Resources updated between Monday, March 13, 2017 and Sunday, March 19, 2017
March 18, 2017
The head of a Lebanon-based United Nations agency that promotes development in Arab countries resigned Friday, after the body she led was ordered by the UN secretary-general to remove from its website a controversial report that charged Israel has established an "apartheid regime" guilty of "racial domination" over the Palestinians.
Rima Khalaf, a Jordanian who served as executive secretary of the Beirut-based Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), announced her resignation at a hastily arranged press conference in the Lebanese capital...
"We expected of course that Israel and its allies would put huge pressure on the secretary general of the UN so that he would disavow the report, and that they would ask him to withdraw it," Khalaf, who had also served as an under-secretary-general to Guterres, added...
Israel's Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon welcomed the developments, saying Guterres's move was "an important step in stopping discrimination against Israel."
In a statement, Danon said "Anti-Israel activists do not belong in the UN. It is time to put an end to practice in which UN officials use their position to advance their anti-Israel agenda."
He added that "Over the years Khalaf has worked to harm Israel and advocate for the BDS movement. Her removal from the UN is long overdue."
US envoy to the UN Nikki Haley, who had demanded the report's withdrawal Wednesday, said in a statement: "When someone issues a false and defamatory report in the name of the US, it is appropriate that the person resign. UN agencies must do a better job of eliminating false and biased work, and I applaud the secretary-general's decision to distance his good office from it."
Danon said of the report on Wednesday that the "attempt to smear and falsely label the only true democracy in the Middle East by creating a false analogy is despicable and constitutes a blatant lie."
"UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres requested the removal of a report accusing Israel of apartheid from the website of the UN body that published it, Reuters reported Friday, citing an unnamed official in the international body.
Guterres had previously distanced himself from the report by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), which is comprised of 18 Arab countries...
The United States on Wednesday had demanded that the report be withdrawn altogether.
"The United States is outraged by the report," US Ambassador Nikki Haley said in a statement. "The United Nations secretariat was right to distance itself from this report, but it must go further and withdraw the report altogether."
Based in Beirut, ESCWA lists the state of Palestine as a full member, and works to strengthen cooperation and promote development.
"That such anti-Israel propaganda would come from a body whose membership nearly universally does not recognize Israel is unsurprising," said Haley.
Haley has accused the United Nations of being biased against Israel and has vowed as President Donald Trump's envoy to staunchly defend Israel at the world body..."
March 17, 2017
March 16, 2017
A UN human rights "expert's" report has whitewashed the antisemitic and violent records of so-called "human rights defenders" while criticizing Israel. The report, on the "situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories," submitted by UN "Special Rapporteur" Michael Lynk – who has labeled Israel's creation as "ethnic cleansing" – is one of five reports being considered at the month-long session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.
In his report, Lynk lists Palestinian "human rights defenders" who he alleges have faced "interference" with their right to peacefully protest, and "who all engage in non-violent activity." In fact, among those listed are individuals with violent and/or highly antisemitic pasts, none of which is mentioned in Lynk's report:
Issa Amro – Charged with 4 counts of attacks on Israelis, including one in which Amro "violently attacked a civilian, forcibly took the victim's camera, and then destroyed the camera by smashing it on the ground, all while while spitting on the victim."
Salah Khawaja – Described only as a "member of the secretariat of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) National Committee) in Lynk's report, Khawaja is in fact an "an active member of the blacklisted Popular Front Liberation Party,"http://www.ngo-monitor.org/reports/european-funded-ngo-pflp-network] which is considered a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union.
Manal Tamimi – Described only as a "leader of a protest movement" and "field researcher" by Lynk, Tamimi is in fact a notorious antisemite and, whose social media accounts are filled with:
March 15, 2017
A female Palestinian attempted to ram a car into security forces at a tense junction in the occupied West Bank on Wednesday and was shot and wounded, Israel's military said.
No injuries were reported on the Israeli side following the incident at the Gush Etzion Junction south of Jerusalem. The Palestinian's condition was not yet clear, nor were details on her identity or age.
