European Union Shows Lack of Will to Defend Israel at UNHRC
Yet again, the European Union has demonstrated a lack of will in defending a sister democracy under attack from an organization that it has included on its own terrorism list.
One day after the EU’s foreign ministers adopted a statement which called for both the disarming of Hamas and endorsed Israel’s “legitimate right to defend itself,” nine European countries abstained on a one-sided United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) resolution harshly critical of Israel.
On July 22nd, the European Union foreign ministers, in a move uncharacteristic of their traditional voting patterns on issues relating to Israel and the Palestinians, adopted language that seemed to express a real understanding of the immense challenges Israel faces in fighting the terrorist organization in Gaza. It went so far as to call out Hamas’ use of civilians as human shields, a point Israel makes several times daily, to the mostly-closed ears of international media and a large portion of the diplomatic world.
Sunrise on July 23rd brought an immediate reversion to form for the EU.
A resolution brought to the UNHRC by such human rights luminaries as Pakistan and Venezuela, filled with hackneyed anti-Israel diatribes for which the council is well known, took off after Israel for a laundry list of human rights violations, including Israel’s pursuit of Hamas terrorists in the West Bank in June and “the most recent military assault on the occupied Gaza Strip, the latest in a series of military aggressions…” The document decries Israel’s “targeting of civilians…including medical and humanitarian personnel…that may amount to international crimes…”
The resolution supports the now discredited “national consensus government” forged by the Palestinian Authority and Hamas in April, expresses deep concern over Palestinian prisoners, decries “collective punishment,” demands opening of the crossings for the flow of humanitarian “and commercial goods,” (concrete for more tunnels?) and, well, you get the picture.
Then it gets worse. It calls for Switzerland to convene the contracting parties to the Fourth Geneva convention “to enforce the Convention in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.”
The coup de grace was to call a new “independent commission of inquiry” to investigate “all violations…of human rights law in the ‘occupied Palestinian Territory’…particularly in the Gaza Strip.”
We recall the last time an “independent” commission was set in place by the UNHRC. It was headed by Judge Richard Goldstone, who, after wrestling with his conscience over the biased anti-Israel report filed in his name, publicly renounced its findings in a celebrated New York Times op-ed.
In the entire four page, double-spaced resolution, there is not one mention of Hamas by name.
The resolution was overwhelmingly adopted, with 17 abstentions, 11 of them European and nine of those European Union countries: Austria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Romania and the United Kingdom. Most of them consider themselves to be good friends of Israel. But in this vote, they have incredibly and hypocritically enabled an organization that they themselves consider to be a terrorist organization.
Where is the stand-alone resolution condemning the indiscriminate rocket attacks on Israel’s cities? Has the United Kingdom forgotten its own history, when thousands of V-1 and V-2 rockets were fired from Germany into London and South East England during WWII?
In post-mortems, some Europeans tried to defend their lack of principle by saying they had salvaged the resolution from harsher language. Harsher? This document is a “greatest hits” of the UNHRC against Israel. All but the kitchen sink has been included in its fulminating, accusatory tone.
If the EU countries had been true to their resolution of July 22nd, they’d have not only voted against the resolution, but walked out of the hall when it came up for debate. In each capitol, policy makers know they have pointed the finger not against the perpetrator of human rights violations, but the victim. The statements of “support for Israel’s right to defend itself,” ring more hollow than ever in light of the adoption of this measure.”Defend yourself,” they are saying, but only up to a point.
Compromise on principle is not new in Europe. This abandonment of Israel at such a crucial moment is unacceptable. History will surely have some condemnatory judgments when the books about this conflict are written.
Daniel S. Mariaschin is the executive vice president of B’nai B’rith International. As the organization’s top executive officer, Mariaschin directs and supervises B’nai B’rith programs, activities and staff around the world.