Category Archives: Durban II

Anne Bayefsky is an anti-Semite and a hypocrite, attacks on Goldstone cross the line

In the embedded video (after 25 second ad, go to 6:10), The Hudson Institute’s wacky Anne Bayefsky couldn’t be clearer. She spells out her strategy of turning Israel into a perpetual victim to divert world attention from the serious charges in the Goldstone report, the UN’s human rights investigation of Gaza:

I think that the world of human rights has developed a weapon, I call it the ‘human rights weapon’. It’s one which inverts victim and perpetrator. It’s one which is designed to deflect attention from the human rights abuses by those who violate human rights. It is intended to circle the wagons, to invoke mass hysteria which suggest to people that they are under threat, which is in fact, imaginary. And to develop excuses for hatred and for terrorism. It’s a tried and trued formula after all isn’t it? To create imaginary enemies, to exaggerate what is a kernel of truth and to divert attention from the real violations in our midst.

Oops, she’s actually referring here to what she calls “the phenomenon that surrounds the rise of allegations of Islamophobia,” not, amazingly to the rise in allegations of anti-Semitism against all critics of Israel.

She and her friends at the American Jewish Committee’s UN Watch and NGO Monitor are some of the world’s top practitioners of this technique. They do everything they can to weaken and destroy the international human rights infrastructure so that Israel is never held accountable for its illegal occupation, siege of Gaza and more. And, just as she describes above, they do it through elevating the anti-Semitism threat level to HYSTERICAL RED! everywhere, all the time.

(Let’s be clear: The UN Human Rights Council unfairly targets Israel for opprobrium- that’s simply a fact. But the mission of these groups isn’t to restore balance; it’s to make sure Israel is never held accountable for its ongoing illegal behavior, which, it should be obvious to anyone, makes them the worst kinds of “friends” Israel could have. And their preferred method of achieving this goal is to use charges of anti-Semitism to vilify good human rights workers and institutions, peace activists, and from what I’ve seen with my own eyes, Islam and nearly all of its adherents.)

But back to Bayefsky’s talk from the video. “Imaginary enemy” #1 of the Jewish people? According to Bayefsky, in “UN report a 21st century blood libel, scholar says in Geneva,” it is none other than world-respected-jurist, friend-of-Israel, Hebrew University-board-of-governors-member Richard Goldstone.

South African jurist Richard Goldstone exploited his Judaism to endanger the State of Israel, the Hudson Institute’s Anne Bayefsky charged on Tuesday, slamming the chief author of the controversial UN report on the IDF incursion into Gaza in January.

“Richard, how does it feel to have used your Jewishness to jeopardize the safety and security of the people of Israel and to find yourself in the company of human rights abusers everywhere?” Bayefsky asked.

She was one of the few pro-Israel speakers to address the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, which spent the entire day debating the report commissioned by the council, a draft copy of which was released two weeks ago.

Bayefsky compared the Goldstone Report to the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

“The Goldstone mission will go down in history as the 21st century’s equivalent,” said Bayefsky, a senior fellow of the Hudson Institute in New York and an outspoken critic of the UN’s stance on Israel.

“At its core, the Goldstone Report repeats the ancient blood libel against the Jewish people – the allegation of bloodthirsty Jews intent on butchering the innocent,” she said.

With this report, the UN has rendered the right of the Jewish people to self-defense a “crime against humanity,” she continued.

Someone has to finally call this kind of viciousness what it is and stop putting up with it- she’s an anti-Semite. The peculiarly epic charges she wields against Goldstone are clearly reserved for that most evil entity, in Bayefsky’s eyes, another Jew willing to take a clear-eyed look at Israel’s undeniable human rights violations. That level of demonization, in the context of a continued rise in violent religious zealotry, means she is literally willing to sacrifice him.

But he’s also a proxy. She hates Jews like Goldstone, but also Jews like Philip Weiss, Jews like Naomi Klein, Jews like Sara Roy, Jews like Norman Finkelstein.