A wave of violence that broke out in October 2015 has killed 255 Palestinians, 40 Israelis, two Americans, one Jordanian, an Eritrean and a Sudanese national, according to an AFP count.
Most of the Palestinians who lost their lives were carrying out knife, gun or car-ramming attacks, according to the Israeli authorities. Others were killed during protests, in clashes or Israeli air raids on Gaza.
Violence has greatly subsided in recent months, despite sporadic attacks.
The UN Palestinian representative in Geneva has told the current session of the UN "Human Rights" Council that Israel is starving Palestinians and dumping toxic waste onto Palestinian land. Speeches demonizing all Israelis and so-called "terrorist settlers" incite violence, but are allowed to proceed uninterrupted by the Human Rights Council President.
In the Palestinian representative's words:
"Nevertheless, Israeli planes illegally spray herbicides on agricultural lands belonging to Palestinian civilians in Gaza. These Israeli pesticides have a negative effect on Palestinian crops and cause tremendous losses for Palestinian farmers in the occupied and besieged territory...Furthermore, extremist and terrorist settlers continue to use violence to push peasants out of their land, by killing cattle, burning crops, uprooting olive trees. Of grave concern is also the practice of illegal transport and dumping of hazardous and toxic waste produced inside Israel into the occupied State of Palestine."
A Palestinian UN representative, speaking at the current session of the UN's top human rights body in Geneva, accused Israel of "systematically" targeting children. Addressing the UN "Human Rights" Council, here is some of what he neglected to mention:
March 14, 2017
The UN Human Rights Council, currently in the midst of a four-week session in Geneva, will have more reports on Israel than on Iran, North Korea and Syria combined. There are five reports on Israel, two on Iran and one each on North Korea and Syria. The Council calls for the production of these reports in prior sessions, and then the UN secretariat in Geneva and New York goes to work producing them as part of their daily routine all year round. The reports then lead to new resolutions by the Council condemning Israel, and these resolutions in turn call for another set of reports. The General Assembly appropriates the funds for the Council's cycle of anti-Israel reporting, condemning and resolution-passing - leaving the U.S. taxpayer footing 22% of the bill.
Here are the reports to be considered at the current Council session on Israel and three of the world's worst human rights abusers:
While the Trump administration has currently decided to remain on the UN "Human Rights" Council in the hope of "reforming" it, Council participants have a different idea. The Council is currently in session in Geneva and heard on March 3, 2017 from the expert "rapporteur" it appointed to deal with the subject of torture. Ben Emmerson told the Council that "irresponsible" President Trump made his "blood run cold," and was motivated by "jingoistic populism."
Here is just part of what the Human Rights Council's appointee had to say:
"To hear President Trump in the first days after his inauguration, grimly extolling the virtues of torture as a weapon in the fight against terrorism and confirming his personal willingness to authorize the use of torture if asked to do so was enough to make the blood run cold. It shows a staggering level of ill-preparedness to govern. To think that the current president of the United States would be prepared for reasons of jingoistic populism to reintroduce what is arguably the single greatest act of lawlessness perpetrated by the Bush administration, to fuel the resentment that stokes the risk of terrorism, and to add hypocrisy to the charges which ISIS levels at the West in its relentless recruitment drives – all this leaves one wondering whether lasting progress in this field is ever going to be possible. If one of the world's most powerful nations, a permanent member of the Security Council, is once again prepared to abandon our collective values on the pretext of defending them, then one is left to wonder whether anything at all has been achieved in the last 15 years. The constant refrain from the Security Council – that terrorism must be fought in ways that are compatible with international law and in particular international human rights law – rings hollow when the head of state of one of its 5 permanent members makes irresponsible statements of his willingness to authorize international crimes."
The UN may not have a definition of terrorism, but it does know the core of its counter-terrorism responsibilities: protecting the human rights of terrorists. A UN "special rapporteur," or expert, on protecting human rights while countering terrorism has "strongly" recommended the UN establish a new counter-terrorism office that would, at its core, be responsible for protecting human rights in counter-terrorism efforts.
