Opinion

Opinion

U.N. probe of Israeli probe is a joke

June 9, 2010

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Latin America’s immediate condemnation of the Israeli raid on a pro-Palestinian flotilla last week is understandable, but the region’s support for an investigation by the United Nations Human Rights Council is outrageous. The U.N. group is dominated by some of the world’s worst dictatorships and most viscerally anti-Israeli regimes.

First of all, there is little question that Israel’s raid on the six-ship flotilla that was trying to break the Israeli blockade on the Hamas-ruled Gaza territory was a supreme act of stupidity.

The Israeli government knew very well that, far from a well-meaning convoy of peaceniks carrying humanitarian aid, the so-called Freedom Flotilla had been sponsored by the IHH Islamic Charity, a group the Israeli government itself has long classified as a terrorist front.

It was crystal clear that the flotilla’s activists wanted to provoke an international incident that would expose Israel as a ruthless aggressor, and draw world attention on the Gaza blockade.

And while Israel repeatedly warned the flotilla to stop, and offered to deliver its cargo by land to Gaza after making sure it carried no weapons for Hamas — which according to Israel’s count has fired more than 10,000 rockets and mortars at Israel’s civilian population over the past five years — the end result of the incident was exactly what the flotilla leaders wanted. There was violence — nine dead — and an outburst of international outrage against Israel.

Many newspaper headlines in Israel, which by far enjoys the greatest freedom of the press in the Middle East, called the Israeli raid a mistake. “Stupid, stupid, stupid,” read a column headline in the center-right daily Jerusalem Post.

Israel’s government responded that, under international law, it had the right to inspect the vessels, and that its soldiers acted in self-defense when militants aboard the Mavi Marmara attacked them.

Palestinian leaders countered that when you have Israeli troops intercepting ships carrying unarmed civilians and all of the dead are on one side, it’s pretty clear who used excessive force.

Israel and the flotilla members are now accusing one another of having started the melee that led to the bloodshed.

Meantime, the 47-member United Nations Human Rights Council has adopted a resolution by a 32-vote majority that included China, Libya and Saudi Arabia ordering a Council investigation into the Israeli raid.

All Latin American Council members — Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Cuba, Mexico, Nicaragua and Uruguay — voted in support of the resolution. Only three countries voted against it — the United States, Italy and the Netherlands — while nine countries abstained, most of them European nations, and three were absent.

One doesn’t have to be a genius to guess the outcome of the Council’s “investigation.” According to the Freedom House advocacy group’s map of freedom in the world, 60 percent of the Council’s members are dictatorships, or only “partly free.”

The U.N. Council’s record is pitiful. One of its first actions after it was revamped in 2006 was to end its monitoring of Cuba’s human rights abuses.

The Council has also failed to investigate human rights abuses in China, Libya, North Korea, Syria and Zimbabwe, some of the world’s worst human rights offenders.

Of the 40 resolutions issued by the Council over the past four years, 33 have been condemnations of Israel, according to U.N. Watch, a Geneva-based group critical of the U.N. body’s obsession with Israel.

Last year, the U.N. Council didn’t say a word about Iran’s massacre of more than 70 peaceful protesters, nor when China killed nearly 200 Uigurs during ethnic riots. Also, the Council ignored North Korea’s recent sinking of a South Korean ship that killed 46 sailors, and it never passed a resolution condemning Cuba for the 1994 sinking of the “13 de Marzo” ship that killed 41 Cubans — including 10 children — who were trying to flee the island.

My opinion: While I agree with Israel’s right to defend itself from Hamas — which the United States and European countries have officially classified as a terrorist group — and its various civilian front organizations, I can’t dismiss demands that there be an international investigation into the high seas incident.

But putting such an investigation in the hands of the U.N. Human Rights Council is a travesty.