She makes my family less safe because she cheapens the charges of anti-Semitism, which in itself is a form of Jewish hatred and contempt. And she makes my Muslim and Palestinian friends less safe because the only way she can make her case it to demonize them.

I first encountered Bayefsky at the UN’s Durban Review Conference in Geneva, where she put together a panel of all-stars like Elie Wiesel, Alan Dershowitz (who actually called Goldstone “some Jew” while on the panel) and (a clearly not entirely there) Jon Voight, only too willing to serve their purpose of demonizing and dehumanizing Palestinians, and all other Muslims for good measure. One Palestinian friend who was also there called it, “the worst two hours” of his life.  I could barely believe that people displaying this kind of outrageous racism- at an anti-racism conference no less-could be taken seriously.

No one should take her seriously now, except as a dangerous bigot, willing to sacrifice not just Palestinians and Muslims, but now at least one Jew named Goldstone, by all accounts a good and decent man, to achieve her objectives of making sure that Israel remains above the law.

It’s entirely likely that Goldstone, who cares deeply about Israel, and who also condemned Hamas for their well-documented war crimes, understands the danger (to Israel) of wanting it to be above the law. If only Bayefsky and her friends did.

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Durban Review Debate: Jews on Ahmadinejad

Let me say up front that I don’t think it’s wise to ignore the fact that Ahmadinejad, while no Hitler, is an opportunistic demagogue (who undoubtedly loves the Netanyahu-inspired tendency to over-inflate his importance). Nor is it wise to deny that many countries deliberately single out Israel while ignoring their own terrible human rights records.

Acknowledging these facts in no way lessens Israel’s responsibility for stopping its oppression of Palestinians.  And it doesn’t disappear Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who comically condemned the UN conference for giving a platform to his Iranian twin. (For more of my thoughts, you can see my op-ed printed today here, or hear me on Beyond the Pale or Between the Lines.)

I was there at the time and found myself rolling my eyes when Ahmadinejad employed classic anti-Semitic canards to lecture the UN on human rights, love and justice. Diana Ralph of Canada’s Independent Jewish Voices, who was at the conference, was more impressed. She has written a spirited defense of Ahmadinejad:

In the polarized context of opposing narratives, it is risky to appear to defend the “bad guy.” Everyone “knows” Ahmadinejad equals bad, anti-Semitic, Holocaust denier. So why defend his speech? I don’t endorse his values and I regret that, in his speech, he did not acknowledge injustice, anti-Semitism, and racism in Iran.  However, it is NOT true that this particular speech was an anti-Semitic diatribe that denied the Holocaust.

I heard what Ahmadinejad actually said (which dropped language describing the Holocaust as “ambiguous and dubious” from an earlier draft— the one quoted by most mainstream and Jewish press).  You can hear his actual speech by going to http://www.un.org/webcast/durbanreview/archive.asp?go=090420 and scrolling down to 15:00.  …
In his speech, I heard much with which I agreed.  For example, he objected to the UN Security Council’s veto rights over the democratic wishes of the world, particularly in supporting Israeli war crimes and violations of international law. He labelled the wars against Afghanistan and Iraq as exercises in imperial conquest, causing massive suffering, expanding the narcotics trade, and benefiting arms dealers. ….Finally he urged our collective effort to “make the world a better place full of love, fraternity, and blessings; a world devoid of poverty and hatred.”

Oxford University’s Brian Klug of Independent Jewish Voices in the UK had something entirely different to say, much more in line with my own response:

Someone might object that, unlike the Protocols [of Zion], Ahmadinejad confines his attack to Zionists and does not brand Jews collectively. But no other political movement in the world is credited with the kind of fantastical power and influence that he attributes to Zionism. Moreover, Zionism is a Jewish movement; and what he attributes to it is precisely the kind of power and influence that antisemitism attributes to Jews. It’s a bit of a giveaway. As is his embrace of Holocaust denial: no one denies (or plays down) the Nazi genocide against the Jews except for dyed-in-the-wool antisemites and certifiable lunatics. Whatever else he might be, Ahmadinejad is not insane.

