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Resources updated between Monday, May 31, 2010 and Sunday, June 06, 2010
Sunday, June 06, 2010
This article by Anne Bayefsky originally appeared on JPost.com.
In a first from a US president, Barack Obama has now lectured Israel how it must conduct an investigation into actions taken by the IDF to defend the Jewish state. In response to a question from CNN's Larry King on June 3 about the blockade-busting endeavor by Turkish-backed extremists, Obama said: "We are calling for an effective investigation of everything that happened. I think the Israelis are going to agree to that – an investigation of international standards – because they recognize that this can't be good for Israel's long-term security."
The statement marks a new low in the president's moves impairing US-Israel relations.
Israel is a fully-free democratic society with an unparalleled, independent and accessible judicial system fully governed by the rule of law. The idea that it needs to be told by the president how to conduct an investigation into military operations taken in self-defense is an extraordinary insult. How dare the president suggest that its standards are not good enough?
The Israeli Supreme Court makes generous use – far more than the US Supreme Court – of decisions of national courts of other states, regional human rights courts, as well as international human rights treaties. The independent judiciary, to the frequent consternation of many political actors, is far more involved in oversight of the government and the military than is the judiciary in the US, where the political questions doctrine and other barriers frequently preclude judicial oversight.
Furthermore, as Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has made clear, defending the maritime blockade of Hamas-run Gaza and preventing the creation of an Iranian Mediterranean port are good for Israel's long-term security. They are also good for American security, given that Israel is seeking to defeat the same rejectionist Islamic forces that threaten America and democracy more generally.
The president's attempt at gross interference in Israeli sovereignty started with his rush to judgment last Monday, when he permitted a unanimous UN Security Council presidential statement calling for "a prompt, impartial, credible and transparent investigation conforming to international standards."
Predictably, within 24 hours that call was duly translated by the UN Human Rights Council into a call for an international investigation of what it had already condemned as "the outrageous attack by the Israeli forces."
The HRC is now engaged, in other words, in an effort to mimic the libelous Goldstone Report.
Though the US finally voted against the HRC resolution (after first suggesting it was open to a decision reproducing the Security Council statement), by that point the damage done by the president leaping on the Security Council bandwagon had been done. Moreover, since the Obama administration decided to join the HRC and to pay for it, American taxpayers will cover 22 percent of the $530,000 estimated costs of the HRC-sponsored investigation.
The president's assault on the credibility of the Israeli democratic system is coming from all sides of his administration. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton indicated on June 1 that international participants might be necessary to bolster the legitimacy of an Israeli probe. Israelis won't do. In her words, the US wants "a prompt, impartial, credible, and transparent investigation... We are open to different ways of assuring a credible investigation, including international participation..."
Assistant Secretary of State Philip J. Crowley made the insult even more grotesque – the goal wasn't a credible probe in objective terms, it was credible in the eyes of the UN mob. On June 2 he said that Israel must produce "an investigation that is broadly viewed as credible by the international community."
Just a week ago, the Obama administration made another move to undermine Israel's stature by way of international intervention. It undertook in writing at the conclusion of the Nuclear Nonproliferation conference to co-sponsor a 2012 international meeting having the goal of removing Israel's nuclear deterrence capacity without concomitant security guarantees having been realized. This increasingly brazen intimidation is not going to evaporate if Israel decides to subject itself to any kind of international oversight of its military forces, political decision-makers or judicial authorities.
Nor, of course, would anything satisfy UN players short of a UN team which was handpicked to assure a predetermined outcome finding Israel guilty on all counts. Israel should, therefore, strongly reject President Obama's latest endeavor to erode its sovereignty and well-being.
June 4, 2010
Thursday, June 03, 2010
This article by Anne Bayefsky originally appeared on Forbes.
The Obama administration is pushing for an internationalized investigation of Israel's recent effort to preserve its naval blockade of Hamas-run Gaza. In an extraordinary interference with the sovereignty of a democratic society and its right of self-defense, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton said Wednesday that the United States wants "a prompt, impartial, credible and transparent investigation. ... We are open to different ways of assuring a credible investigation, including international participation ... "
Assistant Secretary of State Philip J. Crowley elaborated that the administration was demanding Israel produce "an investigation that is broadly viewed as credible by the international community." That would be the same international community which has condemned Israel without the facts, and which has refused to walk back their spontaneous reactions, though the video evidence of armed "civilian" attackers and martyr-seeking "humanitarians" now stares them in the face.