— Andres Oppenheimer is a Latin America correspondent for the Miami Herald. aoppenheimer@miamiherald.com

Comments

Liberty275 5 years, 2 months ago

In general, the UN is a joke. It wouldn't break my heart if America left it immediately and quit financing it.

independant1 5 years, 2 months ago

Wow!

Of the 40 resolutions issued by the Council over the past four years, 33 have been condemnations of Israel, according to U.N. Watch, a Geneva-based group critical of the U.N. body’s obsession with Israel.

The new resolution will without a shadow of a doubt condem Israel, score = 34 of 41 resolutions condemming Israel.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 2 months ago

He neglected to mention that in that four-year span Israel has invaded Lebanon and Gaza, killing at least 2300 people, mostly civilians, while destroying massive amounts of infrastructure, and they attack and kill Palestinians on an almost daily basis, in Gaza, the West Bank, and anywhere else they feel like it.

And while Israel has a legitimate concern about Hamas's rockets, unlike Israel's US supplied and paid-for weaponry which inflict mega death and destruction on Palestinians, those rockets are mostly an annoyance which don't kill or injure as many Israelis as auto accidents do.

citizen0123 5 years, 2 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

Kirk Larson 5 years, 2 months ago

Well, that was a clear and thoughtful argument...not!

George Lippencott 5 years, 2 months ago

2300 is not mega-deaths

I asked before - how does Isreal protect the interests of its people from various groups that kill them using rockets, bombs, guns and the like?

The PLO negotiated. HAMAS does not! Now what

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 2 months ago

"2300 is not mega-deaths"

So, does than mean the 3000 killed on 9-11 was also not "mega-deaths?" BTW, relative to their populations, 2300 killed would be the equivalent of around 70,000 killed in a similar attack on the US.

And 2300 is at least ten times the number of Israeli dead over the same time period. But I'm sure the Lebanese and Palestinians are comforted by your trivializing the deaths of their women, children and other civilians.

"The PLO negotiated. HAMAS does not! Now what"

Hamas came into existence as a direct result of Israel's meddling in Palestinian affairs, for the sole purpose of countering the PLO-- you know, the organization the was once a terrorist organization, and is now "moderate," albeit completely powerless. And over the last few years, since Hamas won the Gazan elections, Israel has done all it could to incite civil war between the two groups.

And what of the negotiations between Israel and the PLO? Israel has reneged on nearly every provision, or refused to negotiate at all on key points.

Is Hamas intransigent and violent? Sure they are. But no more so than Israel. The only difference between them is Israel is better armed, and has a thriving economy propped up by US taxpayers, while Palestinians live under the Israeli version of Apartheid, with Gazans living in a virtual prison camp.

jaywalker 5 years, 2 months ago

"And over the last few years, since Hamas won the Gazan elections, Israel has done all it could to incite civil war between the two groups"

Right. It's been Israel repeatedly vowing to eradicate their neighbor, promising not to stop their attacks until every last one is wiped from the face of the Earth. Hamas, Hezbollah, Al Qaeda -- they're the Good Guys! You tell 'em, bozo!

George Lippencott 5 years, 2 months ago

mega - 10^6.

I think the civil war internal to the "cause" would do just fine if Israel went away.

Don't spit on supermans cape. As I said elsewhere this is not a game. Your kill my civilians and I will kill as many of you as I can (note: I do not target civilians (as Hamas does) but recognize that if your combatants hide among your civilians the latter will get hurt. It is also hard to distinguish between civilians and military when nobody wears uniforms so you can not tell who is who (other than somebody in some location shot at you.)

You sure have it in for Israel and I am sorrry but I do not buy your propaganda.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 2 months ago

"Your kill my civilians and I will kill as many of you as I can"

You, Hamas, and Israel think exactly alike.

" (note: I do not target civilians (as Hamas does)"

note: so does Israel, and unlike when Hamas does it, civilians actually die, sometimes by the hundreds or more.

jaywalker 5 years, 2 months ago

So bozo's problem is that the side he prefers isn't very good at this game.

