WJC Condemns UN Report on Flotilla

— Betty Ehrenberg

Today’s debate in the United Nations Human Rights Council, following the publication of a profoundly unbalanced and critical report on the Israel’s defensive raid on the May 31 Turkish flotilla, once again reveals the underlying bias against Israel through its distortion and perversion of the facts.  
Chairman of the International Independent Fact Finding Mission, Judge Karl Hudson-Phillips, said that the deaths of the so-called activists on the boat Mavi Marmara were a result of “serious violations of both humanitarian and human rights law”, that “passengers were assaulted by being kicked and gunbutted”, and that the conduct of the Israel military “was disproportionate and excessive and that they demonstrated levels of totally unnecessary violence”.

Despite the submission to the Mission of evidence of the clearly violent intentions of the IHH terrorists who were on the Mavi Marmara, the report ignored the fact that the Israelis were attacked by a violent group that had articulated its will to become “martyrs”, with the intent to commit suicide in order to kill the Israelis.

Insult was added to injury by the Palestinian representative who said that “the offensive character of Israel made it kill those innocent civilians”, and the Turkish ambassador’s shameful utterance that “I couldn’t help asking myself whether Israel has a heart in its chest or a stone.”

Israel rightly refused to partake in this so-called investigation, correcting identifying it for what it was at the outset — a prejudiced charade that would only repeat what has become the expected, hypocritical libel and blame of Israel by the UNHRC.

“The World Jewish Congress sadly again deplores these biased proceedings of the UN Human Rights Council,” said World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder. “We note that it has lost its moral compass, where terrorism is deemed activism, and self-defense is called disproportionate violence. If the UNHRC wants to regain the integrity of its original purpose, it cannot submit to being manipulated into justifying and covering up terrorism,” said Lauder.

Obama Defends Israel at the UN

Once again yesterday, President Barack Obama went in front of an international forum. And as he did in Cairo, he challenged those present – including some Arab states – with what they may not have wanted to hear.

After thousands of years, Jews and Arabs are not strangers in a strange land. And after sixty years in the community of nations, Israel’s existence must not be a subject for debate. Israel is a sovereign state, and the historic homeland of the Jewish people. It should be clear to all that efforts to chip away at Israel’s legitimacy will only be met by the unshakeable opposition of the United States. And efforts to threaten or kill Israelis will do nothing to help the Palestinian people – the slaughter of innocent Israelis is not resistance, it is injustice.

He spoke first of the great challenges facing America: bringing the economy back from the brink of total disaster, and defeating Al Qaeda. He spoke of what’s been done on both fronts, from international cooperation on financial stability, to withdrawal from Iraq and refocusing on Afghanistan.  He spoke also about the ongoing international commitment to hold Iran accountable on its nuclear program.  He concluded his speech with a focus on human rights, a forceful denunciation of tyranny, and a call for the world to come together for global development as he described yesterday.

But the bulk of his speech was devoted to his thoughts on Israel and the sparks of hope towards peace in the Middle East following the summit he held a few weeks ago at the White House. Simply put, President Obama delivered as clarion and definitive a statement as possible supporting Israel’s security, Israel’s legitimacy in the community of nations and Israel’s existence as the historic homeland of the Jewish people.

Text of his remarks follow the jump.
Remarks by President Obama to the United Nations General Assembly

And we all have a choice to make.  Each of us must choose the path of peace.  Of course, that responsibility begins with the parties themselves, who must answer the call of history.  Earlier this month at the White House, I was struck by the words of both the Israeli and Palestinian leaders.  Prime Minister Netanyahu said, “I came here today to find a historic compromise that will enable both people to live in peace, security, and dignity.”  And President Abbas said, “We will spare no effort and we will work diligently and tirelessly to ensure these negotiations achieve their cause.”

These words must now be followed by action and I believe that both leaders have the courage to do so.  But the road that they have to travel is exceedingly difficult, which is why I call upon Israelis and Palestinians — and the world — to rally behind the goal that these leaders now share.  We know that there will be tests along the way and that one test is fast approaching.  Israel’s settlement moratorium has made a difference on the ground and improved the atmosphere for talks.

And our position on this issue is well known.  We believe that the moratorium should be extended.  We also believe that talks should press on until completed.  Now is the time for the parties to help each other overcome this obstacle.  Now is the time to build the trust — and provide the time — for substantial progress to be made.  Now is the time for this opportunity to be seized, so that it does not slip away.
Now, peace must be made by Israelis and Palestinians, but each of us has a responsibility to do our part as well.  Those of us who are friends of Israel must understand that true security for the Jewish state requires an independent Palestine — one that allows the Palestinian people to live with dignity and opportunity.  And those of us who are friends of the Palestinians must understand that the rights of the Palestinian people will be won only through peaceful means — including genuine reconciliation with a secure Israel.

I know many in this hall count themselves as friends of the Palestinians.  But these pledges of friendship must now be supported by deeds.  Those who have signed on to the Arab Peace Initiative should seize this opportunity to make it real by taking tangible steps towards the normalization that it promises Israel.

And those who speak on behalf of Palestinian self-government should help the Palestinian Authority politically and financially, and in doing so help the Palestinians build the institutions of their state.