The recommendation was made in special rapporteur Ben Emmerson's report the UN Human Rights Council, currently in a month-long session in Geneva.
In his words:
"...the Special Rapporteur strongly recommends the establishment of a new office of Under-Secretary-General for counter-terrorism coordination, whose responsibilities would include, at their core, the protection and promotion of human rights while countering terrorism and which would work in close cooperation with, and on the advice of, OHCHR [Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights]."
"Speaking in Geneva, Switzerland at the UN Human Rights Council on March 3, 2017, the representative of Qatar, Ali Khalfan Al-Mansouri, called for distinguishing "terrorism" from "resistance." The remark was made following a UN expert's presentation of a report on human rights while countering terrorism.
In his words:
"Moreover, we need to distinguish between terrorism and the legitimate resistance, which is the right of peoples who suffer from occupation and oppression."
During a meeting of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on March 7, 2017, Iran – which executes individuals for homosexual conduct under its Sharia law - called sexual orientation a "non-issue" as it relates to religious freedom. The remark was made in response to the inclusion of language addressing discrimination against the LGBT community in a UN expert's report on religious freedom.
In the words of Tofigh Sedigh Mostahkam, the representative for Iran:
"We are also concerned that the issue of sexual orientation, in other words the LGBT issue, has been mentioned in the report of the Special Rapporteur, which is a non-issue with regard to the report."
"This week brings fresh reports that the Trump White House wants to slash funding to the United Nations, possibly by as much as 50%. That would be a wise move, and if that's what actually happens, it would be a good start and a welcome signal -- the first from an American president in many years -- that it is time for the UN to stop treating Washington as a moronic sugar-daddy. It is way past time for the UN (and Washington itself) to stop treating U.S. tax dollars as a multi-billion-dollar annual entitlement for the bigots and thug governments that so amply populate Turtle Bay. It is time for the U.S. to stop shelling out roughly $10 billion per year for the benefit of a UN in which, for instance, the member states have just elected -- I'm not kidding -- the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism, Iran, as head of the largest voting caucus at the UN assemblies in Vienna.
But behind any move to slash UN funding loom a number of questions. What, precisely, might America hope to achieve? Where can this go? If the aim is to reform the UN, is that even possible?
The usual defense of the UN is that it may be 'imperfect,' but 'it's all we've got' -- a refrain that tends to be accompanied by prescriptions for reforms that either won't stick, or won't work at all.
My argument is, if the UN is all we've got, then it is way past time to come up with something else.
And while it happens fairly often that columnists here and there (myself included) will call for defunding the UN, replacing the UN, supplanting the UN, and so forth, there is very little in the public domain that actually explores, in serious ways, in detail, with the benefit of real expertise, exactly how America might divorce itself from the UN, and avail itself of arrangements more appropriate to the 21st century.
In the elite circles of Washington and New York, there has long been an implicit taboo on any serious call for the U.S. to shrug off the UN. It's time to end that taboo. It is time for a real debate. It is time for some of those with the know-how, resources, and genuine goodwill toward future generations, to take a serious, in-depth look at the opportunity cost to America of cleaving to the UN. What possibilities are we passing up, in order to maintain this multilateral morass? Is the UN really the best we can do? Could we please start asking these questions not as a rhetorical flourish, but as serious questions?
In my Broadside on 'What to Do About the UN,' I argue that the UN, for all the high-minded aims of its charter, is basically configured to fail, and is doing so in ways increasingly dangerous to the U.S.
The UN, for all its flowery promises, was designed with appalling flaws from the start. The UN operates with no real accountability, no functional moral compass, and no mechanism for acquiring any such vital features. The problems that lead almost inevitably to the UN's bigotry, waste and abuse of its lavish funding and ever-expanding mandates are written into its tyrant-friendly, diplomatically-immune collectively-irresponsible DNA. The incentives suggest, and the record goes far to confirm, that for America the effort to genuinely reform the UN is a project about as promising as investing in the golden future of the workhorse, Boxer, in George Orwell's 'Animal Farm.'