I have written extensively about the difference between anti-Zionism and antisemitism and the danger of conflating them. But the one can turn into the other. And if it is wrong to make false accusations of antisemitism, it is equally wrong to turn a blind eye when it stares us in the face.

We should not be deceived by the fact that following an intervention by Ban Ki-moon, Ahmadinejad left out one or two of the most inflammatory passages that appear in the transcript … A last-minute response to diplomatic pressure from the UN secretary general does not constitute a change of heart.

Mitchell Plitnick of B’Tselem, and formerly of Jewish Voice for Peace, adds in response to Ralph’s piece:

[Ahmadinejad] said the “Zionists” essentially ordered the US invasion of Iraq (specific quote: “Was not the military action against Iraq planned by the Zionists and their allies in the then US administration in complicity with the arms manufacturing countries and the possessors of wealth?”)

And what about this modern version of the Protocols? “They [the Zionists] mobilize all the resources including their economic and political influence and world media to render support in vain to the Zionist regime and to maliciously diminish the indignity and disgrace of this regime.”

There are other, more subtle pieces to this, but come on, how can anyone who is even remotely familiar with the mechanics of anti-Semitism not see it in his speech? Is David Duke also only anti-Israel because he says Zionists and not Jews?

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Durban Review Conference, Racism, And the Clash of Civilizations

If Durban I was a watershed moment for the Palestinian justice movement, bringing together for the first time thousands of activists from around the world (yes, including a handful of anti-Semites), all united in shining a light on Israel’s growing litany of human rights violations, it’s no wonder the right-wing Israel Lobby reacted with total panic regarding the Durban Review Conference. (One person in Geneva was overhead saying, “We reacted with a fire hose when all we needed was a lawn sprinkler.”)

They succeeded in getting the United States and European countries-all part of the colonial project and in the case of the US, the world’s only remaining empire- to reject any attempts to shine a light on Israeli institutional racism. Hmm.

As European Jews for a just Peace chair Dror Feiler asks, “Is it really such a scandal to describe Israel as a racist country?”

Because, what else can we call a nation whose policies make crucial differences between people, based on religion and ethnicity? What should we call a state under whose laws everyone is not equal? What should we call the practice of granting exclusive land-purchasing {Editor’s correction: it’s land-leasing} rights to Jewish citizens (approximately 90 percent of the country’s land is not available for purchase {lease} to the country’s non-Jewish citizens, solely because they are not Jewish? What should we call laws that allow Jewish citizens to marry foreign nationals and live together in Israel while that same thing is forbidden for Israel’s Palestinian citizens, solely based on their ethnicity?

Sid Shniad, co-chair of Canada’s Independent Jewish Voices, has a great write-up of the conference. Of particular interest- he gives a rundown of Israeli Michel Warschawski’s analysis of what happened in the context of colonial politics. It’s absolutely true that the right wing Israel groups in the US have long pushed a Clash of Civilizations framework, which suggests Jews/Christians and Muslims are essential enemies. (And which the vital partnerships of Muslims and Jews in the peace movement shows to be completely absurd.) Of course, the heightened Nazification of Muslims/Arabs, adds on a whole new, disturbing layer. Demonization of a group is a linguistic precursor to annihilation. It makes bombing Iranians, for example, OK.

Michel Warschawski of the Alternate Information Center in Israel provided a particularly powerful analysis of the significance of the original Durban conference and the events that have transpired since. According to Warschawski, the Durban conference marked a major success in the struggle against colonialism – so successful that it became a catalyst for an alliance of Zionist and neoconservative elements determined to mount a global counter-offensive and roll back the progress that the forces opposed to colonialism made there.

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The “Jewish Conspiracy” behind the Durban Review Conference

Michael Jordan of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency has an interesting piece today about the hesitance of the UN High Commissioner’s Office to actually name the groups behind the campaign to marginalize the Durban Review Conference. Jordan writes:

It’s no secret who was behind the effort to discredit the 2009 Durban Review Conference in Geneva.

