Hagel Proves Republican Critics Wrong

Remember the vicious campaign against Chuck Hagel waged by the Emergency Committee for Israel, the Republican Jewish Coalition, Protect Our Heritage PAC and other Republican groups? They were wrong. Totally wrong.

The outgoing Defense Minister was a true friend of Israel. Said who? Israel’s defense minister, Moshe Ya’alon said. New Republic noted that Republicans attacked Hagel for being anti-Israel, but he turned out to be Israel’s closest friend.

Do not expect these Republicans to apologize for wasting our time and for attempting to besmirch Hagel’s reputation, though, and do not expect anyone to hold them accountable.

The Jerusalem Post noted that “when Jewish organizations turn out to be so wrong about their diagnosis of a particular candidate — as they were with Hagel — they end up paying a price”:

The next time they attempt to campaign against a nomination they will inevitably be less convincing. It would, therefore, be prudent to save clout and credibility for the truly important battles. The nomination of Hagel, it turns out, certainly wasn’t one of them.

Many of the same Republicans who blasted Hagel also “warned” us about Samantha Power, who blasted U.N. prejudice against Israel last week:

[T]he United States remains profoundly troubled by the repetitive and disproportionate number of one-sided General Assembly resolutions condemning Israel — a total of 18 this year.

This grossly one-sided approach damages the prospects for peace by undermining trust between parties and damaging the kind of international support critical to achieving peace. All parties to the conflict have direct responsibilities for ending it, and we are disappointed that UN Members continually single out Israel without acknowledging the responsibilities and difficult steps that must be taken on all sides.

These unbalanced, one-sided resolutions set back our collective efforts to advance a peaceful resolution to the conflict in the Middle East, and they damage the institutional credibility of the United Nations.

This administration has in common with every administration since 1967 its strong opposition to settlements, which Power also reiterated. But no administration has backed Israel at the U.N. to the extent the Obama administration has.

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How the Western World Funds Hamas’ Terrorism

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) was founded in 1950, with its stated goals of providing “education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, microfinance and emergency assistance” for 150,000 Palestinian Arab refugees.Aida, we will return

The organization was supposed to be temporary, but the number of “refugees” has since swelled to 5 million.

The Palestinian Arabs are the only people on the planet that have been accorded by the U.N. their own agency to deal with their refugee status; the rest of the world’s many millions of former refugees fall under the auspices of the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees, and have for the most part been successfully integrated, transferred and settled.
[Read more…]

Book Review: How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) was created in 1949, after the Arabs rejected the 1947 U.N. Partition Plan for Palestine, and five Arab armies attacked the nascent State of Israel and lost their bid to destroy it. However, the UNRWA’s role in enabling the ongoing Arab War on Israel is not readily understood nor publicized.

This is the essence of the new book, Roadblock to Peace, How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict: UNWRA Policies Considered, by David Bedein.

Bedein, a prolific Jerusalem-based investigative journalist, author and director of the Israel Resource News Agency, is eminently qualified to report first-hand the workings of this unique U.N. agency, whose exclusive mandate is for one ethnic group. This stands in sharp contrast to the U.N. High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), which works on behalf of millions of refugees from the rest of the world.

More after the jump.
The book is extensively sourced with interviews, citations, graphs, photographs, and footnotes.

Bedein explains that the UNRWA was spawned in response to the displacement of about 540,000 Arab refugees upon Israel’s repulsion of the invading Arab armies between 1948 and 49. Unlike the U.N. mandate for all other refugees on the planet, from its beginnings, UNRWA has avoided any permanent solution to the predicament of these refugees, and instead focuses on their so-called right to “return” to Palestine.

As Bedein says, the UNRWA’s mandate is ostensibly “to provide humanitarian aid (education, health care, welfare assistance, social services) but it has instead absolved itself from any responsibility to resolve the plight of the Arab refugees and their descendants, thus transforming their plight into a political tool.”