Unwinding the U.S. from the UN might seem a daunting project. But surely it is worth asking whether the toll of sticking with the UN might turn out to be even worse. If I may quote from the closing lines of my Broadside on the UN (yes, I am hoping you might be interested to read it in full):
The UN is swift to tout its own achievements, real or imagined. But there is plenty in the record to suggest that the more we understand about the real workings of the U.N., the stronger the case for consigning it to the heap of failed collectivist experiments of the 20th century and for designing better alternatives. Either this task gets done in the not-so-distant future because men of vision and good will put their minds to finding ways to do it. Or it waits upon the aftermath of some cataclysm, toward which the U.N., as now configured, increasingly impels us."
March 13, 2017
The UN's top women's rights body, the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), opened its annual session in New York today with Iran serving in a key position. Iran is not only one of 45 elected member states of CSW, it is also a member of an exclusive group of five states that are charged with handling complaints of violations of women's rights from all over the world. The group is formally called the CSW "Working Group on Communications."
The election took place on the final day of the 2016 annual session of CSW, March 24, 2016, but was somehow omitted from the UN press release covering the meeting. Iran's appointment is mentioned, however, in the documentation for the 2017 CSW session. Here is the announcement in UN-eze:
"In accordance with Economic and Social Council resolution 2009/16, the Commission appoints five of its members to serve a two-year term on the Working Group on Communications on the Status of Women, established in accordance with Economic and Social Council resolution 1983/27. At the 1st meeting of its sixty-first session, the Commission appointed Belarus, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Liberia and Uruguay as members of the Working Group on Communications for the sixty-first session. In the absence of a nomination from the Western European and other States, the Commission had postponed the election of the remaining member of the Working Group on Communications to a later date..."
No mention was made of Iran's abysmal treatment of its own women or the additional danger posed by Iranian oversight to any woman who has or would want to complain to the UN of her government's treatment.
Two 20-year-old border policemen were moderately wounded early Monday morning after being stabbed by a Palestinian terrorist-who was later identified as 25-year-old Ibrahim Mattar-near the Lions' Gate in Jerusalem.
Police have confirmed that the attacker, a resident of Jabel Mukaber, was shot dead by one of the injured officers.
MDA teams evacuated the two to Hadassah Medical Center for treatment.
Following the attack, police forces converged on the home of the terrorist in Jabel Mukaber and detained several people, including family members.
According to police, the terrorist arrived at the scene at around 4am and parked his car nearby. After noticing the two border policemen taking up positions near the gate, the terrorist followed them to their post and began stabbing them.
The two officers managed to shove the terrorist out of the guard post and one managed to shoot and kill him.
This is the first attack to have taken place in the area in three months. During the wave of terror, the landmark was one of the flashpoints of terror-related violence and stabbing attacks.
In accordance with security assessments surrounding the holiday, a general closure of the West Bank and Gaza Strip will be enforced until midnight.
Ahmad Daqamseh, the Jordanian soldier convicted of killing seven Israeli schoolgirls 20 years ago, was released from prison on Sunday to a warm welcome from much of Jordanian society.
Wary that there would be an embarrassing show of popular support for Daqamseh, authorities released him after midnight on Saturday rather than on Monday, as had previously been expected.
But despite the surprise, supporters gathered quickly in his home village of Ibdir, in northern Jordan.
Daqamseh was found guilty of opening fire at a group of 80 seventh- and eighth-graders from the AMIT Fuerst School in Beit Shemesh in 1997, during an outing at the joint Israeli-Jordanian tourist resort Island of Peace in Naharayim. Seven of the girls were killed, while another six were wounded.
A video of Daqamseh in a vehicle approaching his home showed him surrounded by well-wishers clapping and shouting a religious chant: "Pray for the prophet."
