Human Rights and Human Wrongs

The Human Rights Council of the United Nations (“UNHRC”) condemned Israel this week for using excessive force in dealing with violent protests in Gaza last year. Members of the Council, which voted to condemn Israel, included Afghanistan, Angola, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, China, Cuba, Egypt, Eritrea, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Tunisia. It should suffice to say that such countries have greater experience and expertise in “human wrongs” than “human rights,” and most of their citizens would pay any price to live in a country with the same rights and freedoms enjoyed by Israeli citizens.

The UNHRC’s decision came only a few days after US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, threatened to deny entry visas to the US to any person working for the International Criminal Court at The Hague (“ICC”) who is involved in its current investigations against US and Israeli leaders. Sadly, the ICC has done about as much to advance human rights and deter crimes against humanity as the UNHRC. In fact, since its inception in 2002, the ICC has spent over a whopping $1.5 billion dollars, while attaining only eight convictions. With such a poor record, one would think that the ICC should pursue more low hanging fruit than leaders of democratic nations, such as the US and Israel, with strong judiciaries, rule of law and protection of human rights. Richard Dicker, international justice director at “Human Rights Watch” condemned Pompeo’s statement, claiming that the US was trying to “bully the court”. Someone should ask Mr. Dicker why he is so concerned about US visa bans. Assuming that, in Mr. Dicker’s opinion, the US administration is a dire threat to human rights, why would ICC workers want to travel there anyway?

Another condemnation of the US Administration came from Syria, Russia and Iran this week as they denounced President Trump’s decision to officially recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights. It is interesting to note that the 40,000 people who actually live on the Golan Heights, most of whom are either Druze or Arab Alawites, do not seemed extremely upset about this decision. In fact, a day after President Trump made his dramatic announcement, there are no riots or demonstrations taking place on the Golan Heights. Perhaps that is because the Druze and Arab Alawites living there actually get along well with their Jewish neighbors and have been enjoying Israeli security, democracy and economic security for the past fifty-two years.

In the meantime, the EU is giving Israel mixed signals. On one hand, it joined Syria, Russia and Iran in criticizing President Trump’s decision to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. On the other hand, according to a story run by the British Jewish News, “The EU thinks Israel should replace the UK after March”. There is probably little chance of Israel actually becoming a formal member of the EU. However, this is just another example of self-contradictory policy of the EU towards Israel. On one hand, the EU donated last year  millions of Euros to organizations dedicated to promoting an economic boycott against Israel. On the other hand, Esther Giaufret, the EU’s ambassador to Israel, who supports the idea of Israel becoming an EU member state, pointed to economic reasons by stating that, “We are the world’s largest internal market, the closest market to Israel and the best business environment. With Israel’s innovative and thriving economy, this match makes sense”. Wow. I bet that the Druze and Arab Alawites living on the Golan Heights have never dreamed that they could become citizens of the EU, without ever leaving their homes.

About the Author
Calev Michael Myers is the Deputy President of the International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists (IAJLJ) and serves as one of their Representatives before the UN in Geneva and New York. He is also a Senior Partner at Yehuda Raveh & Co. Law Offices (YR&Co.) and a member of the World Jewish Congress Jewish Diplomatic Corps (WJC JDCorps). The opinions expressed in Calev's blogs may not necessarily reflect the opinions of the IAJLJ, YR&Co or WJC JDCorps.
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