UN’s Gaza probe rotten to core

Webster’s defines “kangaroo court” as a “mock court in which the principles of law and justice are disregarded and perverted.” The United Nations Human Rights Council’s recent appointment of an anti-Israel partisan who has called for the prosecution of Israeli leaders to chair its “investigation” into supposed Israeli “war crimes” in Gaza would appear to fit that definition comfortably.

“It is axiomatic,” our Supreme Court has held, “that a fair trial in a fair tribunal is a basic requirement of due process.” Requiring decisions to be rendered by a judge who has not already announced his conclusion before any evidence is obtained is somewhat fundamental to an honest investigation, but when it comes to the conflict between the Arab world and Israel, honesty has not exactly been the UN council’s hallmark.

The body, originally called the UN Commission on Human Rights, has been heavily criticized for its poor record in even identifying human rights violators, let alone promoting human rights, and for being utterly politicized. After two years of internal review, the UN triumphantly unveiled its “reform” of the Commission in 2006, a reform which consisted principally of changing the name “Commission” to “Council.”

The name-change has done little to bolster the council’s credibility, which is virtually non-existent when it comes to the Middle East. Between 2006 and 2014 the council, whose members have included some of the worst human rights violators on the planet, passed some 50 resolutions condemning Israel, about as many as it passed condemning all other countries combined. Its Special Rapporteur on the Middle East conflict, tasked with investigating human rights in Israel but not in Gaza, the West Bank or anywhere else in the region, posted an anti-Semitic cartoon on his blog, and was so plainly biased that the United States called him “an embarrassment to the United Nations.”

The council’s lack of seriousness was underscored in 2009, when Israel responded to several thousand Hamas rockets launched at its civilians from Gaza by undertaking a ground operation to stop the rocket fire. It appointed a panel to investigate Israel that included members who had pronounced Israel guilty of war crimes before their investigation began. Chaired by South African jurist Richard Goldstone, it predictably proceeded to find Israel guilty of committing such crimes — only to have Goldstone later recant that conclusion, explaining that he had discovered “new evidence” demonstrating that Israel had done no such thing.

For anyone who doubted that the council could top that debacle, its handling of the recent Gaza conflict has removed any doubt. First, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, stated that Israel was committing war crimes by not providing Hamas, which has fired some 3,300 missiles at Israeli communities over the past few weeks, with the Iron Dome technology — so that those firing rockets at Israel could be protected from Israel’s efforts to stop them from firing.

The council then appointed as the chair of its new investigation into whether Israel had committed war crimes a Canadian lawyer, William Schabas, whose anti-Israel bias is so well-documented that his fellow Canadian, Foreign Minister John Baird, pronounced the investigation a “sham.” The foreign minister knew what he was talking about: Schabas had already repeatedly asserted publicly that Israel was guilty of war crimes and, while calling for the prosecution of former Israeli President and Nobel Prize winner Shimon Peres, allowed as how “My favorite would be [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu within the dock of the International Criminal Court.”

Schabas has declared himself shocked that anyone could accuse him of anti-Israel bias. “I have opinions like everybody else,” he said.

When it comes to the Arab-Israeli conflict, the Human Rights Council is not merely straight out of Gilbert and Sullivan. It has proven itself to be, quite simply, a corrupt enterprise.

About the Author
Jeff Robbins, a former United States Delegate to the United Nations Human Rights Commission in the Clinton Administration, is an attorney in Boston, Massachusetts