Kyle Reed 5 years, 2 months ago

"...those rockets are mostly an annoyance which don't kill or injure as many Israelis as auto accidents do."

"But I'm sure the Lebanese and Palestinians are comforted by your trivializing the deaths of their women, children and other civilians.

You might want to look up the definition of irony. You followed up our own statement with a condemnation of the exact type of statement you used.

You aren't a bozo, you're an idiot.

jaywalker 5 years, 2 months ago

Feel like rolling the dice and going out for a slice of pizza in Tel Aviv, bozo?

Mixolydian 5 years, 2 months ago

10,000 rockets and mortars at Israel’s civilian population over the past five years..

                                   vs.

Bad press

Pretty easy choice and Israel picked the correct one. It would have been stupid to allow the ships to break the blockade.

Flap Doodle 5 years, 2 months ago

Too many words in the headline. "U.N. is a joke" There, I fixed it for you.

gl0ck0wn3r 5 years, 2 months ago

The UN is a tired organization. Its time has past.

Brent Garner 5 years, 2 months ago

Get the US out of the UN and the UN out of the US! Add getting the US out of the World Bank and IMF to that!

monkeyspunk 5 years, 2 months ago

He said "probe".

I think people make too much about this whole "dictatorship" or "partly free" label.

How many countries that are "partly free" and friends of the United States, would still be friends if they were "totally free". I'll answer for you. Not many. An excellent example is Egypt. Egypt's elections have been considered some of the most corrupt, yet we turn a blind eye and shell out billions to the Egyptians for their cooperation when it comes to the Israel-Palestine issue. One round of truly free elections would result in an Egypt that is not friendly to the US and belligerent toward Israel.

Dictatorship and our friend = OK Dictatorship and not our friend = Watch Out! We're the Spaceballs!

George Lippencott 5 years, 2 months ago

I don't agree with you. IMHO, most rational nations pursue their own interests.. I belive it was Disraeli that opined something about interests as opposed to friends.

Ron Holzwarth 5 years, 2 months ago

I read an incredibly interesting opinion article on Jpost.com. I clipped out portions of it. Site: http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Columnists/Article.aspx?id=177889

It begins:

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict saves lives By SETH J. FRANTZMAN

All governments, except the US, a few African countries and tiny Polynesian nations, use Israel as a way to distract their people from issues at home. Israel provides catharsis for local problems.

People often ignore the tremendous amount of good the Israeli-Palestinian conflict does for humanity. It provides endless hours of entertainment, a place to project one’s anger, a way to ignore problems at home and in so doing, it may actually save lives by preventing local conflicts through distracting people and encouraging them to focus their hate and emotions at a far off place they cannot change.

People often view the world’s obsession with the conflict in one of two ways. Some believe the fact Israel is condemned yearly by the UN, that a special agency exists for the Palestinians that does not exist for any other group, that the death of one Palestinian is reported around the world, while the death of 100,000 Africans is routinely ignored, is evidence of modern anti-Semitism, especially by Europeans and Muslims.

how it is possible that so many South Koreans threatened to protest Shimon Peres’s visit in the wake of the Gaza flotilla, causing the government to downgrade the visit’s status? They didn’t do it because of morality. They didn’t do it because they are anti- Semites. They did it because it provides them comfort and distraction from the problems at hand. In March North Korea sank a South Korean ship, killing 46 sailors. War was in the air as South Korea struggled to find a way to retaliate.

Turkey has real problems with the Kurds and there is a vicious antipathy between the ruling Islamists and secular nationalist opposition. On the same day that nine “activists” died on the Gaza flotilla, six Turkish soldiers were gunned down by Kurdish rebels. Yet Turks didn’t bury them in a mass ceremony or protest about that. Instead their attention was focused on Israel. Israel is good for Turkey; it saves the Turks from themselves and their own problems.

The conflict is the greatest show on Earth.