This is key to comprehending why the Arabs cannot and will not end the conflict: A theological component, which Westerners often ignore, encompasses a portrayal of victimization and “occupation” by the hated Jews, whom they treat as dhimmi, “proteges,” in Muslim countries.

The assumption that the UNRWA would have a limited lifespan has been proven woefully incorrect. Instead, it is a behemoth, operating 59 refugee camps in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Gaza, Judea and Samaria (defined as the “West Bank”) and Jerusalem. As of 2011, it had 29,000 staff members. By contrast, the UNHCR has 7,200 employees who serve 15.4 million refugees.

The UNWRA is funded through voluntary contributions from 116 donor countries, of whom the U.S. is the largest contributor, with 30% of the money donated.

In 2011, the U.S provided almost $267 million to the UNWRA. Since then, the UNRWA’s budget sky-rocketed to $1.2 billion. This assistance exceeds that of all other refugees in the world.

The number of refugees UNRWA served as of 2011 has swelled to 4.681 million, because unlike how the UNHCR, which counts only the actual refugees, UNRWA counts descendants of refugees as well.

Most problematically, the UNRWA holds that return to their place of origin is considered an inalienable right. This is also in opposite to the UNHCR, which protects the right to find asylum or resettlement in a country of refuge or a third country. The UNHCR’s goal is to help refugees get on with their lives; most consequently are resettled, not repatriated.

Two chapters of the book are potent in particular. In chapter five, “UNRWA Refugees and the Terror Connection,” Bedein writes about how it has circumvented stringent requests from donor nations to weed out Hamas from its ranks.

In chapter six, Bedein describes the UNRWA’s educational system, which uses half of the UNRWA’s budget, and the use of school books which contain material that contradict is professed mission — the ideal of peace.  

With numerous examples, Bedein shows how UNRWA school books often advocate armed struggle against Israel, deny Israel’s legitimacy as a sovereign state and demonize it. He demonstrates how Hamas maintains control over its staff union and keeps it a hotbed of anti-Israel radicalism.

This type of behavior has been going on for more than six decades, and has clearly contributed to the perpetuation of the conflict. Accordingly, per Bedein, “UNRWA should not continue its policy of absolute submission to the political, ideological and propagandist lines of the host governments in its areas of operation whenever these lines contradict UNRWA’s principles and mission. These are things that UNRWA must not teach.”

As U.S. taxpayers, we should all be very concerned that we are in essence funding terrorism, not peace.

Bedein concludes with sensible policy suggestions on improving UNRWA’s accountability. The status quo, he says, is “neither desirable nor acceptable” and ultimately “detrimental to the long-term well being of the refugees and to the possibilities of peace in the Middle East.”

Bedein’s final moral argument is the most powerful one: It is simply inexcusable and humane for the UNRWA to continue to cultivate expectations of the “right of return” and “confer on them a limbo status that prevents them from getting on with their lives.”  

For anyone truly interested in understanding the UNRWA’s largely-invisible but looming and forgotten role in preventing a genuine reconciliation and peace in the Middle East, this is the book for you.

Lee S. Bender is co-President of the Zionist Organization of America — Greater Philadelphia District, and co-author of Pressing Israel: Media Bias Exposed From A-Z (Pavilion Press, 2012).

Milestone Victory Against Bigotry

— by Hillel Neuer

After decades of being excluded from all of the UN Human Rights Council’s regional groups in Geneva, Israel will be formally invited to join the Western group on Monday.  This is a historic, milestone victory for the cause of equality, a memorable step forward in the long struggle ahead against injustice at the United Nations. UN Watch salutes Israel on its diplomatic achievement, and expresses special gratitude to Canada, the UK, France, Germany and the US for playing a key role in ending one form of bias within the pattern and practice of anti-Israel prejudice at the UN.

