Thursday, February 17, 2005

UN Anti-Semitism

The Wall Street Journal reprinted a speech by Columbia Law Professor Anne Bayefsky on the United Nations' history of anti-Semitism. She delivered it at the very first conference the UN has had on anti-Semitism (60 years after its formation, no less). It's an old column, but an important one.
What does discrimination against the Jewish state mean? It means refusing to admit only Israel to the vital negotiating sessions of regional groups held daily during U.N. Commission on Human Rights meetings. It means devoting six of the 10 emergency sessions ever held by the General Assembly to Israel. It means transforming the 10th emergency session into a permanent tribunal--which has now been reconvened 12 times since 1997. By contrast, no emergency session was ever held on the Rwandan genocide, estimated to have killed a million people, or the ethnic cleansing of tens of thousands in the former Yugoslavia, or the death of millions over the past two decades of atrocities in Sudan. That's discrimination.

The record of the Secretariat is more of the same. In November 2003, Secretary-General Kofi Annan issued a report on Israel's security fence, detailing the purported harm to Palestinians without describing one terrorist act against Israelis which preceded the fence's construction. Recently, the secretary-general strongly condemned Israel for destroying homes in southern Gaza without mentioning the arms-smuggling tunnels operating beneath them. When Israel successfully targeted Hamas terrorist Abdel Aziz Rantissi with no civilian casualties, the secretary-general denounced Israel for an "extrajudicial" killing. But when faced with the 2004 report of the U.N. special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions detailing the murder of more than 3,000 Brazilian civilians shot at close range by police, Mr. Annan chose silence. That's discrimination.

At the U.N., the language of human rights is hijacked not only to discriminate but to demonize the Jewish target. More than one quarter of the resolutions condemning a state's human rights violations adopted by the commission over 40 years have been directed at Israel. But there has never been a single resolution about the decades-long repression of the civil and political rights of 1.3 billion people in China, or the million female migrant workers in Saudi Arabia kept as virtual slaves, or the virulent racism which has brought 600,000 people to the brink of starvation in Zimbabwe. Every year, U.N. bodies are required to produce at least 25 reports on alleged human rights violations by Israel, but not one on an Iranian criminal justice system which mandates punishments like crucifixion, stoning and cross-amputation of right hand and left foot. This is not legitimate critique of states with equal or worse human rights records. It is demonization of the Jewish state.

As Israelis are demonized at the U.N., so Palestinians and their cause are deified. Every year the U.N. marks Nov. 29 as the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People--the day the U.N. partitioned the British Palestine mandate and which Arabs often style as the onset of al nakba or the "catastrophe" of the creation of the state of Israel. In 2002, the anniversary of the vote that survivors of the concentration camps celebrated, was described by Secretary-General Annan as "a day of mourning and a day of grief."

In 2003 the representatives of over 100 member states stood along with the secretary-general, before a map predating the state of Israel, for a moment of silence "for all those who had given their lives for the Palestinian people"--which would include suicide bombers. Similarly, U.N. rapporteur John Dugard has described Palestinian terrorists as "tough" and their efforts as characterized by "determination, daring, and success." A commission resolution for the past three years has legitimized the Palestinian use of "all available means including armed struggle"--an absolution for terrorist methods which would never be applied to the self-determination claims of Chechens or Basques.
But I challenge the secretary-general and his organization to go further--if they are serious about eradicating anti-Semitism:

-Start putting a name to the terrorists that kill Jews because they are Jews.

-Start condemning human-rights violators wherever they dwell--even if they live in Riyadh or Damascus.

-Stop condemning the Jewish people for fighting back against their killers.

And the next time someone asks you or your colleagues to stand for a moment of silence to honor those who would destroy the state of Israel, say no.
Only then will the message be heard from these chambers that the U.N. will not tolerate anti-Semitism or its consequences against Jews and the Jewish people, whether its victims live in Tehran, Paris or Jerusalem.

For an organization formed, at least in part, in response to moral depravity of the Holocaust, the UN has been shockingly acquiescent to the murder and destruction of the Jewish people. Certainly, there are valid claims to be made for Palestinian statehood. But before claims of legitimacy can be discussed, the UN has to at least recognize who the real monsters are first.

Monkey See, Monkey Do

Looks like the good folks in Georgia have decided to take a page out of Tom DeLay's book (hattip: ACS Blog).

To be fair, the Georgia Republicans say they are trying to make the districts more compact and representative of community guidelines. Whether or not this is true (I don't know), it still seems abundantly clear that there were partisan motivations behind the move. If Georgia legislators (on both sides of the aisle) are serious about crafting fair, competitive, and equitable congressional districts, then they should follow Iowa and Arizona in making the process non-partisan and outside the realm of political disputes.

Real Monsters

It is a rare day indeed when I link to Conservative archetype Jonah Goldberg. However, this column really hit home.
"The tragedy of the imagination was that we couldn't appreciate that evil is real and it exists. In a society where everyone is a victim and it's not right to "judge" others, there's just not much room left for real monsters, while society itself becomes monstrous."