Late Monday night President Obama agreed to a unanimous U.N. Security Council presidential statement, which demanded "a prompt, impartial, credible and transparent investigation conforming to international standards." At the U.N. everyone knew that such language meant a new U.N.-sponsored investigation mirroring the infamous U.N. Goldstone Report on the 2009 Gaza war. That report was produced by four investigators who had all publicly declared Israel guilty before they began, and who operated under a mandate that incorporated a guilty verdict from the outset.
Right on cue--and encouraged by the Security Council statement--on Wednesday the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) adopted a resolution deciding "to dispatch an independent international fact-finding mission to investigate violations of international law, including humanitarian and human rights law, resulting from the Israeli attacks on the flotilla of ships carrying humanitarian assistance."
In other words, once again the U.N. created a fact-finding mission to determine the facts it had already found. Among other things, the resolution states: "the Human Rights Council ... condemns in the strongest terms the outrageous attack by the Israeli forces."
While the Obama administration voted against the HRC resolution, it did not use its membership on the council to impede in any way the numerous breaches in procedure which made the debate and the introduction of the resolution to condemn Israel possible in the first place. Never in its history had the council held what was uniquely labeled an "urgent debate" on any human rights issue at all, anywhere. The HRC has specific requirements for holding "special sessions" and decided to ignore them, without American objection. In order to move with lightning speed, the substantive resolution was introduced under an agenda item on procedural issues, again without American objection.
Before Wednesday's HRC vote, the U.N. Secretariat was required under U.N. rules to produce a statement of the financial implications of the new "international fact-finding mission." Given the mad scramble to condemn Israel, it could only say this: "owing to the brief duration of the preceding debate, the Secretariat has not benefited from the requisite 48-hour period in which to prepare and present the related statement of financial implications for the draft resolution." So instead they guessed "approximately $530,000." Since the resolution was adopted, barring a move to insist Congress refuse to fund the mission, American taxpayers will pay 22% of the bill.
The Obama administration is doing nothing to slow down the extraordinary pace of international condemnation racing forward minus the facts. On the contrary, its support of some form of internationalization of an Israeli investigation--which would obviously occur in this fully democratic society in a manner consistent with the rule of law--is a blatant attempt to pile on the pressure. It also goes to the very heart of Israeli sovereignty. Imagine the response if anyone tried to force the United States military to subject its actions in self-defense to the judgment of an international overseer, just hours after the event.
The statements on Iran by Assistant Secretary Crowley at the same news conference at which he was lecturing Israel suggest the nature of the arm-twisting going on between Washington and Jerusalem behind the scenes. Crowley talked about the United States putting forward an Iran resolution at the Security Council in the coming days and expecting full support in the next three weeks. But given the fact that the Russian exemption clauses in the draft resolution have already made it a mockery, its adoption ought not to be enough for Israel to agree to what is undoubtedly a Trojan horse.
Israel should not believe for a second that such an internationalization would somehow make the second Goldstone-like report go away. Any investigation conducted by Israel that includes international participants who are not chosen by the U.N. lynch mob--or any inquiry which is not controlled in terms of its mandate and outcome by the same hordes--will fail to silence the hatemongers. At the same time the signal sent of a democracy unable to rely on its own to be truthful and just in matters affecting the very life and security of its citizens would set a very dangerous precedent.
It is time for Israel unambiguously to say no to President Obama, who finds it easier to jump on international bandwagons than stand against the rising tide of intolerance threatening the Jewish state.
June 2, 2010
Draft was adopted with 32 votes in favor, 3 against and 9 abstentions
Tuesday, June 01, 2010
This article by Anne Bayefsky originally appeared on Fox News.
In the past twenty-four hours United Nations bodies have engaged in a frenzied attack on Israel over the Turkish-facilitated effort to end the naval blockade of Hamas-controlled Gaza. In the process, the Obama administration's Israel policy has been outed.
With virtually unprecedented speed and only hours to go before the Lebanese presidency of the UN Security Council expired at midnight on May 31st the Council unanimously agreed on a Presidential Statement – with American approval. And in Geneva, the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) unanimously decided to invent new procedural rules and hold its first-ever "urgent debate", with no objection from the United States.
The Obama administration had options. In the past, the United States has avoided efforts to railroad presidential statements or resolutions through the Security Council by allowing only so-called "press statements" made on behalf of just some of its members.