More after the jump.
For two decades UN Watch fought publicly and privately to overturn the blatantly discriminatory practice whereby the Jewish state was segregated -— in direct violation of the UN Charter’s equality guarantee — into a category of its own, the only nation excluded from a regional group. It’s gratifying to see this victory today.  Contrary to several news reports, admission to WEOG in Geneva is unrelated to membership on the 47-nation council. And regrettably it will not detract from the Arab states’ continued ability to target Israel in resolutions, urgent sessions and a special agenda item.  Rather, WEOG admission will allow Israel to participate together with all 192 other UN member states in receiving regular briefings, and to have its small say in the selection of council investigators, known as special rapporteurs. More than anything, what regional group admission means for Israel is a sign of equal treatment — the removal of a symbol of bigotry and of an ugly stain upon the reputation of the UN.

Hillel Neuer is the executive director of UN Watch.  UN Watch is a Geneva-based human rights organization founded in 1993 to monitor UN compliance with the principles of its Charter.

UN Interpreter Caught Saying 9 Resolutions on Israel “Too Much”

(UN Watch) A U.N. interpreter was caught admitting the U.N. unfair treatment of Israel yesterday, as the U.N. General Assembly adopted nine resolutions condemning Israel, and none on the rest of the world.

U.N. Interpeter (unaware her mic was on): I mean, I think when you have five statements, not five, like a total of ten resolutions on Israel and Palestine, there’s gotta be something, c’est un peu trop, non? [It’s a bit much, no?] I mean I know… There’s other really bad shit happening, but no one says anything, about the other stuff.

(Chair and delegates laugh.)

Interpreter: Apologies.

Secretary: I understand there was a problem with interpretation?

Interpreter: The interpreter apologizes (audible gasp).

Full resolution list after the jump.
Under Agenda Item 51 (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East):

Assistance to Palestine refugees (A/C.4/68/L.12) – Vote: 164 Yes, 2 No, 6 Abstain
“Expressing grave concern at the especially difficult situation of the Palestine refugees under occupation, including with regard to their safety, well-being and socioeconomic living conditions…”

Persons displaced as a result of the June 1967 and subsequent hostilities (A/C.4/68/L.13) – Vote: 162 Yes, 6 No, 5 Abstain
“Reaffirms the right of all persons displaced as a result of the June 1967 and subsequent hostilities to return to their homes or former places of residence in the territories occupied by Israel since 1967…”

Operations of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (A/C.4/68/L.14) – Vote: 164 Yes, 6 No, 3 Abstain
“Gravely concerned about the extremely difficult socioeconomic conditions being faced by the Palestine refugees in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, particularly in the refugee camps in the Gaza Strip, as a result of the continuing prolonged Israeli closures…”

Palestine refugees’ properties and their revenues (A/C.4/68/L.15) – Vote: 163 Yes, 7 No, 3 Abstain
“Reaffirms that the Palestine refugees are entitled to their property and to the income derived there from, in conformity with the principles of equity and justice…”

Under Agenda Item 52 (Report of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practice Affecting the Human Rights of Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories):

Work of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories (A/C.4/68/L.16) – Vote: 88 Yes,  8 No, 73 Abstain
“Deplores those policies and practices of Israel that violate the human rights of the Palestinian people and other Arabs of the occupied territories…”

Applicability of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949, to the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and the other occupied Arab territories (A/C.4/68/L.17) – Vote: 160 Yes, 6 No, 5 Abstain

“Demands that Israel accept the de jure applicability of the Convention in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and other Arab territories occupied by Israel since 1967, and that it comply scrupulously with the provisions of the Convention…”

Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and the occupied Syrian Golan (A/C.4/68/L.18) – Vote: 158 Yes, 6 No, 8 Abstain
“Reaffirms that the Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan are illegal and an obstacle to peace and economic and social development…”

Israeli practices affecting the human rights of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem (A/C.4/68/L.19) – Vote: 156 Yes, 8 No, 7 Abstain
“Expressing grave concern about the continuing systematic violation of the human rights of the Palestinian people by Israel, the occupying Power…”

