THE United Nations has long been a place of darkness for the Jewish people and the State of Israel, but nevertheless, it is always an eye-opening experience to witness it first-hand, writes Arsen Ostrovsky.
Last week, I was at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, of all the UN bodies, unequivocally the most hostile towards the State of Israel.
There is no other way to describe the absurdity of my experience than Orwellian, to be in this supposed premier global body for the “promotion of human rights”, only to hear the likes of the Palestinians, Iran, Lebanon, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Pakistan, one by one, like jackals, spew the most vile lies and attacks against the Jewish State.
These great “bastions of democracy” were gathered inside to discuss, not the terror perpetrated by Hamas, the human rights violations in Saudi Arabia or China, the Yazidi genocide or the situation in Venezuela, but rather a whole day devoted solely to condemning the one and only Jewish state.
Watch 📽️ https://t.co/9C2IrEwTKg
— Arsen Ostrovsky (@Ostrov_A) March 22, 2019
At the same time, gathered outside, were over 1000 people from across Europe and Israel, who came together to rally under the auspices of UN Watch, the leading NGO watchdog devoted to monitoring the United Nations to ensure that it upholds its own charter, to demand an end to the relentless, pathological and anti-Israel bias at the Human Rights Council.
I was privileged to be one of the speakers at this powerful rally, together with distinguished colleagues including Israel’s ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Dr Dore Gold; Col. Richard Kemp; Einat Wilf; the United States ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell; Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch; and a number of other leading parliamentarians and Jewish leaders from Europe.
The Human Rights Council meets three times a year and has 10 items on its permanent agenda on various topics. One of those (agenda item 4) is the consideration of “human rights situations that require the Council’s attention”. But then there is the insidious agenda item 7, the only agenda item devoted to the pre-determined condemnation of a single country – yep, you guessed it, Israel.
Israel is, of course, not above the law, however the issue is that the Jewish state has systematically been denied equality before the law – and nowhere more so than here, before the Human Rights Council.
When the United States withdrew from the Human Rights Council last year, Nikki Haley said it had become “a cesspool of political bias”, with a “chronic” and “unconscionable” bias against the State of Israel. She was right.
How else can one describe the absurd situation where the Human Rights Council has condemned Israel, a shining beacon of democracy, freedom and human rights, more times than the rest of the world combined?
Or where the Council voted to adopt a preposterous resolution condemning Israel for supposed “crimes against humanity” and “war crimes”, while entirely absolving Hamas over their violent and orchestrated riots on Israel’s border with Gaza last year.
One only needs to recall the words of Yahya Sinwar, the leader of Hamas, who said ahead of the “Great March of Return” riots: “We will take down the border and we will tear out their hearts from their bodies.”
Only in the perverse Orwellian world of the United Nations does that sound like a “peaceful protester”.
Nevertheless, in this body of mostly dictators and tyrants, it was especially heartening and pleasing to see Australia stand up as a rare moral voice of courage and leadership, demonstrating its unwavering support and friendship with Israel, as reflected in Australia’s principled decision to vote against each of the grossly one-sided, biased and wholly illegitimate resolutions at the Human Rights Council, including with respect to the report on the Gaza riots.
At the commencement of the current Human Rights Council session in February, Australia’s Foreign Minister Marise Payne, declared “Australia opposes in principle the existence of item 7 of the agenda of the Council”, noting that “a separate agenda item focusing on a single country situation – in this case Israel – is inappropriate” and that “it does not occur in any other context, for any other country”.
During the voting against these resolutions, Australia’s ambassador to the UN in Geneva further reiterated Australia’s principled opposition to these “inherent anti-Israel, biased and one-sided resolutions”, adding they “do nothing to bring both sides closer to achieving lasting peace and stability”.
The fact of the matter is, because of the non-democratic make-up of the Human Rights Council, the deck of cards is stacked entirely against the Jewish State.
However, as I concluded my remarks, pointing directly at the Human Rights Council, while holding up pictures of the two Israelis murdered in a Palestinian terror attack in Ariel just two days prior, including a 19-year-old soldier and a father of 12, I said loudly, with pride and determination: “That we will not stay silent. That we will not acquiesce. And we will never be indifferent in the face of this relentless, pathological and antisemitic assault against the one and only Jewish state. Enough is enough!”
Arsen Ostrovsky is the Zionist Council of NSW’s director of Israel affairs and an international human rights lawyer, based in Israel.