Geneva, Jan. 23 — Hillel Neuer, Executive Director of UN Watch, a Geneva monitoring organization, issued the following statement concerning the UN Human Rights Council’s 6th special session.
The special session called by Arab and Islamic states to condemn Israeli actions while ignoring its enemies’ prior attacks marks the fifteenth time the Council has done so since June 2006, and comes at the expense of protecting human rights victims in 191 other countries. Because Palestinian terrorist groups continue to fire rockets at civilians in Israeli towns, the session’s sponsors come with unclean hands. The council was supposed to be an improvement over the discredited Commission on Human Rights, but has tragically repeated and even intensified the same biases. This latest move will only undermine the current efforts for bilateral peace negotiations and reconciliation.
The proposed resolution constitutes a classic case of what in psychology is known as projection. It is, after all, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the other Palestinian terrorist organizations, who deliberately fire rockets—over 200 in the past week alone—at innocent civilians. It is they who attack from populated areas, using their fellow Palestinians as human shields. It is they who reject the very notion of a distinction between combatants and civilians.
Israel, like the rest of the civilized world, does the opposite. In exercising its right and obligation under international law to defend its citizens from such attacks, Israel risks the lives of its own soldiers to avoid harming civilians. To Israel, causing a civilian casualty is an unintended tragedy; to Hamas, it is a cause for celebration.
The supporters of those who fire rockets at nursery schools accuse Israel of violating international humanitarian law, when in reality it is they who deny—in word and deed—the very premise of that code.
Those who initiated this session include Syria, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan, each of whom just received the lowest possible rating—Not Free—in the annual world survey released by Freedom House. Another sponsor is Cuba, which just held elections where the ballot had only one candidate. Are these to be the world’s arbiters of human rights?
The truth is that this session was fixed from the start. Those who sponsored it could introduce a resolution declaring the earth to be flat, and it would be assured of the same automatic majority.
The real question we face is something deeper. Can civilization survive—the values of democracy, freedom and basic humanity—when its opponents appear everywhere emboldened?
That will not be decided here today, but it will be influenced by it. Those countries who genuinely care about the future—of the Middle East, of world, of the UN’s own credibility—will vote No.