Disgrace at Durban 2

The United Nations enjoys what is known as the “halo effect”, whereby, because of its supposed humanitarian focus and promotion of universal values, it is insulated from scrutiny and is regarded as above reproach by the media, which often holds international bodies such as the UN to be a reference and a guiding moral light.

HonestReporting has regularly attempted to redress the balance, focusing on some of the long list of discriminatory actions by the UN against Israel and highlighting shortcomings within the international organization that the media failed to cover.

  • Sept. 2001: The first Durban anti-racist conference that descended into the most hate-filled festival of anti-Semitism since the end of WW2.
  • July 2004: The UN’s International Court of Justice rules against Israel’s security barrier, failing to even mention the Palestinian terrorism that prompted its construction in the first place.
  • Oct. 2004: Ignored by the media, the head of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency in Gaza admits that Hamas members are on his payroll.
  • June 2006: The new UN Human Rights Council is inaugurated. It quickly focuses on singling Israel out for condemnation while ignoring the worst cases of human rights abuses around the world.
  • Nov. 2006: “Special Raporteur on Palestine to the UN Human Rights Council” John Dugard writes that Israel “has many of the worst characteristics of apartheid.”
  • Jan. 2009: UN staff in Gaza accuse Israel of shelling a UN school, killing 43 civilians. The story is later proven to be false and John Ging, UNRWA’s operations director in Gaza is forced to admit that the mortar shells landed outside of the school and that nobody inside was killed. The UN’s incorrect public pronouncements however, were responsible for letting the story turn into another anti-Israel libel.

In October 2008, HonestReporting updated you on the preparations for the Durban Review Conference currently taking place in Geneva, Switzerland. Led by a committee consisting of human rights violators such as Libya, Iran and Cuba, the writing was already on the wall for Durban 2.

But is the “halo effect” starting to dissipate? The UN’s aura of high morality took a beating as Durban 2 gave a platform to Iran’s President Ahmadinejad. As the Dallas Morning News mused:

After all, giving the Holocaust-denying fruitcake Ahmadinejad a platform to lecture the world about racism is like inviting Bernie Madoff to headline a global conference on business ethics.

While those countries that staged a walk-out during Ahmadinejad’s vitriol are to be commended, many media outlets, particularly outside of the US and Canada, which decided to boycott the conference in its totality, have failed to grasp the significance of the final conference communique, which has been signed earlier than expected on Tuesday instead of the end of the week to avoid further controversies.

For, as the New York Times states:

While there have been improvements in the communique, as now written, it would affirm the conclusions of the last one, implicitly still singling out Israel.

The United Nations conference can never have credibility, or value, if it is used to attack one country Israel especially when so many other countries have truly abysmal human rights records, including China, Sudan and Iran.

In stark contrast to the UN’s tarnished integrity, The Australian noted that Australia’s quest for a temporary seat on the Security Council could be damaged by its boycott of Durban 2. However, in stark contrast to the UN’s tarnished integrity, the paper concluded:

Before Durban II, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, said participants would “be judged harshly” if the conference failed. So they will be. Some nations, rightly, walked out as the Iranian President spoke. Whatever the cost of our non-participation in terms of votes for the Security Council, Australia was right to have no part of it.

Predictably, although there was almost wall-to-wall condemnation of Ahmadinejad, some media outlets expressed regret that his appearance had perhaps vindicated Israel’s concerns. The Guardian wrote:

It makes whatever desire there is within the UN to investigate allegations of Israeli war crimes in Gaza that much harder to realise, as the UN as a whole is tainted by the Iranian leader’s presence at one conference.

Other UK papers, such as The Times and Daily Telegraph admonished the British government for attending Durban 2 even before Ahmadinejad’s outburst. (See HonestReporting UK for more details.)

Sadly, as Gerald Steinberg in the Wall Street Journal points out:

Once again, the obsessive focus on the Jewish state meant that the real problems of racism and genocide were largely ignored at this U.N. conference. Only outside the official U.N. antiracism conference, at well-attended “counterconferences” organized by NGOs such as U.N. Watch, did the real victims of racism and mass murder get the attention they deserved.

Only at those counterconferences could one witness moving presentations by victims of Iranian oppression, survivors of the Rwandan genocide and the continuing slaughter in Darfur.

‘DI
SPROPORTIONATE’ COVERAGE OF HAMAS WAR CRIMES

Accusations of Israeli “war crimes” were all the rage recently, particularly in The Guardian, which spent a month in Gaza “investigating” before producing a barrage of articles and online videos attacking the IDF’s actions. While the paper has also now covered a new Human Rights Watch report documenting Hamas war crimes, we share the skepticism of Richard Cohen in the Washington Post:

No doubt the Human Rights Watch report will be ignored or dismissed in the greater cause of demonizing Israel. This has been the trend of late. No doubt, too, some will excuse Hamas’s criminality as the inevitable result of Israeli actions — the Officer Krupke School of Behavior made famous by the singing gang members of “West Side Story.” But as much as some would like to criticize Israel — and I have done so myself — they still have a minimal obligation to acknowledge the difference in core values between Israel and its enemies.

SPECIAL EVENTS: HR CEO IN CALIFORNIA

On Tuesday, April 28 at 7pm, HonestReporting’s CEO Joe Hyams will be speaking on “Media Bias – Fact or Fiction at Sonoma State University, sponsored by SSU Hillel and the Sonoma County Israel Action Committee.

On Wednesday, April 29 at 3.30pm, Joe will also be speaking at the Beth Ami Synagogue in Santa Rosa.

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