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UN Vote on Israel Ignored by "Skeptical" Media (english)
by Patrick Keaney
Email: PKeaney (nospam) neway.com
16 Apr 2003
Modified: 18 Apr 2003
UN Vote on Israel Ignored by "Skeptical" Media
Today's New York Times contains an article in its "A Nation at War"
section (how long is this section going to be around for?) about what
I've called the "FOX-ification" of the TV media. "Cable's War Coverage
Suggests a New 'Fox Effect' on Television Journalism," by Jim Rutenberg, suggests that "Fox has brought prominence to a new sort of TV journalism that casts aside traditional notions of objectivity, holds contempt for dissent and eschews the skepticism of government at mainstream journalism's core." You can read the entire article here:
It's interesting to note Rutenberg's assumption of "the skepticism of
government at mainstream journalism's core." This article appeared in
the Times, this country's "newspaper of record," and it's probably fair to say that Rutenberg believes that his employers and colleagues
maintain a "skepticism" of the Bush administration (and the government, generally) at their "core." As I've been pointing out for months now, it's simply not true. The most recent example of the Times' credulity is only a week old. The U.S. military killed three foreign journalists in Baghdad last Tuesday, sparking outcry around the world that they were targeted by the Pentagon for reporting the war in an unfavorable light.
The very next day, with the blood of their colleagues still fresh on the ground in Iraq, the editors of the Times upheld the government's denial of the accusations, calling them "groundless." I suspect the
commentators on FOX would find it difficult to be less "skeptical."
I suppose the "notion of objectivity" would include reporting fairly and accurately what is taking place in the world, and what some of the
possible motivations behind these events are. I have frequently pointed out the failure of the "liberal" Times and Boston Globe to reach even a basic standard of objectivity in many instances, and today provides another noteworthy example.
For weeks leading up to the invasion of Iraq, we were treated to daily
coverage of events at the United Nations, including several speculations by the Globe and the Times about possible motives behind France and Russia's willingness to veto a second U.N. resolution authorizing force in Iraq. That's why it's interesting to read the Times and the Globe from front to back today and find no mention of this story, reported yesterday by the Associated Press:
April 15, 2003
U.N. Human Rights Body Criticizes Israel
By CLARE NULLIS
GENEVA (AP) - The United Nations' top human rights
body overwhelmingly condemned Israel's human rights
record on Tuesday, accusing the country of "mass
killings of Palestinians" and a host of other
The United States, Israel's main ally, was alone in
voting against all four resolutions. The American
delegate said the criticism was one-sided and
The resolutions came after impassioned arguments
earlier in the commission's annual session, during
which Palestinian delegate Nabil Ramlawi claimed
Israel used methods of killing and torture that
'were worse than the practices of Nazism.' The
comments sparked an outcry among Jewish groups.
Israel regularly is condemned by the 53-nation U.N.
Human Rights Commission, which is chaired this year
by Libyan U.N. Ambassador Najat Al-Hajjaji. Israel
is not a member.
By a 50-1 vote, the commission passed a resolution
put forward by European countries voicing 'grave
concern' because Israel has not halted settlements
of Palestinian territory. It criticized restrictions
on the movements of Palestinians and a barrier
Israel is building to separate it from the
Australia and Costa Rica abstained from voting..."
I have occasionally written about the significance of the U.S.
government's diplomatic and economic support for Israel as it pursues
its illegal occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip in Palestine.
Now, with all indications pointing to the renewal of talks for a
settlement, the issue of Israel's continuing human rights abuses will
again be in the spotlight - in some places. Not in the "liberal"
So what are the Globe and Times reporting today? The Globe has an
article in its "The World" section about more killings in the Occupied
Territories. "3 Israelis, 3 Palestinians killed in West Bank, Gaza," the headline reads, and the story reminds us "that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict grinds on with its daily violence." In its "In brief" column in the "War in Iraq" section, the Globe ran a Reuters article from the United Nations entitled "Blix will address UN security panel." There is no mention of the UNHRC's vote on Israel.