For nearly a year before the anti-racism confab, Jewish and pro-Israel groups lobbied hard to get Western countries to boycott the gathering, which they said was certain to treat Israel unfairly, just as the first Durban conference had done in 2001.

But why, when pressed, do UN officials give such vague answers?

This time, however, the Jews actually did conspire, albeit openly, to sabotage the conference.

…But for the most part, Durban II’s organizers and participants did not want to point the finger at the Jews for the anti-Durban effort for fear of being labeled anti-Semites.

“I can’t tell you exactly who the lobby is,” Pillay said in a March 12 interview with Australia’s ABC.net. “I can just pick out that it seems to be one source putting out this wrong information and labeling this review conference as ‘hate fest.’ ”

In an earlier piece, Jordan reports a story that illustrates exactly the impossible dynamic faced by the UN office, and how, like a powerless female character in a film who threatens to yell ‘rape’ if someone gets too close, some Jewish groups are only too happy to cry ‘anti-Semite’ if you get too close. In some ways, its the nuclear option for powerless people. (Worse, as I have amply documented, these Jewish/Israel lobby groups sponsored a range of sessions demonizing and attacking the UN, Arabs, Muslims, Iran and Palestinians, all with Orwellian titles about fighting bigotry and anti-Semitism.)

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Countering Palestinian/Nazi analogy and Never again, for all

A must-read for fighting back- Moshe Yaroni watched Alan Dershowitz’s shameful association of Palestinians with Nazis and deconstructs the arguments:

Let’s be clear about Hajj Amin: he was a venomous anti-Semite, and his hatred eclipsed the bounds of the Palestinian national struggle. There is no disputing that he worked with the Nazis and that he espoused murderous hatred of Jews, not just Zionism. But such diverse scholars as Zvi Elpeleg, Idith Zertal and Peter Novick have all concluded that his actual role in Nazi plans was insiginificant and that, as Zertal put it, “…in more correct proportions, [he should be pictured] as a fanatic nationalist-religious Palestinian leader.”

Meanwhile, Sol Salbe’s Middle East News Service has translated from its original Hebrew this article about Jewish suffering and the Holocaust. Salbe writes as a preface:

Yediot Acharonot columnist Ariana Melamed’s comments are not particularly original. Others have observed the Israeli attitude to other peoples’ suffering summed up in the saying “after what they have done to us…”. But not only does Melamed puts it better than anyone else that I have read, she does bring it up to date. As the UN Conference on Racism is about to wind down, it is important to remember that the “never again” lesson need to be applied universally and that the ethos of victimhood exempts no one from doing the right thing.

Hebrew original: http://www.ynet.co.il/articles/0,7340,L-3703925,00.html

As victims, we’re allowed

Ariana Melamed

Mistakenly, we continue to believe that being historical victims completely frees us of the need to develop solidarity with humanity and of the duty to consecrate the living, not only the dead.

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Durban Conference ends with a bang

This is from the final press statement of Navi Pillay, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, who announced the likely adoption of the final report and then launched into it:

It was very difficult. I had to face a widespread, and highly organized campaign of disinformation. Many people, including Ministers with whom I spoke, told me that the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, which as you know was agreed by 189 states at the original World Conference Against Racism in 2001 was anti-Semitic, and it was clear that either they had not bothered to read what it actually said, or they were putting a cast on it that was, to say the least, decidely exaggerated.

