UN Watch in the News
February 3, 2008 – Calgary Herald
Human rights are just that — rights for all humans, regardless of political ideology, ethnicity, religion or other category. That simple message seemed at first to be lost on Louise Arbour, the UN high commissioner for human rights, when she uttered her support for an Arab charter on human rights that states “efforts must be deployed for (the) elimination” of Zionism.
Arbour backed away from those comments a day later, claiming she actually had qualms about the charter’s wording. Someone behind the scenes must have told her that cherrypicking among human rights by political ideology brilliantly evokes that Orwellian observation from Animal Farm: “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” As a Canadian, her cheerleading for a charter whose declarations reflect the stated goal of Hamas, Hezbollah and the late Yasser Arafat, of wiping out Israel, was a shameful mark on Canada, whose government has unequivocally affirmed its support for the only democracy in the Middle East. Arbour’s early stance was also a reflection of the sadly misguided position of the left, which sees itself as a champion of the underdog. In this case, the underdogs are deemed to be the Palestinians, although unwilling to look any further into the reasons for that, this faction fails to comprehend that the Palestinians are underdogs because they are forced to live under the thumb of oppressive, dictatorial regimes. They are the victims, not of Israel, but of their own despotic leaders. Their poverty, lack of job opportunities, low levels of literacy and failure to make economic progress are the direct effects of living under such regimes, not of being neighbours with Israel. Those who attack “Zionism” which is merely the right of Israel to exist, would be highly unlikely to attack “Americanism” or “Canadianism,” denying those countries the right to exist, in the same manner they deny Israel.
This type of skewed thinking also leads to the fostering of selective wrath — for example, Israel is often bitterly assailed for building a wall in the West Bank, but the wall between Egypt and Gaza, erected by Arab nations, goes unmentioned and uncriticized. Israel continues to be the only nation that is condemned for defending itself against attack, and the only democracy that comes under fire by people living in other democratic countries, for trying to defend the principles of democracy which these same people otherwise approve. This type of thinking is epitomized by Naomi Klein in her new book, The Shock Doctrine, when she accuses Israel of attacking Lebanon in the summer of 2006, without ever mentioning that thousands of missiles fired by Hezbollah had rained down upon Israel first before Israel finally moved to retaliate and defend itself.
It was equally shameful for Arbour to be seen supporting a document which makes a mockery of Arab women’s rights with its backhanded acknowledgment of “positive discrimination” established for women “by the Islamic sharia (and) other divine laws.” Had Arbour never heard of how women suffer under sharia and other so-called “divine” laws, including everything from not being allowed to drive cars to the fairly common occurrence of honour killings of women by their own brothers and fathers?
Arbour should never have lent any stamp of legitimacy to this profoundly flawed Arab charter. True declarations of human rights advocate peaceful co-existence and equal rights for everyone. Arbour needs to re-read her copy of Animal Farm
Copyright 2008, Calgary Herald
Original URL: http://www.canada.com/calgaryherald/news/theeditorialpage/story.html?id=92213409-f776-47f3-92ac-a2dca4562a44