The lead editorial in the Globe, "Hands Off Syria," concludes this way:
"[Syrian President] Bashar needs to be warned to
cease playing with fire. But in the long run, the
soundest way to alter the totalitarian politics of
the region is to help foster democracy in postwar
Iraq and a just and durable peace agreement between
Israel and the Palestinians."
It's clear from the UNHRC vote that there will be much disagreement on
what makes for "a just and durable" settlement when the world's greatest superpower refuses to countenance any criticism of its client's policies. The Globe's owner, the New York Times Company, has offered similar editorial suggestions in recent days in its flagship
publication, which is also conspicuously devoid of any mention of
yesterday's vote in Geneva.
The Times does report from the region, however, with a story about the
violence similar to the Globe's ("3 Israelis and 2 Palestinians Are
Killed in Separate Shootings" NYT, 4/16/03, p. A8). The other story
reveals the confidence that some Jewish citizens in the Middle East have in the maintenance of the status quo. The reality that the U.N. vote represents is well-known in Beit El, a Jewish settlement in the West Bank. Here's part of the article:
"In peace talks that collapsed three years ago, the
former Israeli prime minister, Ehud Barak, proposed
keeping the large settlements that are near Israel's
pre-1967 boundary. Smaller, more isolated
settlements would have been dismantled.
If such a plan is ever revived, it could exclude
Beit El, which is deep in the West Bank. But Beit El
residents shrug at such a prospect.
'We're not going anywhere,' said Toba Frankel, a
spokeswoman for Beit El. Mr. Sharon's 'comments
haven't raised my panic antennae. We believe God is
with us. My higher power is not Ariel Sharon.'"
You can read the whole thing here:
I'm sure Ms. Frankel believes God is on her side. But, given the
realities of life in the Middle East these days, I'm sure she's glad to have George W. Bush backing God up, should Ariel Sharon waver in his commitment to the illegal settlements.
There was a story in today's Globe about another country that is likely to face censure by the U.N. Human Rights Commission this week. Here's Secretary of State Colin Powell's assessment: "It has always had a horrible human rights record, and rather than improving as we go into the 21st century, it's getting worse." Powell noted that the country's behavior "should be an outrage to everyone." He was talking about Cuba ("Powell urges UN panel to hit Cuba over rights" BG, 4/16/03, p. A16), but the same charges could easily be levelled at Colombia. Yet, rather than ask for the UNHRC's censure of one of our leading client states, Powell wants to send more guns and troops into the Andes.
Were the editors of the Globe or the Times sufficiently "skeptical of
government," they might inquire in the coming days about this double
standard, whereby the U.S. condemns human rights abuses in Cuba, but
embraces them as the cost of fighting "The War on Drugs" or "The War on Terror" in Colombia. Here's some advice: don't hold your breath waiting for that editorial to appear. The same holds for the editorial that questions the ability of the U.S. to be an "honest broker" in any
settlement between the Palestinians and the Israelis, given its routine international isolation in support of Israel's crimes. That one won't get written any time soon, either, not even by "liberal" newspapers who feel comfortable attacking right-wing zealots while ignoring their own consistent failure to be duly "skeptical" when it comes to questioning the government.
The "Daily Grasshopper" has been skeptical to the core, and, because
yesterday was the 100th day since the inception of the "Grasshopper,"
it's time for a little review. I'm not afraid to admit when I'm wrong. I wrote a while back that the U.S. media never refer to Israel's nuclear arsenal, and Globe reporter John Donnelly had a front page article over the weekend that did so. There was also an op-ed in the Times this weekend that referred to the CIA's involvement in the overthrow of the Shah of Iran in 1953, something I wrote about early on:
As for my essay, "Structural Adjustment and the Quagmire," I may have
given people the impression that I was predicting (or even welcoming) a long, drawn-out battle for control of Iraq. I will confess that I was surprised by both the willingness of the Iraqis to fight early on and the quickness of the subsequent collapse of Baghdad. Neither of these seems to detract from my long-held belief that this invasion/occupation is going to end badly. In fact, the honeymoon already appears to be over in several important respects. If I thought for a moment that the Bush administration were serious about democracy for the Iraqi people, perhaps I'd be more inclined to hold out hope. The lead editorial in the Wall Street Journal today, "Pessimistic Liberalism," takes the war's doubters to task and concludes by saying "we'll hold out hope that the sight of free Iraqis will cause at least some of them to revive their faith in American principles."
Not to sound like a disgraced former president, but I guess that depends on what your definition of "American principles" is. In fact, as the National Museum of Antiquities in Baghdad was being looted, and 7,000 years worth of priceless historical artifacts were being "liberated," there was one place in Iraq that was being well-guarded by U.S. troops:the oil ministry. I have faith in some American principles (all men -and women - are created equal, each is entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness), which is why I detest so wholeheartedly the principles that guide the Bush administration. And why it's critical to understand that the corporate "mainstream" media are often no better at being "skeptical" of Bush's government than FOX News or MSNBC are.
brilliant commentary (english)
(No verified email address)
17 Apr 2003
hey patrick, this is really among the best pieces i've read lately on the topic. thanks for keeping a lookout over the liberal media's hypocrisy and sharing your analysis with us here at boston imc.
UN Insecurity Council (english)
by Israel's Second-class Status At The UN
(No verified email address)
18 Apr 2003
Never was an international institution more misnamed. It should be called the United Nations Insecurity Council. For what President Bush did last Thursday in his speech to the U.N. General Assembly was to show how ineffectual and duplicitous this institution of the Big and Little Powers has been not merely in the matter of Iraq but in so much of the council's history.
But, then, what can you expect of an institution where the U.N. Commission of Human Rights (CHR) elects the representative of Libya as its chairman? Libya, if you please, with the lowest Freedom House ranking in political rights and civil liberties. Other CHR members include such paragons of human rights as China, Cuba, Sudan. This is the same CHR which last year dropped the United States from membership.
"There is no substitute for the unique legitimacy provided by the United Nations," Secretary-General Kofi Annan declared last week to the U.N. General Assembly. Libya chairing the U.N. Commission of Human Rights? Rather, it's a unique illegitimacy.
But back to the Insecurity — oops — Security Council, the members of which have been badgering Mr. Bush not to invade Iraq ever since he said in his State of the Union address Jan. 29, 2002, "I will not wait on events while dangers gather." Well, the president of the United States shamed the Security Council by listing the major resolutions, 686, 687 and 1373, passed by the U.N. after the Gulf war and which Saddam Hussein has flouted with little concern for the fact that he had agreed to them as part of the armistice agreement in 1991.
You ask yourself how could major countries like France, England, Russia, democracies all, let this monstrous dictator get away with it and allow the United States to be pilloried as an aggressor, as a plotter against world peace, as a power-seeking, selfish imperialist country, one which suffered 3,000 deaths by Islamic terrorism a year ago. Is there no shame among these permanent members of the Security Council?
Let us face it: This is the history of the Security Council. When the Soviet Union invaded a democratic Hungary — democratic for one week — following overthrow of the communist dictatorship in October 1956 and wiped out some 50,000 freedom fighters, the Security Council could do nothing. That same week there was the attempt by Britain, France and Israel to retake the Suez Canal and lo the U.N. acted with hitherto invisible moral passion.
U.N. Security Council Resolution 1373, which I have before me, was passed Sept. 28, 2001, or 17 days after the ruin of the World Trade Center. The resolution runs for some 2,000 words and is stuffed with such preambular participles like "reaffirming," "acting," "deciding," "recognizing." If only one-quarter of the "resolves" had been fulfilled, al Qaeda would be a vague memory. But it didn't happen, and we live on the razor's edge one year later.
Israel's prime minister must have anticipated President Bush in thinking "I will not wait on events while dangers gather," when he ordered on June 7, 1981, Israeli fighter planes pre-emptively to destroy Iraq's French-built Osirak nuclear facility — without anybody's permission and earning everybody's condemnation, including the Security Council's. Osirak was two weeks from going online. Had Israel not acted pre-emptively, Security Council or not, Kuwait would be a forgotten entity and Saddam Hussein would today be ruler of the Mideast.
Not much time remains before Saddam Hussein goes online again. No U.N. teams have been inside Iraq since 1998. There is still time for the Security Council to act in a manner that will give it the unique legitimacy that it supposedly possesses. If not, the Insecurity Council it is and will so remain.
Anne Bayefsky - February 18, 2003
Much has been made about the election of Libya -- a state with a notoriously poor human rights record -- to the Chair of the UN Human Rights Commission. But few know that the only United Nations member state that is deprived of equal participatory rights at the UN is Israel.
Last week Israel's second-class status at the UN was again demonstrated by the defeat of the Israeli candidate for the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. Yehudit Karp is the committee's current rapporteur. In the past, she had been chosen by fellow members as vice-chair and was a seasoned, well-respected committee member.
Her defeat follows the defeat of the Israeli candidate for the election to the UN Human Rights Committee in September 2002; the defeat of the Israeli candidate and sitting member of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women in August 2002; and the defeat of the Israeli candidate for election to the UN Racial Discrimination Committee in January 2002. In fact, the only remaining elected Israeli on a UN body anywhere is Mayer Gabay, vice-chair of the UN Administrative Tribunal -- whose term ends in December of this year and who is not permitted by general rules concerning time limits to stand for re-election.
By contrast, Egypt has members on all six of the UN human rights treaty bodies. In fact, the Egyptian candidate for the Committee on the Rights of the Child was elected with the highest number of votes by the 191 parties to the Child Convention. This is despite the fact that the leading child rights international NGO (based in Geneva) put out an advisory to countries before the vote. It said: "NGOs feel that she is not very knowledgeable nor reliable on the issues ... due to her strong affiliation and history with the Egyptian government." Translation: When countries of interest to Egypt are considered by the committee, an Egyptian government official sits close to the "independent" Egyptian member just to make sure they get it right.
Israel is also the only UN member state denied membership in any of the UN's five regional groups, which elect UN bodies in Geneva. Elections in the UN are normally based on regional representation or slates prearranged by regional groups. Israel qualifies for membership in the Western European and Others Group (WEOG), composed of geographically diverse states including Canada and Australia. But WEOG, driven by states such as France, refuses to admit Israel to its Geneva operations. This has the consequence that Israel cannot be elected to a whole range of UN bodies. For instance, Israel cannot stand for election to WIPO -- the World Intellectual Property Organization. Similarly, Israel is prevented from running for the International Labour Organization's Governing Body.
Lacking UN regional group membership in Geneva means that Israel is the only UN member forced to sit out consultations on draft resolutions and UN Geneva-based business of all kinds. Israel is refused any possibility of participating in the consultations of regional bodies in the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development the World Health Organization. The meetings behind closed doors of regional groups at the Commission on Human Rights negotiate the language of resolutions on all subjects without any Israeli participation. In recent years, Sweden and Co. in the European Union have enjoyed negotiating an agreed-upon level of hostility on the myriad anti-Israel resolutions with Arab states on the commission, before Israeli diplomats got a copy of a first draft.
Even Israel's limited participation in the WEOG regional group in New York is circumscribed by the caveat that existing rotation schemes not be disturbed. The result? WEOG membership in the UN Economic and Social Council has already been tied up until 2021.
As for UN staffers, official lists of the UN secretariat from July 2002 count 24 Israelis and 27 from "Palestine."
Algeria, Bahrain, China, Cuba, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, and Zimbabwe pass judgment on human rights at the UN Commission on Human Rights. China, Cuba, Egypt, Iran, Sudan and the United Arab Emirates specialize in the rights of women at the UN Commission on the Status of Women. Iran is one of five members on the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. Libya, Saudi Arabia, and Sudan scrutinize the implementation of labour standards on the Governing Council of the International Labour Organization.
In the meantime, representatives and experts from the democratic and Jewish state of Israel are disqualified, blackballed, or left standing in the halls of UN bodies everywhere.