The occupied Syrian Golan (A/C.4/68/L.20) – Vote: 159 Yes, 1 No, 11 Abstain

“The Israeli decision to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration on the occupied Syrian Golan was null and void and without international legal effect and demanded that Israel, the occupying Power, rescind forthwith its decision…”

Netanyahu: “I Wish We Could Believe Rouhani’s Words”

Yesterday, at the United Nations General Assembly, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged vigilance in protecting the world from Iran’s nuclear ambitions:

The Jewish people’s odyssey through time has taught us two things: Never give up hope. Always remain vigilant. Hope charts the future. Vigilance protects it. Today, our hope for the future is challenged by a nuclear-armed Iran that seeks our destruction.

In the wake of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s recent campaign to present a moderate face, Netanyahu reminded the world body that the new Iranian president has a long history in his country’s nuclear weapons program.

More after the jump.
Netanyahu said:

Rouhani was also Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator between 2003 and 2005. He masterminded the strategy which enabled Iran to advance its nuclear weapons program behind a smokescreen of diplomatic engagement and very soothing rhetoric. Now I know Rouhani does not sound like Ahmadinejad. But when it comes to Iran’s nuclear weapons program, the only difference between them is this: Ahmadinejad was a wolf in wolf’s clothing and Rouhani is a wolf in sheep’s clothing — a wolf who thinks he can pull the wool over the eyes of the international community. Like everyone else, I wish we could believe Rouhani’s words. But we must focus on Iran’s actions. And it’s the brazen contrast, this extraordinary contradiction between Rouhani’s words and Iran’s actions that is so startling.

B’nai B’rith International has issued the following statement in response:

B’nai B’rith would very much like to see the issue of Iran’s nuclear program resolved in a way that puts Iran out of the nuclear weapons business. At the same time, we cannot dismiss 20 years of deception by Iran.

Iran’s centrifuges continue to spin. Tehran has made several feints before while negotiating the nuclear issue, and has continued to hide and build its nuclear program. This is why we must remain skeptical of Iran’s intentions this time.

B’nai B’rith Addresses Anti-Israel U.N. Human Rights Council Session‏


Canadian politicians criticize Falk

Yesterday, B’nai B’rith International spoke before the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva during the anti-Israel “agenda item 7” session. B’nai B’rith addressed UNHRC special rapporteur Richard Falk’s appalling recent comments blaming the Boston Marathon bombings on the United States’ foreign policy, and urged his removal.

Klaus Netter, B’nai B’rith representative to the U.N. in Geneva, said:

Just a few weeks ago, the entire world was shocked to hear and see the bombing that occurred at the end of the Boston Marathon, resulting in the death of three and the injury of hundreds of innocent bystanders. Yet, there were a few contrary reactions, such as the one expressed by the special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories… In the Foreign Policy Journal dated 21 April 2013, he wrote: ‘The American global domination project is bound to generate all kinds of resistance… the United States has been fortunate not to experience worse blowbacks.’

Continued after the jump.

A few days later, a U.N. spokesman said that Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the Boston Marathon bombing and that he ‘strongly believed that nothing can justify such an attack.’ He rejected Falk’s comments and indicated that… such public comments by special rapporteurs ‘could undermine the U.N.’s credibility and the work of the United Nations.’

Separately, B’nai B’rith joined European representatives at the council and U.S. Ambassador to the UNHRC Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe in taking Falk to task on a biased report he delivered at the council, blasting Israeli policies toward Gaza.

Netter noted that only the council can remove Falk from his position, and added, “We strongly urge such action at this session of the council.”

