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May 8, 2014 5:42 pm

U.N. Human Rights Council Appoints Pro-Palestinian Diplomat to Replace Falk

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Richard Falk. Photo: UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré.

JNS.org The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) appointed pro-Palestinian Indonesian diplomat Makarim Wibisono to a new six-year term as the United Nations Special Rapporteur on “the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967.”

Wibisono, who served as Indonesian ambassador to the U.N., replaces Richard Falk, who was widely criticized for his anti-Semitic, anti-Israel, and anti-American views. The decision to appoint Wibisono comes after a lengthy process that saw the emergence of several candidates, including early front-runner Christina Cerna—an international human rights lawyer from Georgetown University who was seen as neutral on the Arab-Israeli conflict but was rejected by the sizable Arab-Muslim voting bloc in the UNHRC.

Wibisono has made several controversial statements on Israel. In a 2006 statement to the UNHRC, he described Israel as showing “ruthless contempt for the lives of the innocent,” and perpetrating “callous attacks against terrorized and defenseless civilians,” according to Fox News.

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  • Julian Clovelley

    Take a view from the other side for a moment – sometimes it helps.

    The 1967 war was 47 years ago. To have participated in that war or been of politically conscious age at the time, one would have to been born in 1950 or earlier – that is, one would have to now be 64 or older. According to the CIA Factbook we are talking about some 4% approximately of the Palestinian population. The war was against people most of whom are now dead.

    Try approaching it differently, and we have a population of 24, and under, that comprises over fifty percent of the population, all brought up in a territory that at the time of their birth had been occupied for over twenty years, and that even then had within it established settlements, built by the occupying power, that created a situation of apparent likely permanent occupation.

    For most of Western Europe the Occupation lasted nothing like that long – Only in Germany did anything that could be remotely considered “Occupation Forces” continue to exist, and even then those forces existed within the context of the Nato Alliance, of which the Bundesrepublic became an active part.

    The old military settlements of the Allied Powers in Germany have long gone. Even by the seventies married quarters for allied personal were off base and unguarded. In Berlin, British Forces children shared a playground with a German primary school. The old British Military Hospital is now a Cardiac Hospital, a civilian hospital with six underground levels, and nuclear protection, from its days as a British facility.

    That is how it should be with Occupations – they are expensive, but in the short term necessary. They can be brought to an end only one way, and that is by the occupying power withdrawing, closing its temporary settlement areas in occupied territory.

    The West Bank mess seems in some ways to originate from the erroneous presumption that is is the behaviour of people in the occupied territories that decides when an Occupation ends. The reality is that the decision is always made solely by the Occupying Power

    What does the view from the other side see? – Does it see a scheduled closure of military installations and settlements in the Palestinian territory? – of course not. Rather it sees a Conservative coalition in the Israeli Government kept in place largely by fundamentalists and settlers movements, that use, as their excuse for perpetuating the settlements, the old claim “G-d gave this land to me”

    From the other side the people say – “No he didn’t” – and the more extremist of their number add angrily “G-d gave this land to me, as muslim land”. There is in fact no evidence, other than mythology and tradition, for either claim, and the secular world, and the non Judeo/Christian/Islamic world believes neither.

    It is this conflict of “chosen” realities that creates the perception of the “Human Rights” environment of the territories and people concerned. It is why the present situation can cause the appointment to Human Rights bodies of particular people that many would far prefer not to see there.

    Human Rights demands that everyone cleans up their act – not just one group. Many groups are far worse than others, but everyone has fallen short. The disgusting propaganda and fanatical rants that emanate from Palestinian and Arab media have their counterpart in Jewish propaganda, and rants I have even seen in Algemeiner’s comment forums.

    There are two major distinct matters in the present apparent impasse. The Occupation of Palestine and the role of Jerusalem, The problem of the Occupation could be largely solved unilaterally, and its solution might well in time make the problem of Jerusalem at least approachable. But that would have to be a time of long lasting and stable peace between communities. There is no overnight solution there – there never was. Both sides must accept that, and put up with an interim situation, in the interests of peace.

    The situation can never improve until the whole area gets off of its war footing. That requires the existence of a strong Palestinian Government committed to the policing of its own territory, and prosecuting those launching rockets into another sovereign territory. Surely that is the core deal that can restore full rights to the areas concerned. In Europe the Occupation ended because the one time national enemies were able to police their own internal extremism and determined so to do. Our concern comes when we see that breaking down as in Ukraine, but in the post war Western Europe, the structure of Democratic Authority has held for the most part. Occupations can be brought to an end and true Human Rights be brought to the fore of societies, Western Europe did it.

    What the world does not need is a backing off from the need to improve Human Rights worldwide that is fired by Cyclopean perspectives of an inflammatory situation, created by only considering issues from one viewpoint. And that applies to everyone.