But then the group addressed Daqamseh, saying, "You are courageous, you are the most courageous." A man chanted, and the group repeated: "You are the one in front of the battle, you are the one who blew up the [Jordan] Valley."
To amp up the festivities, the well-wishers then began singing the words to a wedding song: "Blessed Muhammad, shame on you Satan," followed by more chants of "this is the hero here."
Daqamseh's first statements Sunday were nonpolitical. "I will remain a soldier in the armed forces. I entered prison as a soldier in the armed forces and today consider myself and sons soldiers in the armed forces."
But soon afterward, in an interview with Al Jazeera in which he was unshaven and wore tinted glasses, he turned his attention to Israel, and it was clear that in his view it simply should not exist.
Daqamseh, who never voiced remorse over the massacre, said: "I would like to send a message to the Jordanian people. Don't believe the lie of normalization with the Zionist entity. Don't believe the lie of the two-state solution. Palestine is one country, from the sea to the river and from Ras Naqura [Rosh Hanikra] to Umm Rashrash [Eilat]. They falsified the names of the cities. Unfortunately, there are many Muslims who brag and talk about the State of Israel. There will never be a State of Israel."
Daqamseh's release was a wrenching spectacle for Israelis, considering he would have killed even more children had his weapon not become jammed. Daqamseh, now 46, would have been liable for execution, except that he was found to be mentally unstable and so was given a life sentence that is the equivalent of 20 years under Jordanian law. A few days after the killings, King Hussein traveled to Israel and beseeched the forgiveness of the bereaved families on behalf of all Jordanians.
But especially over the last decade, alongside heightened animosity towards Israel, calls mounted to release Daqamseh. In 2008, 70 prominent personalities signed a petition asking King Abdullah to pardon him. In 2011, then-justice minister Hussein Majali termed him a hero and called for his release, although the statement was repudiated by the Foreign Ministry.
In 2014, parliament voted by majority that he should be released.
Larger and larger segments of Jordan's population were buying into a view that what he did was heroic, understandable or at least had extenuating circumstances. At his trial, Daqamseh said he opened fire after Israeli girls mocked him while he was performing his prayers. This was taken up in Sunday's coverage of the release in ad-Dustour, which closed a short article by stating this claim as if it were a fact: "It is remembered that the soldier Daqamseh opened fire on a group of Israeli girls because of their mocking him during his prayers near Baqura in 1997."
But while ad-Dustour did not praise Daqamseh, he was lionized on Facebook and by some prominent personalities, including member of parliament Muslih al-Tarawneh, who said: "Ahmad is our groom today and every day. He has finished his sentence. Let him live in peace. He is not a stranger. He is the owner of the land and the country, and the heart of the country belongs to him."
On Facebook, most of the posts were effusive, but there were also some who went against the tide and voiced revulsion at seeing a child killer glorified.
Intellectual Basel Rafayeh wrote: "There is no heroism in killing children and I hope that he is not fooled by the popular support and the handicapped opposition, which believed that the children made fun of his prayers. The court convicted him and believed he has a mental problem. Case closed."
However, for Facebook user Talaat Shuaibat, it was a day of celebration.
"Jordanians have the right to celebrate the liberation of one city from occupation – its name is Ahmad Daqamseh."
Yasin Tarawneh wrote: "Daqamseh has recorded in Jordanian history that Jordan remains patriotic."
"May God protect him from the Zionists and the criminal agents," wrote Mohammed Farid.
Someone writing under the name Zein Srour wrote in one post: "The group that is praising him will bring us backwards." After another user responded to his post by calling Daqamseh "the lord of the heroes," Srour stuck to his guns: "If we are not humans, we are animals." He later wrote: "He killed Jewish children. Our religion doesn't say to kill people."
In the Knesset, MK Jackie Levy (Likud) expressed his disappointment that Daqamseh was released and did not stay in prison for the rest of his life. "It is sad and painful that a despicable murderer who conducted a brutal massacre returned home to a normal life. This terrorist should have spent the rest of his life behind bars."