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October 11, 2009
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Wednesday, October 07, 2009
The Goldstone Report was commissioned by the UN Human Rights Council following Israel's military action in Gaza. The Council's objective was the political defeat of Israel by gutting any lawful exercise of the country's right of self-defense.
The Council set a mandate to focus only on Israel and its predetermined violations of international law. The Council selected investigators who had already publicly expressed the view that Israel was guilty.
This video contains footage of the Council's consideration of the Goldstone report. Lining up to congratulate Goldstone are some of the world's leading human rights abusers. They understood the report as granting a license to declare Israel guilty of a "holocaust," "concentration camps," "genocide," and "crimes against humanity."
Also in the video are statements by Israel's accusers which illustrate the political agenda behind the Goldstone mission.
The video includes Anne Bayefsky's response to Goldstone during his "dialogue" with states and non-governmental organizations at the Council, and Goldstone's Israel/South African apartheid analogy as an answer to her cricitism. While the President of the Human Rights Council castigates Bayefsky for her remarks, he has no difficulty thanking Israel's attackers for their hate-filled demonization of the Jewish state.
Tuesday, October 06, 2009
This article, by Anne Bayefsky, originally appeared in The Jerusalem Post.
On September 29, Richard Goldstone presented his report on the Gaza conflict to an enraptured UN Human Rights Council. The Council, in which the Organization of the Islamic Conference holds the balance of power, commissioned his report. Goldstone promoted his 575-page smear campaign against the State of Israel by parading his Jewishness and then analogizing his work to his prior efforts to combat apartheid.
At its core, the report repeats the ancient blood libel against the Jewish people. Or as Goldstone casts this abomination for a modern audience, Israel "deliberately...terrorize[d] a civilian population;" Israeli "violence against civilians w[as] part of a deliberate policy."
The report claims to be a human rights document but never mentions the racist, genocidal intent of the enemy which Israel finally confronted after years of restraint. It invents laws of war which never mention the "right of self-defense," and it relies on testimonies from witnesses speaking under circumstances that gave rise to "a fear of reprisals" from Hamas should they have dared to tell the truth.
After the report was presented, the Council resembled an assemblage of vultures moving in on their prey. But instead of adopting a resolution intended to implement the report's recommendations, on October 1, the matter was tabled until the following Council session in March 2010.
REPORTS INDICATE that the American administration told the Palestinian Authority to back off. So the delay is not an indication that the hysterical Goldstone report went too far even for the UN. After all, this lead human rights body is populated by the likes of China and Saudi Arabia.
What is less clear, however, is what the breathing space will mean. Does President Obama plan to use the opportunity to extract concessions from Israel in exchange for putting the Goldstone report permanently to rest? Or does he appreciate that there can be no peace progress so long as Israel's alleged "peace" partners are bent on gutting its right of self-defense, and the phrase "living side-by-side in peace and security" is meant to apply to a party of one? Initial signs are worrying.
The Bush administration refused to lend the Human Rights Council any credibility. While aware of the fact that the Council had adopted more resolutions and decisions condemning Israel than all other 191 UN member states combined, the Obama administration reversed course. The United States joined the Council and took its place as a full member for the first time at this latest session.
Given the Council's preoccupation with Israel, participating and lending it legitimacy handed the Obama administration new leverage - against its ally. In the past, Canada insisted that anti-Israel resolutions be brought to a vote, rather than railroaded through by "consensus," and courageously voted against.
But when the United States came on board, Canada rotated off the Council, thus creating a dynamic in which Israel became dependent on US proclivities.
The Goldstone report, however, has forced the Obama administration to recognize that the leverage over Israel presented by Council membership is not cost-free. No Israeli administration is going to take a seat at a negotiating table that its "peace partner" has festooned with a sword of Damocles.
So the report presents the president with a dilemma: how to avoid alienating his new friends in the Arab and Muslim world while keeping the peace process percolating? Moreover, sooner or later the Goldstone "rules" of engagement could well be turned against American action in Afghanistan, Iraq and beyond.
The Obama administration needs to make a policy decision on the Goldstone report quickly. There are likely to be various attempts to insert references to the report at the UN General Assembly this fall.
Goldstone himself can be expected to continue seeking the limelight. In September, he made the unprecedented move of commandeering the UN Headquarters' press room in New York to release his report, even though it had been authorized by a Geneva institution and was due to be considered shortly. Having made recommendations to continue the witch hunt, including at the Security Council, Goldstone is very likely to attempt to turn the report's "implementation" into a permanent meal ticket.
The president, therefore, should be under no illusions. Waxing eloquent about multilateral engagement will not make the report and its progeny all go away - if that was ever his game plan.
UNFORTUNATELY, IT appears that the president may have a different agenda. Speaking at the Council in the presence of Goldstone, the Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Michael Posner said that the United States was ready "to engage in discussion of this report," and the US takes Goldstone's allegations against Israel "seriously." Posner was well aware that the report found that violence against Palestinian civilians was part of a deliberate Israeli policy, and yet could only manage to respond: "The report makes negative inferences about the intentions of Israeli officials... on the basis of a limited factual record." The only problem with referring the allegations to the UN Security Council and the International Criminal Court, according to Posner, was that "then the role of the Human Rights Council would be dramatically different."
In language similar to Goldstone's trashing of the Israeli judicial system, Posner asked the Council to adopt a resolution telling "Israel to investigate and address allegations through a credible domestic process." It therefore appears that the Goldstone report will continue to fester and that administration officials may be preparing to use its threatened revival as a bargaining chip.
Now is the time for concerned Americans and members of Congress to demand that this scandalous report be buried permanently and immediately, and that it not become a weapon in behind-the-scenes struggles between Israel and the United States on vital issues. The right of every democracy to defend itself against a fanatical enemy who is prepared to put its own people in harm's way depends on it.
Monday, October 05, 2009
This article, by Anne Bayefsky, originally appeared in The Weekly Standard.
The Obama administration has marked its first foray into the UN human rights establishment by backing calls for limits on freedom of expression. The newly-minted American policy was rolled out at the latest session of the UN Human Rights Council, which ended in Geneva on Friday. American diplomats were there for the first time as full Council members and intent on making friends.
President Obama chose to join the Council despite the fact that the Organization of the Islamic Conference holds the balance of power and human rights abusers are among its lead actors, including China, Cuba, and Saudi Arabia. Islamic states quickly interpreted the president's penchant for "engagement" as meaning fundamental rights were now up for grabs. Few would have predicted, however, that the shift would begin with America's most treasured freedom.
For more than a decade, a UN resolution on the freedom of expression was shepherded through the Council, and the now defunct Commission on Human Rights which it replaced, by Canada. Over the years, Canada tried mightily to garner consensus on certain minimum standards, but the "reformed" Council changed the distribution of seats on the UN's lead human rights body. In 2008, against the backdrop of the publication of images of Mohammed in a Danish newspaper, Cuba and various Islamic countries destroyed the consensus and rammed through an amendment which introduced a limit on any speech they claimed was an "abuse . . . [that] constitutes an act of racial or religious discrimination."
The Obama administration decided that a revamped freedom of expression resolution, extracted from Canadian hands, would be an ideal emblem for its new engagement policy. So it cosponsored a resolution on the subject with none other than Egypt--a country characterized by an absence of freedom of expression.
Privately, other Western governments were taken aback and watched the weeks of negotiations with dismay as it became clear that American negotiators wanted consensus at all costs. In introducing the resolution on Thursday, October 1--adopted by consensus the following day--the ranking U.S. diplomat, Chargé d'Affaires Douglas Griffiths, crowed:
You Can't Say That Article