U.S. Calls for Richard Falk’s Resignation From the UN


Eileen Donahoe

— by Sara Fried

The United States called for the resignation of Richard Falk, U.N. special rapporteur on Palestinian human rights, following his statements against the pro-Israel group UN Watch. Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe, U.S. Representative to the Human Rights Council, said:

The United States completely rejects and condemns the irresponsible call by Mr. Richard Falk, U.N. Special Rapporteur for the Palestinian Territories, to investigate a legitimate and U.N.-accredited NGO, UN Watch. His statement and recommendation, if given credibility, would threaten the independent voice of civil society at the United Nations.

Continued after the jump.

Mr. Falk’s most recent statement, which he dramatically and recklessly included in an official U.N. document, is characteristic of previous reprehensible comments and actions he has made during his tenure as a special rapporteur. It once again starkly demonstrates that he is unfit to serve in his role as a U.N. special rapporteur.

His views and behavior, both official and unofficial, are offensive and provocative and do nothing to advance peace in the Middle East or to further the protection and promotion of human rights. We again call for his resignation.

According to JTA, Falk accused UN Watch of “‘demeaning’ and ‘defaming’ his character, damaging the ‘credibility,’ ‘effectiveness’ and ‘substantive intention’ of his mandate.” His criticisms of UN Watch followed the organization’s resolution to remove him from his position, after he blamed the Boston Marathon bombings on “the American global domination project” and “Tel Aviv.”


Abraham Foxman

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) praised Ambassador Donahoe for her statement against Falk. ADL National Director Abraham Foxman said:

We fully agree with Ambassador Donahoe’s conclusion that Mr. Falk is ‘unfit to serve in his role as a U.N. special rapporteur.’ His continued affiliation with the U.N. makes a mockery out of the Human Rights Council’s founding purpose, and undermines the important work of the U.N. If he does not leave voluntarily, the Human Rights Council should remove him.

B’nai B’rith, UN Watch Denounce UN Boston Bombing Justifier

On April 21, Foreign Policy Journal published an article written by Richard Falk, United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) special rapporteur on the Palestinian territories, in which he associates the April 15 bombings that killed three and injured 170 others with America’s dealings overseas and an alleged willingness to act on behalf of the Israeli government. Falk was recently expelled by the Human Rights Watch organization, yet he retains his UN position. Yesterday, B’nai B’rith International issued the following statement on the subject:

B’nai B’rith International is outraged and disgusted by the latest anti-Israel comments of […] Falk, who took to the Internet over the weekend to blame the Boston Marathon bombings on the United States’ foreign policy and, more specifically, its “compliant ear” in regard to Israel. […]

We once again call for Falk’s removal from his position within the UNHRC. His latest string of inflammatory remarks-whether it be on the Internet or in one of his “reports” to the council-has no place in the United Nations and his continued presence at the UNHRC further undermines the credibility of the system.

He is a vigorous supporter of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions anti-Israel movement and has a long history of outrageous statements and actions, including suggestions that the U.S. government may have been involved in the 9/11 attacks and his posting of an anti-Semitic cartoon on his blog.

Falk continues to be an embarrassment for the world body, and thus, should be removed from his post.

After the jump: UN Watch demands Ban Ki-moon’s condemnation.
In a letter sent yesterday to UN chief Ban Ki-moon and U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice, the Geneva-based non-governmental monitoring group UN Watch demanded the condemnation of Falk:

Dear Mr. Secretary-General,

We write to express our outrage over yesterday’s statement by Richard Falk — a top official of the United Nations Human Rights Council — in which he justifies the Boston terrorist attacks as due “retribution” for American sins, warns of “worse blowbacks” unless America changes its foreign policy, blames “Tel Aviv” and exploits a moment of tragedy and mourning to advance a disturbing political agenda.

We urge you to condemn Mr. Falk, the UNHRC’s permanent investigator of Israel’s violations of the bases and principles of international law, for his affront to the memory of those who were killed last week, to the injured, and to the people of Boston. His remarks are a violation of your own policy that UN experts live up to the highest standards, which you set forth two years ago when you admirably rebuked Mr. Falk for spreading 9/11 conspiracy theories on his blog.

