders were chosen by the CP [Communist Party]...Virtually all workers were required to belong to the CTC, and promotions frequently were limited to CP members who took part in mandatory marches, public humiliations of dissidents, and other state‑organized activities...The government can determine that a worker is "unfit" to work, resulting in job loss and the denial of job opportunities. Persons were deemed unfit for their political beliefs, including their refusal to join the official union, or for trying to depart the country illegally. Several small independent labor organizations...were subject to police harassment and infiltration by government agents and were unable to represent workers effectively or work on their behalf...The law does not prohibit forced or compulsory labor by adults...Authorities also often imprisoned persons who refused to participate in mandatory work...[T]he government required children to work in various situations."

Commission on the Status of Women
The UN job description for CSW: "The Commission on the Status of…dedicated exclusively to gender equality and advancement of women. It is the principal global policy-making body. Every year, representatives of Member States gather at United Nations Headquarters in New York to evaluate progress on gender equality, identify challenges, set global standards and formulate concrete policies to promote gender equality and advancement of women worldwide." (Commission on the Status of Women web-site, "Overview")

On April 28 the UN deemed The Democratic Republic of the Congo and Iran to be worthy of the job.

Here are the DRC’s qualifications:

(US State Department's Country Report on Human Rights Practices 2009, DRC) "...[R]ape was common throughout the country and especially pervasive in conflict areas in the east...[M]ore than 1,100 women and girls were raped each month...Government security forces, armed groups, and civilians perpetrated widespread and sometimes mass rape against women and girls...[M]embers of armed groups, the FARDC [Congolese Armed Forces], and the police were responsible for 81 percent of all reported cases of sexual violence in conflict zones...It was common for family members to pressure a rape victim to keep safeguard the reputations of the victim and her family...After a sexual assault, many young women and girls were often labeled as unsuitable for marriage and married women were frequently abandoned by their husbands. Some families forced rape victims to marry the men who raped them or to forego prosecution in exchange for money or goods from the rapist."

As to what newly elected member of CSW Iran brings to the table see "Since When Is Iran a Champion For Women's Rights?"

UN Commission on Sustainable Development
The UN job description: " promote dialogue and build partnerships for sustainable development with governments, the international community and the major groups…who have a major role to play in the transition towards sustainable development. These Major Groups include women, youth, indigenous peoples, non-governmental organizations, local authorities, workers and trade unions, business and industry, the scientific community, and farmers." (Commission on Sustainable Development web-site, "Mandate of the Commission on Sustainable Development"))

On April 28 the UN chose Angola and Lebanon, and re-elected Saudi Arabia as social development authorities.

Here are their job qualifications:

(US State Department's Country Report on Human Rights Practices 2009, Angola)
"The government arrested and harassed NGO workers...[T]rafficking in persons, and discrimination against persons with disabilities and indigenous persons were problems...Domestic violence against women, including spousal abuse, was common and pervasive...Female inmates informed...that prison guards regularly raped them... [C]hild labor...remained a problem...Children engaged in...exploitive labor practices [which] included forced prostitution, involvement in the sale or transport of illegal drugs, and the offloading and transport of goods in ports and across border posts...Street children were common..."

(US State Department's Country Report on Human Rights Practices 2009, Lebanon)
" Palestinian refugees residing in the country were not able to obtain citizenship...The law does not specifically prohibit domestic violence, and domestic violence, including spousal abuse, was a problem...Foreign domestic servants, usually women, were often mistreated, abused, and in some cases raped or placed in slavery-like conditions...According to the penal code, a man who kills his wife or other female relative may receive a reduced sentence if he demonstrates he committed the crime in response to a socially unacceptable sexual relationship conducted by the victim...[D]iscrimination against persons with disabilities continued...Discrimination against homosexual activity persisted...Women from Asia, Africa, Eastern Europe, and Russia were trafficked and forced to provide sexual or domestic services. Children…were… subject to forced labor."

(Freedom House Country Report 2009, Saudi Arabia)
"Women...may not legally drive cars, and their use of public facilities is restricted when men are present. By law and custom, Saudi women cannot travel within or outside of the country without a male relative...[D]aughters receive half the inheritance awarded to their brothers, and the testimony of one man is equal to that of two women in Sharia courts...[A]llegations of torture by police and prison officials are common, and access to prisoners by independent human rights and legal organizations is strictly limited...There continues to be virtually no protection for the more than six million foreign workers in Saudi Arabia. Many of these laborers...are forced to endure dangerous working and living conditions. There continue to be public reports of female domestic workers suffering regular physical, sexual, and emotional abuse...Substantial prejudice against ethnic, religious, and national minorities prevails."

U.N. Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT), Governing Council
The UN job description: "The United Nations Human Settlements Programme, UN-HABITAT…is mandated by the UN General Assembly to promote socially and environmentally sustainable towns and cities with the goal of providing adequate shelter for all. UN-HABITAT's Land and Tenure Section is the agency's point of reference for land management and tenure systems, policies and legislation that help achieve adequate shelter, security of tenure and equal access to economic resources for all, with a specific focus on gender equality. The main focus areas and mandate are implementation of land, housing and property rights, and particularly secure tenure for women." (UN-HABITAT web-site, "Shelter Branch")

On April 28, the UN re-elected Iran as the right country for the job.

Here are Iran’s qualifications for the Governing Council:

(US State Department's Country Report on Human Rights Practices 2009, Iran)
"Provisions in the Islamic civil and penal codes, particularly sections dealing law, discriminate against women...The constitution allows the government to confiscate property a manner not in conformity with Islamic law, and the government particularly targeted religious minorities, especially members of the Baha'i faith...The courts denied Baha'is the right to inherit property...The government reportedly continued to confiscate private and commercial properties, as well as religious materials, belonging to Baha'is...There were widespread reports that government agents entered, searched, and/or ransacked the homes and offices of reformist journalists in an attempt to intimidate them."

GILAD SHALIT STILL LIVES!!! Pray for him. Speak up for him.

Noam Shalit for Israel's 62nd Independence Day: