HEADLINING “Blood, Sweat and Tears for 90 years”, the anniversary dinner of Magen David Adom (MDA), Israel’s first-response service, special guest Hillel Neuer recalled the successful campaign to have MDA included as a member of the International Red Cross, which occurred in 2006 after it was barred for many years by anti-Israel forces.
The executive director of UN Watch, a Geneva-based NGO combating anti-Israel and antisemitic agendas at the UN – who was at St Kilda Town Hall for the MDA event on Monday night and delivered the Australasian Union of Jewish Students Sir Zelman Cowen Oration last Tuesday night – also related a response of a different kind: speaking out against anti-Israel voices at the UN.
He spoke about initiatives such as the Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy, at which victims of the regimes of UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) members such as Venezuela, Mauritania, Sudan, Pakistan, Somalia and Qatar have a platform to speak out against these governments and expose their hypocrisy.
UN Watch has actively lobbied governments to vote against the UNHRC’s notorious Agenda Item 7, “Human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories”, which comes up annually as a permanent anti-Israel fixture. Last year, in a landmark reversal, the UK and Denmark announced they would vote against the agenda item.
“You can do lobbying, you can do diplomacy, you can begin to fight back,” exclaimed Neuer, a Canadian-born activist and legal expert who studied with renowned Canadian jurist and human-rights advocate Irwin Cotler.
Neuer said the UNHRC – which infamously elected an envoy of the oppressive Libyan regime as its chair in 2003 – encapsulates the anti-Israel bloc at the UN, drawing support from a wider array of countries with promises of vote trading.
He said the UN’s early record as a guardian of human rights was gradually diminished so that by the late 1960s, the anti-Israel members began transitioning from a military to a diplomatic offensive against the Jewish State, producing the infamous “Zionism equals racism” resolution – which remained on the UN’s books until after the fall of the Soviet Union – and the 2001 Durban conference at which Israel was castigated.
The audience heard from Alon Friedman, chief financial officer of MDA in Israel, who spoke of projects such as widely distributing defibrillators in public spaces around the nation. He emphasised MDA is not a government agency but is privately funded and depends on the support of Diaspora Jewish communities such as Australia’s.
An MDA video featured gifts of ambulances made by Australian MDA donors.