Falk’s Foreign Policy Journal article entitled “A Commentary on the Marathon Murders,” dated April 21, 2013, and annexed here, makes three ignominious points.

First, its thesis is that Americais to blame for last week’s atrocity. Falk approvingly cites comments justifying the Boston Marathon bombings as “retribution” for the actions of the U.S.military in Afghanistan,IraqandPakistan. “The American global domination project,” says Falk, bears responsibility for provoking “all kinds of resistance” in the post-colonial world. He calls for “courage” to “connect some of these dots.” Crystallizing his justification of the terrorist attacks, he writes: “Those to whom evil is done, do evil in return.”

Terrorism will target Americans until they reflect upon and change their action, says Falk. Lamenting a “taboo” on “self-scrutiny,” he predicts “adjustments” that will come either from “a voluntary process of self-reflection” or “through the force of unpleasant events.” America’s “military prowess” and “hard power diplomacy” make the country “a menace to the world and to itself.”

“How many canaries will have to die,” asks Falk, “before we awaken from our geopolitical fantasy of global domination?”

Second, Falk conjures up the sinister specter of another global menace by blaming the Boston bombings on the Jewish state: “[A]s long as Tel Aviv has the compliant ear of the American political establishment those who wish for peace and justice in the world should not rest easy.”

President Obama is accused of having delivered “a love letter to the Israeli public” during his recent trip there, and of practicing “obsequious diplomacy.” Falk predicts “worse blowbacks” if the U.S.does not change its Middle East policy.

Third, the essay alludes to the same 9/11 conspiracy theories that caused you and other world leaders to condemn him in 2011. Falk speaks of “holy war fevers espoused by national leaders, the media, and a vengeful public after the 9/11 attacks” which “embraced Islamophobic falsehoods.” This was exploited by Bush White House officials “openly seeking a pretext to launch a regime-changing war against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.” According to Falk, “[T]he 9/11 events, as interpreted and spun, provided just the supportive domestic climate needed for launching an aggressive war against the Baghdad regime.”

Excellency, Mr. Falk’s odious and preposterous remarks insult last week’s victims and discredit the cause of human rights and the founding principles of the United Nations. We urge you to speak out.

Sincerely,

Hillel C. Neuer
Executive Director

Reprinted courtesy of Yaakov (Dry Bones) Kirschen www.drybonesblog.blogspot.com

Article By UN-Supported Palestinian Outlet Calls Jews “Evil”

— by Bnai Brith International

B’nai B’rith International condemns an outrageous anti-Semitic article written by Sawsan Najib Abd Al-Halim and posted on the Ma’an News Agency’s website, a Palestinian news outlet. In the article, the author calls the Jewish people “outcasts in every corner of the Earth,” “evil,” “scheming” and the “root of conflict in the world,” which Allah has “decreed humiliation and degradation upon them until Judgment Day.” The article was translated from Arabic and exposed by Palestinian Media Watch.

What makes this article even more alarming is the fact that Ma’an News Agency is funded by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Ma’an also receives funding from the European Commission, the Danish and Dutch governments and UKaid, the development fund of the United Kingdom.

More after the jump.

Apart from the gross nature of these comments, we are most worried about the funding sources of this so-called news agency which publishes blatantly anti-Semitic content, B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs said. Agencies of the United Nations and governments of Europe, which denounce hate speech on their own continent, are acting hypocritically by funding Ma’an.

The article — titled “Israel is Trembling!” — has since been removed from the website for “hateful content” that does not “represent the opinion of Ma’an or its editorial policies,” according to a statement from the news agency’s administration.

This isn’t the first time Ma’an has published something outrageous and hateful directed toward the Jewish people, B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said. The international community must immediately demand accountability from recipients of funding. The U.N. agencies and governments who fund this operation must cut off financial resources to those who traffic in hate. That’s the best way to get their attention and those others who would contemplate publishing anti-Semitic articles.