It also could have put its toe in the water and waited until 12:01 a.m. when the presidency would have been transferred to Mexico, thereby slowing the campaign for a middle-of-the-night UN grenade lobbed without time for informed consideration.
Or the administration might have pointed out that the Council could spend its time dealing with international peace and security items constantly delayed or ignored, like an Iranian bomb or the torpedoing of a South Korean naval ship by North Korea.
At the Human Rights Council, the United States could have objected to the invention of the new procedure. After all, it joined the HRC specifically with the promise to end the one-sided fixation of the UN system on Israel. The HRC has carefully-drafted rules allowing it to hold exceptional special sessions. It also has a carefully itemized regular agenda and its fourteenth such session began on May 31st.
Today, the HRC was in the midst of agenda item three, the permanent Israel-bashing agenda item being number seven. All these procedures were thrown out the window and the political lynch mob let loose without a peep from the Obama administration.
Day two of the HRC's "regular" session, therefore, saw the entire afternoon devoted to the flotilla incident, replete with accusations of massacres and genocide. The Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) made no effort to cover up the real point, namely, the rejection of Israel's right to exist and the concomitant right to defend itself. Speaking on behalf of the OIC, Pakistan called for relief from "the yoke of Israeli occupation for the last six decades." Another 30 speakers, both states and non-governmental organizations, are scheduled for Wednesday.
The OIC, Sudan and "Palestine" have now tabled a resolution for the HRC under an agenda item supposedly about "organizational and procedural matters." A few hours ago the U.S. sent out signals that it will agree to their initiative if it is aligned with the Security Council statement. The vote, breaking more procedural rules, is expected to occur as early as tomorrow.
The Security Council Presidential statement paints the loss of life which occurred entirely in the framework designed by its Arab and OIC sponsors. All the civilians who participated in the flotilla are cast as humanitarians – including the armed thugs caught on video-tape brutally attacking Israeli soldiers. Gaza is made out to be a humanitarian problem arising in a vacuum.
There is no mention of its government's dedication to Israel's annihilation, no mention of the smuggling of arms into Gaza, and no mention of the use of such arms against Israelis. Consequently, according to the Security Council there appears to be no justification for Israel's interest in the ship's cargo or its legal blockade of an entity with which it is at war. In fact, the Presidential statement does not mention Hamas at all.
Instead, the Security Council calls for an "impartial, credible and transparent investigation conforming to international standards." That's code language for a repeat of the UN-sponsored investigation of the 2009 Gaza war. The investigation in that case produced the widely-discredited, but politically toxic, Goldstone Report.
It was headed by the former South African judge, Richard Goldstone, later exposed as an appointee of the apartheid regime who sentenced many black defendants tried under apartheid laws to death. It may turn out that the investigation in this instance is handed off to 9/11 conspiracy enthusiast and current UN special investigator on Israel, Richard Falk, who issued a statement yesterday in support of more "urgent action."
The Obama administration chose to join the HRC despite the fact that the HRC's reputation preceded it: the HRC has adopted more resolutions and decisions condemning Israel than all other 191 states in the world combined. Having made its bed with the Council, however, the Obama administration is now lying in it.
The U.S. statement during today's debate, delivered by American ambassador Eileen Chamberlain Donahue, says "the United States remains deeply concerned by the suffering of civilians in Gaza." It expresses no concern about the suffering of Israeli civilians, paying the price for weapons smuggled into Gaza including by sea.
The policy shift by the Obama administration away from protecting Israel from UN hordes was also in evidence last Friday at the close of the 2010 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). With the support of the President, that Conference adopted conclusions singling out Israel though Israel is not a party or subject to the treaty.
The agreed NPT document called for an international conference intended to force Israel to give up its (undeclared) nuclear deterrence capabilities without linking it to the realization of the country's national security needs. And the United States promised to facilitate the 2012 meeting. By contrast, the Conference conclusions made no reference to Iran, which is a party to the treaty and in violation of its provisions.
In a formal statement delivered at Friday's closing session, Ellen Tauscher, Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, said: "The Final Document this Conference adopted today advances President Obama's vision." She called it a "forward-looking and balanced action plan" and described negotiations as resulting in "a thorough review and constructive outcome."
At the meeting that was to have taken place today between President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Netanyahu was reported to have hoped for assurances from the President that he would not advance another UN-driven onslaught against Israel. In view of the administration's willingness to participate in just such events days later, a positive response – and improvement in the Obama administration's relations with Israel – is even more unlikely.
May 31, 2010