Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Bad Behavior

The Jerusalem Post: How Reform Jews almost got Kicked Out of the UN.
It all started predictably enough. At a UN Human Rights Council session on January 24 called solely to excoriate Israel for "human rights abuses" while ignoring the seven-year-long shelling of Israeli civilians, the Reform movement's representative at the meeting, David Littman, chose to focus on Hamas's outright philosophical commitment to human rights violations - in this case their promotion of genocide.

Hamas's intentions were the "context of Israel's conduct," according to the WUPJ [World Union of Progressive Judaism, an umbrella group for Reform and Liberal Jewish movements], and so fell "within the scope of the discussion."

Stopped three times during his speech by the Romanian president of the HRC (the second time for quoting article 2 of the Hamas charter: "Israel will exist and continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it"), the Reform representative signed off with the Shakespearean lament that "there is a general malaise in the air, a feeling that something is rotten in the state of this council."

Five months later, at the next meeting of the UN's NGO Committee, a coalition of Cuba, Qatar, Sudan, Egypt and others sought to have the Reform movement booted out of the UN (where it has been an observer NGO for 36 years) for seeking "to undermine the United Nations system and [making] unfounded allegations against its Member States," in the words of the complaint letter sent by Cuba in May in the name of the entire 118-country Non-Aligned Movement.

After an apology(!) by the WUPJ, the eventual outcome was "merely" a reprimand for "bad behavior."

Ugh. I hate this body.


Cycle Cyril said...

There is nothing unusual about the HRC or its parent body, the UN, or for that matter the vast majority of supranational governmental organizations or non-governmental organizations. I would even include the EU.

They are mostly made up of elite intelligentsia, with minimal to no responsiveness to their constituency, if they even have one (other than their source of funds). Finally and perhaps most importantly there is no culpability or consequences if they err.

I am disappointment that the WUPJ decided to submit itself to such humiliation. Have they no honor? It is clear that there is no real benefit to remain on the council. It would be better if only dictatorships remain, then it would be clear to anyone acknowledging facts that the HRC is a face. But I would be surprised if any NGO, and few if any countries, left the HRC.

PG said...

All bodies are made up of their constituent parts. The idea that Cuba, Qatar, Sudan, Egypt et al. are not being "responsive to their constituency," i.e. are not reflecting sentiments within those nation, indicates an adorable optimism. Sadly, the inhabitants of these countries mostly *do* think that Israel is acting not in order to defend itself from Hamas, but in order to oppress Palestinians.

If anything, the "elites" of the non-aligned movement frequently would prefer to tone down their rhetoric against Israel in order to curry favor with the U.S. However, this is not popular with their peoples. The tragic example of Anwar Sadat comes to mind here.

Cycle Cyril said...


Dictatorships, by definition, have a constituency that is limited to the dictator and his select few. Yes, there may be a few areas they may have to back off, if enough people outside of the select few balk, but that is the exception.

As for the countries you mentioned the inhabitants have been indoctrinated to hate Israel (and definitely in the Moslem countries all Jews). This indoctrination is a direct consequence of political decisions (and in the Moslem countries religious tenets ).

Most of the "elites" don't want to tone down their hatred because they view the hatred as a means of redirecting their peoples' attention away from the "elites" and secondarily as a means of indirectly attacking the West and America (blatantly in Iran's little Satan and big Satan).

Cycle Cyril said...

This is another example of the UN undercutting any legitimacy it may have. For the Record: The U.N. Partners With Terror.

PG said...

Egypt is a dictatorship that has indoctrinated a normally Israel-loving people into anti-Zionism? Are we discussing the same Egyptian government? the one that banned the Muslim Brotherhood?

As my example of Anwar Sadat evidently failed to make an impression, let me expand on the point: if Egyptians wanted to make friends with Israel, it would be far more in the elites' interest to do so than it would be to take an antagonistic attitude toward Israel. Musharraf was in a similar position in Pakistan -- it would have been great for him if Pakistanis loved Israel and America. Egyptian and Pakistani sentiment being what it is, however, these "elites" have to take a public pose of anti-Zionism in order to avoid being undercut by far more stridently Islamic elements in their countries.

schiller1979 said...
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Cycle Cyril said...

Egypt may have banned the Muslim Brotherhood but only because it was trying to undermine Mubarak. In the meanwhile Mubarak has authorized, for example, via government run TV, a show that was a take off of the Elders of Zion.

It is not in the interest of the elite to have a true peace with Israel. First of all they want to stay in power. If they eliminate the redirection of the people's attention it will be focused on them. In addition, as Sadat discovered, the religious tenets of Islam preclude any true peace. For the most part the leaders don't talk of peace they talk of Hudnas

Musharraf did not want to comply with Bush, Bush forced him to do so (with threats of some sort according to some).

As for the elites just posing as anti-Zionists if you listen to the majority of them in their native language (via memri.org) you will find that you will be able to predict their future actions much better than if you based your predictions on their English language statements. I am more than willing to bet that they believe the former, regardless of their material gain might be otherwise.

schiller1979 said...

Sadly, the inhabitants of these countries mostly *do* think that Israel is acting not in order to defend itself from Hamas, but in order to oppress Palestinians.

How can we even know the opinions of people who live in some of the places you list, given how strongly their governments suppress freedom of expression?

PG said...


Plenty of the countries in the Non-Aligned Movement (which includes India) are accessible to pollsters, and those pollsters haven't shown their populaces to be very Israel-friendly. Moreover, when I have met people from Egypt, Qatar and Sudan who have come to the U.S., they generally are anti-Zionist -- and certainly the pressure in the U.S. is *not* to express such an opinion. Try being a clearly non-Jewish person like me and ask a NY cab driver with a Muslim name about Israel; I have yet to hear a positive response.