We can seek to understand the causes of evil, the rationales, the justifications, the roots. However, we can never forget that some things still just are evil. And we can never turn a blind eye to the atrocities of the present by invoking empty theories of moral relativism or ethical equivalency. For, as the Rev. Martin Luther King reminds us, "In the end, it's not the words of our enemies we will remember, but the silence of our friends." Global liberalism, "friends" of oppressed people everywhere, needs to find the voice to condemn and combat the grave injustices that occur around the world on a daily basis. Conservatives can hide behind realism and national self-interest if they want. Liberals have no such excuse. We either speak out or become accomplices in the act.

Thanks to my friend Luci Hague for originally drawing my attention to the article.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Calling a Spade a Spade

I do hate when people seek to minimize or legitimize the insurgency. But still, this was deserved:
Hopatcong, NJ: Do you, Masland and Dickey mean "F---ing Murderers" when you say "insurgents" and "fighters" in your STUPIDITY? I've grown sick and tired of you "politically incorrect" reporters. Why don't you have the gumption to call a spade a spade?
Rod Nordland: OK, you're an idiot. How's that?

With thanks to Kevin Drum.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Cruel Intentions

Read the ACLU brief for the upcoming Supreme Court case of McCreary County v. ACLU. Watch the ACLU utterly smack down the arguments for having the 10 commandments displayed in the courtroom (at least in this case). Smile and realize that the Court almost definitely will ignore the arguments and uphold the display anyway.

I got the link via Crescat's Waddling Thunder, who, while impressed with the argument, is unsure that the "Founders could have meant anything so draconian." I have never quite understood the "Framers' intent" theory of constitutional law. Basically, that theory says that we should look to what the Framers would have believed a certain clause of a law should do when interpreting that law--even, and here's where it gets messy, when that interpretation seems entirely at odds with the principle underlying the law. There seem to be several possible conclusions one can draw from that theory. The first is that the framers deliberately left their own prejudices out of the constitution for a reason--so that we were truly governed by laws, not men. That, of course, would defeat the FI theory on its own terms--it would be the framers intent that we not look at the framers intent. The second would be that the framers just assumed their prejudices were not inconsistent with the text. However, that appears to be incorrect, and it strikes me as odd that we'd ignore the text and uphold the musings of John Adams (or whomever). If the law says "free speech," but the framer thinks "but that can't possibly apply to sedition," all that means is the framer is contradicting himself. It doesn't exercise a magical power to exorcise "seditious speech" from "speech." This shouldn't be that hard of a concept. There is a third conclusion, I suppose, which is that America was meant to be in perpetual serfdom to the particular, extra-constitutional whims of Madison, et al. I would presume, however, that if this was the case, they would have given us some inkling of it in the "supreme law of the land."

Monday, February 14, 2005

Not a Big Deal

...only the wholesale betrayal of American values. The New York Daily News reports that military JAGs repeatedly objected to Guantanamo Bay "interrogation procedures" (IE, torture), but were overruled by senior Pentagon officials who "didn't think [it] was a big deal" (link: Balkinization). The Lawyers specifically drew a distinction between "battlefield interrogation methods, where slapping around a prisoner might be justifiable if it immediately saved lives," and the situation in Guantanamo, where the detainees were nowhere near a combat scene and months removed from their capture.

We cannot let this issue drop. The only thing more despicable than this being an issue in the United States is that it doesn't appear that anybody cares. So long as torture isn't on the front page and staring us in the face, Americans prefer to just pretend it isn't happening. But if we aren't willing to throw down the gauntlet at torture, where exactly is the line we "won't cross"?

A little while ago, the Legal Fiction blog wrote that it would support a primary challenge against Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman (D) due to his vote for pro-torture Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Lieberman has done more than virtually any other elected Democrat to try and make the party more formidable on national security. However, when he decides to condone torture as a matter of American policy, it is very hard to argue that he has the moral character to continue to represent us in the halls of congress.

Sunday, February 13, 2005


Coming by way of How Appealing, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports on the latest anti-family move by gay rights opponents.
The day in 2002 when Ulf Hedberg won a legal fight with his ex-wife and was awarded physical custody of his son should have been a happy one for him.

Instead, Hedberg calls it a "cruel victory."

That's because the Virginia judge who named Hedberg the custodial parent attached a life-altering restriction: Hedberg, who is openly gay, would be barred from living in the same house where he and his partner had been raising the boy, who is now 12.

At the time of the ruling, in 2002, the couple had been living together for 6 years. The ruling was prior to the Lawrence v. Texas decision, and was based on the presumption that a gay couple living together would automatically be engaged in illegal activity (namely, sodomy). Post-Lawrence, that analysis shouldn't hold up.

The lawyer for the ex-wife claims that she did not request the court's order to ban Hedburg's partner from living with him. However, she opposes the lifting of the order, on the grounds that "she does not want his homosexual lover to move back in," and that she "does not believe this person [the partner] is anything to her son." Note the rhetoric involved: "homosexual lover," which implies that this is merely an eight year long fling (because homosexuals can never enter into meaningful relations) and "this person" (as opposed to a respectful "Mr. Delahoussaye").

Hurray for "family values"!