Many others have labelled the entire Durban process as a “hate fest.” We have had some rough moments in the process, but a “hate fest?” I’m sorry, this is hyperbole. It is a gross exaggeration. But it is everywhere on the Internet. And I’m sorry to say many mainline newspapers who incidentally declined many op-eds that I sent up to them. Because I kept urging States to take part, one of the most vociferous opponents of the conference called me the “dangerous High Commissioner for Human Rights.” So if you see a special look about me, that’s the danger. Another called me the “ludicrous High Commissioner for Human Rights.” That look I have dropped since. I expect these types of personal attacks to continue for the rest of my tenure. But I can live with them because I see this conference as a success and I know that you will judge this process in a valid and fair way.
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Indigenous peoples and Israel-Palestine

Harley Eagle works with First Nations peoples with the Mennonite Central Committee in Canada. I was stunned to learn that he has been approached on multiple occasions by Canadian Jewish groups who identify as aboriginal. “They come to us and tell us ‘our paths are similar. We have gotten our land back. We hope the same for you. We are cut of the same cloth.’” (I wrote about former Canadian AG Irwin Cotler’s Jews-are-aboriginal formulation here.)

Harley says they tend to target Christian aboriginal people as well as inter-tribal political groups to form a larger political body.  They invite people on trips to Israel.

But Harley’s group had already been doing an exchange program with Palestinians. “For we younger First Nations people who haven’t experienced colonialism and being put on reservations directly, the Palestinian program helps us remember what our people went through. It’s very powerful, but for the Palestinians, visiting Native American reservations is shocking because they see the future of their own people.”

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Jewish groups and 1 Iranian group yanked from conference

{update: 1 member from B’nai Brith was also kicked out} Thursday, the Associated Press writes:

UN kicks Jews, Iranians out of racism meeting

GENEVA (AP) — The United Nations expelled three groups from its conference on global racism Thursday for unacceptable behavior related to the opening speech that Iran’s president gave denouncing Israel.

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UN Side-Events: The silencing of Palestinian NGOs

Badil[Pictured from left: Ingrid Jaradat Gassner of Badil, Maysa Zorob of Al Haq, and Harley Eagle of the Mennonite Central Committee] According to the United Nations website:

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has organized a series of events and cultural activities during the Durban Review Conference to highlight the issues being discussed at the conference.

Under themes such as the rights of indigenous peoples, the link between racism and poverty, and policing in diverse societies, the side events organized by OHCHR have enabled a large number of stakeholders to exchange views and share good practices on the issues at the heart of the Durban review process.

Non-governmental organizations and other civil society actors, such as victims’ groups and academics, are essential in combating all forms of racism and OHCHR has encouraged their participation in the review process.

To help showcase the activities of civil society actors, OHCHR also made several meeting rooms available for the organization of further side events for organizations accredited to take part in the Conference.

Yesterday afternoon I spoke with Ingrid Jaradat Gassner, the head of Palestinian residency and refugee rights group Badil. She told me they were called into the UN office a few weeks before the conference started and told that they could not hold side-events that were region-specific.

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Is Israel being singled out? Well, yeah.

It’s easy to fall for the extreme polarization here. They hate the UN so you suddenly defend it. They say everyone is an anti-Semite so you want to say no one is. It’s a natural emotional response to this kind of elevated rhetoric, but in the end, it’s not helpful.

In fact, Israel does have some very legitimate claims when they talk about being singled out in the United Nations.  For example, in January, the UN Human Rights Council called for an investigation into Israeli human rights violations during the attack on Gaza. But they neglected to call for an investigation into Hamas and other armed groups.

Or there is the Durban I 61-page outcome document- Israel and Palestine are  the only countries/territories that are mentioned. Everything in it that is said about Israel and Palestine is both fair and mild. The hullaballoo about the Durban II document, which makes no mention of Israel and Palestine, is simply that it endorses the Durban I document. Of course, Durban I also singles out the Holocaust for acknowledgment. That kind of singling out would be greeted warmly.

There are numerous examples of a range of human rights concerns that get, relatively speaking, little attention, while the Israeli occupation gets a lot of attention-almost all of it, I might add, apparently useless, given that we are in the 41st year of occupation. Obviously many Muslim countries in particular use this issue so they need not address their own. I have found myself rolling my eyes when forced to listen to Iran lecture Israel on human rights, even if I agreed with many elements of their critique.

But none of that makes what Israel is doing OK or even remotely acceptable.

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