George Lippencott 5 years, 2 months ago

The UN is no better or worse than its member states. I don't think there is a lot of precedence for being judged by your sworn enemies many of whom are on the commission conducting the UN "investigation"

And by the by, I have no problem with Israel’s intentions in this matter. I am disappointed in their execution. I can not imagine they did not know about the "bad guys" on the one ship. Going in with less than overwhelming force was at best stupid. We did not need this problem on top of all the other problems here and in the world at large.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 2 months ago

"Going in with less than overwhelming force was at best stupid."

All available evidence is that they did go in with overwhelming force, and had every intention of inflicting casualties, and with nine dead and many seriously injured, they succeeded.

jaywalker 5 years, 2 months ago

Spoken like someone who doesn't have a clue what he's talking about. If the commando's had gone in with "overwhelming force" they wouldn't have had multiple men wounded by bottles and clubs, bozo. Anyone holding anything would have been taken out immediately. Shame you don't have an ounce of rationality in that pinhead of yours. Even a smidgen could lend a little credibility to your wholly biased rants.

Jay Keffer 5 years, 2 months ago

Think the UN will be unbiased? Maybe along the lines of Rueters:

Once again the Reuters "news” agency is under fire for distributing doctored photos. This time the agency’s consciousness-raising photo “journalists” decided to hide the knife in the hand of a “peace” activist and the blood stains and wounds on an Israeli naval commando who had boarded the Mavi Marmara ship during the deadly clash last week.

In 2006, the “news” agency had photoshopped pictures of the Israeli bombing of Beirut and of fighter jets firing missiles during the Second Lebanon War.

Abdu Omar 5 years, 2 months ago

Oh really! Hmm, My 12 year old cousin was running down the road in Beruit trying to get a seat on a bus that would take them to the Syrian border and out of Lebanon when two or three Israeli jets strafed him on both sides then bombed to smitherines the building where people were trying to buy tickets on the bus. Civilians, they were trying to get out of the way and Israel bombed them anyway. Lost lots of relatives, all of whom were American citizens and one was a decorated soldier of Vietnam with the Medal of Honor. They were there visiting their grandmother who was later killed by those peace loving Israelis.

Tell me: where is the justice? Why should innocent people die so that the Israelis can rule all of Palestine? What has Lebanon to do with it? It is a fact that they want the whole region and will do anything to get it. they depend upon the Bible beaters to support them, although they are killing Christians too.

George Lippencott 5 years, 2 months ago

Please provide the name of the MOH recipient! There are few of those and most of late have been posthumous so I must have missed the press coverage, as I would not presume that any of our press would ignore such an event – even if in Israel’s pocket

George Lippencott 5 years, 2 months ago

Oh, by the way Hamas, who controls most of southern Lebanon, has been shooting at Israel from Lebanon (although not lately). The Israelis shoot back. I recall no report of Israeli attacks on Beirut for many years. The attacks I remember were when Israel went after the people firing at them from across their northern border and took most of southern Lebanon as a buffer. Perhaps you could provide more detail (dates and locations for instance)

George Lippencott 5 years, 2 months ago

wounded_soldier (anonymous) replies…

Are we pulling a Blumenthal here?

George Lippencott 5 years, 2 months ago

wounded_soldier (anonymous) replies…

Deafening silence. Am I to assume a bit of literary license in your post on family losses in Lebanon?

Your point that the Lebanese people have been suffering is valid. Hamas, Syria, the PLO, Israel and the government of Lebanon has had open season on various components of the Lebanese population.

I do not think Israel has been as bad as or worse than some of the others.

One could argue that Hamas has practiced a form of ethnic cleansing along the northern Israeli border where they have pretty much driven out the Christians that used to live there. Of course they came to live there because the Israelis drove out the people who were harboring the PLO "fighters" who were shooting at them. And so it goes.

IMHO there is much mud to throw at everybody but I reject your notion that Israel is the principal culprit. That is sheer propaganda.

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