Friday, February 04, 2005

Saudi anti-terror conference, the UN and Israel

A global anti-terror conference starts tomorrow in Saudi Arabia. Of course the country most targeted by terror (Israel) is not invited and a state sponsor of terror (Iran) is.

Powerline covers the issue here and here. They also carry this exchange between a Powerline reader and the Saudi embassy:
Reader Thomas Wuthrich... wrote:
What kind of monstrous joke is your country trying to perpetrate in issuing an invitation to its "anti-terror" conference to the world's foremost sponsor of terror, Iran, while shunning one of the foremost victims of terror, Israel?

It should come as no surprise to you when polls show that Saudi Arabia is among the countries least trusted by Americans.

And, no, I am not a Jew. I am merely someone who sees clearly.
Mr. Wuthrich received an unsigned response from the Saudi embassy information office:
Thank you Mr. Wuthrich. One of the foremost victims of terror??? I think not. Please keep in mind Israel is in violation of more United Nations resolutions than all other countries of the world combined. Iran is not in violation of any United Nations resolutions. Image is different than reality.
Powerliner John H. Hinderaker adds,
I haven't tried to check this out, but offhand, I wouldn't be surprised if it's true that--to phrase the point slightly differently--the U.N. has condemned Israel more often than all other countries combined. Which says a great deal about the U.N.
When I need information on the UN and Israel, I first check the work of Anne Bayefsky.

In particular, a Bayefsky piece from the Feb. 2004 Commentary magazine entitled "The UN and the Jews" sheds some light on the issue Hinderaker raised. And unfortunately the short answer to his query is that yes, the UN does single out Israel, and yes it says more about the UN than it does about Israel. Here is Bayefsky:
To judge by the UN’s official pronouncements, the Jewish state is the world’s archetypal humanrights villain. Over the past 40 years, almost 30 percent of the resolutions passed by the UN Commission on Human Rights to condemn specific states have been directed at Israel, which also has the distinction of being the only state to which the commission has devoted an entire item on its agenda.

As for the General Assembly, of the ten emergency special sessions it has convened in its history, six have focused on the purported misdeeds of Israel, from the Suez campaign of 1956 to the current dispute over the security fence. The abuse of this process has gone so far that the tenth session, originally convened in 1997, has become a permanent, open-ended forum; it has now been “reconvened” twelve times, most recently this past December.

Israel has been singled out in other ways as well. In the UN bureaucracy, it is the only country with its own standing inter-state monitor: the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories. Established as long ago as 1968, this body has issued annual reports ever since. Another committee, on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, was established in 1975, on the same day the General Assembly passed the Zionism-is-racism resolution. Still going strong almost three decades later, with 24 members and 25 observers, it too summarizes its findings every year while at the same time sponsoring a full program of meetings, conferences, and publications. In 2003 alone, the UN bureaucracy generated 22 reports and formal notes on “conditions of Palestinian and other Arab citizens living under Israeli occupation.”

The UN’s response to an Israeli military incursion into the West Bank town of Jenin in April 2002 typifies the organization’s treatment of the Jewish state. At the time, even a report by Yasir Arafat’s Fatah movement recognized Jenin as “the suicider’s capital,” a place where organizations like Hamas and Islamic Jihad had sought shelter, among civilians, for their ongoing murderous operations. But the UN saved its venom for Israel’s armed response to the violence directed against its citizens. Terje Roed-Larsen, the organization’s special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, described the scene after Israel’s strike—a strike expressly designed to limit civilian casualties—as “horrific beyond belief.” Peter Hansen, commissioner general of the UN Relief and Works Agency, called it “a human catastrophe that had few parallels in recent history.” A UN press release was headlined, “End the horror in the camps.” Only much later, in mid-summer, did the UN Secretary General release a report on Jenin noting that the Palestinian death toll from this “massacre” was 52, approximately 35 of whom were armed combatants.