Those who long to see an independent Palestine must also stop trying to tear down Israel.  After thousands of years, Jews and Arabs are not strangers in a strange land.  After 60 years in the community of nations, Israel’s existence must not be a subject for debate.

Israel is a sovereign state, and the historic homeland of the Jewish people.  It should be clear to all that efforts to chip away at Israel’s legitimacy will only be met by the unshakeable opposition of the United States.  And efforts to threaten or kill Israelis will do nothing to help the Palestinian people.  The slaughter of innocent Israelis is not resistance — it’s injustice.  And make no mistake:  The courage of a man like President Abbas, who stands up for his people in front of the world under very difficult circumstances, is far greater than those who fire rockets at innocent women and children.

The conflict between Israelis and Arabs is as old as this institution.  And we can come back here next year, as we have for the last 60 years, and make long speeches about it.  We can read familiar lists of grievances.  We can table the same resolutions.  We can further empower the forces of rejectionism and hate.  And we can waste more time by carrying forward an argument that will not help a single Israeli or Palestinian child achieve a better life.  We can do that.

Or, we can say that this time will be different — that this time we will not let terror, or turbulence, or posturing, or petty politics stand in the way.  This time, we will think not of ourselves, but of the young girl in Gaza who wants to have no ceiling on her dreams, or the young boy in Sderot who wants to sleep without the nightmare of rocket fire.

This time, we should draw upon the teachings of tolerance that lie at the heart of three great religions that see Jerusalem’s soil as sacred.  This time we should reach for what’s best within ourselves.  If we do, when we come back here next year, we can have an agreement that will lead to a new member of the United Nations — an independent, sovereign state of Palestine, living in peace with Israel.  

UN Condemnation of Israel is Modern Anti-Semitism


Israel’s outgoing Ambassador to the United Nations Prof. Gabriella Shalev received an enthusiastic sending off in New York from of a friendly crowd, as she delivered the 5th Annual Gershon Jacobson Memorial Lecture, hosted by the GJCF and the Algemeiner Journal.

This historic lecture, entitled Representing Israel at the UN: Challenge or Opportunity?” took place on Tuesday August 24th at the Park East Synagogue. The Ambassador took the opportunity to share the various hardships facing Israel at the UN, and also shared details of positive growth and development.

Shalev harshly criticized the UN saying:

“Sadly, there are countless human tragedies and immeasurable human suffering around the globe. Yet the United Nations reserves the overwhelming majority of its condemnation only for Israel. This can only be interpreted as the “politically correct” modern anti-Semitism. “

More after the jump.

“We cannot stop the witch-hunt against Israel that regularly takes place at the United Nations today.”

She insisted that despite the challenges, Israel must not walk away from the UN, quoting President Woodrow Wilson who said:

“I would rather lose in a cause that will someday win, than win in a cause that will someday lose.”

Shalev also spoke of the dangers of rhetoric saying:

“Some may simply dismiss all of this — all these meetings, resolutions and letters (at the UN) — as purposeless diplomacy, or as mere rhetoric.”

But, she said;

“We must also acknowledge the danger of words. The horrific genocide of the Holocaust did not begin in the gas chambers — it began with the inciting words of Nazi leaders.”

The Ambassador also acknowledged the positive power of words, stating:

“Words, indeed, may have a powerful force. Think, for instance, of the words of the United States’ Constitution or Israel’s declaration of independence; or the words of great leaders such as Washington, Lincoln, Herzl or Ben Gurion”

She also expressed gratitude for America support and the support of the American Jewish community:

“This hypocrisy, this double standard, this double talk, which is unleashed inside the United Nations, is checked only by one country, Israel’s best and closest ally: the United States of America.”

On the upcoming peace talks she said:

“The pursuit of peace will inevitably be a complicated and uncertain venture; but with the security of Israel we will never gamble. A request that Israel recognize a Palestinian state, as the nation-state of the Palestinian people, must be met with an acknowledgement that Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people.”


GJCF/Algemeiner

This annual lecture is one of many programs of the Gershon Jacobson Jewish Continuity Foundation (GJCF), established in 2005 after the death of Gershon Jacobson, the long-time editor and publisher of the largest Yiddish-English weekly, The Algemeiner Journal, Jacobson, one of the most respected and influential Jewish journalists of our time was described by Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel as “a warrior for truth.” Gershon served as a courageous, independent advocate for the most important issues facing the Jewish people and the state of Israel.

The GJCF, which bears Jacobson’s name, is dedicated to perpetuate his pioneering spirit by serving as a valiant media voice addressing the most compelling issues of our time, with vision, integrity and moral clarity, fighting for Jews and Israel in the media. The GJCF is directed by Simon Jacobson and Dovid Efune, and is overseen by a highly prestigious tribute committee. The GJCF is now responsible for publishing the weekly Algemeiner. For a comprehensive description of the GJCF’s activities, please visit the organization’s website.

Picture captions:
1. Ambassador Shalev delivers the 5th annual Gershon Jacobson Memorial Lecture. (Photo credit: David Karp)

2. GJCF and Algemeiner director Dovid Efune thanks Ambassador Shalev. (Photo credit: David Karp)