    If you want others to pursue Human Rights, pursue them yourselves in both understanding and action – in America, Israel, Palestine – everywhere. Human Rights are not first and foremost about how other people behave, they are about how you behave, the example that you yourselves set.

    • HH

      Enough with the “occupation,” pal. Really, I agree this is the third generation to have grown up in this mess. But, what we see in Crimea is occupation. An army comes in and takes over. What we sadly have here is Israel offering up the West Bank 5 times over all these years, including 2014, and their leadership refusing to pick up the gauntlet. Israel occupies the borders, it’s borders. What the PA and PLO have done is leave a legal vacuum where anything Israel can do is wrong. There is no occupation. But, at the same time, there is no responsibility on the PA side, so Israel has to pick up their slack. Look at it from that point of view.

      • Julian Clovelley

        Remind me HH – when was it that Israel offered to close all the settlements or hand them over to Palestinian rule and to entirely withdraw their forces from territory occupied since 1967?

        Just asking. I can’t remember the 5offers of complete withdrawal you refer to as having been tabled – but it has been a long time. I had only just left school in 1967 and have lived in three other countries since then been married twice, and had what are now adult children

        • HH


          Do you want to start with 1947? UN said, hey, Jews, you take half, hey, Arabs, you take the other half. Arabs said no. Not only no, but we will have a war, and lose. Then it was Jordan who actually “occupied” West Bank which it invaded.

          1967 – Arabs started another war and lost. When you lose wars, the victors can do what they want. In this case, Israel won buffer lands all around it, north, south and east. It said, we’ll trade these lands if you make peace with us. Egypt took the offer in 1979, the PA never did.

          Every “US-brokered peace treaty” has offered the same to the PA. 1947, 1967, 2000, 2009, 2014.

          The question of settlements is also irrelevant. Have you been to these places? It’s like one border town across the border line – specifically, where IDF had lookout towers. Go to a map. These “settlements” are on high points, so if Arab armies want to invade again, they’d have to do so by running through deep valleys, makes it hard for sneak attacks.

          Other countries also have settlements. Morocco has two Spanish settlements, Ceuta and Melilla, and Spain has Gibraltar. Neither situation negates the existence of Morocco or Spain. The US has “Baja” California. Look on a map, that looks like it should be Mexico to me.

          Within the West Bank (have you been there? I have) it’s all run by PA police. They “occupy” it. They run it, they are the mayors there, they collect taxes there. They have border guards, but Israel’s are bigger. And really, no one is fighting to get into the West Bank, not much to do there, mostly because the PA/PLO has stolen whatever money they had.

          The truth is the PA is occupying the West Bank, and they should put up or shut up. If they want to “posses” the West Bank, they should do what other countries in formation do, which is follow international rules of creating countries. Read the UN charter, Jack. It says you can have your human right to having a sovereign nation, but only if that wouldn’t impose on an already sovereign and recognized nation. Which it would in this case, meaning, if you want the land, you have to deal with the people who have its borders.

          Your nonsense question is akin to when did the US say they would withdraw all their troops from Afghanistan or Iraq or the Philippines or Japan or Germany? And the answer is when it’s safe to do so.

          Had it not been for the WALL Israel built, thousands and thousands of more Jewish civilians would be dead. Remember those dark days?

          • Julian Clovelley

            Now you have me totally confused HH because actually you seem to be saying that there were no such offers as implied in your earlier post, unless you regard the settlements as “irrelevant”. I’m not sure the settlers would like that classification. Ask them if they should be considered “irrelevant” to any peace deal. I’m not suggesting that myself

            Ceuta and Melilla are coastal towns – as of course is Gibraltar – They are very old separate towns, Ceuta having independent existence from surrounding territory since 1249, Mellila since 1497. Gibraltar was ceded to Britain in 1713. So the situation is hardly comparable with the Israeli settlements on Occupied land. Even so there are good arguments for all three territories being ceded to the surrounding nations, should the historically long separate populations choose so to do. I think three people in Gibraltar were quite enthusiastic in the recent referendum. Hong Kong (1842) might be a better example, albeit the British gave it back to China

            As to the security wall it seemed eminently sensible to me – good fences sometimes are what is needed to make good neighbours. Pity it is so ugly.

            I am rather concerned by your statement “When you lose wars, the victors can do what they want”. Actually, if the occupying powers abide by the various conventions that is precisely what they cannot do. Unfortunately there is sad precedent for invading forces doing exactly what they want to in contravention of both conventions and human decency, but truly I would not be taking the Nazi invasion of Poland, France and the rest of Europe and the Japanese invasions in mainland Asia as a precedent for acceptable behaviour in occupied territory

            Reaching a peace settlement really isn’t that hard if either(sic) side has any intention of so doing. I sometime find myself having some sympathy for the British in 1947 – themselves battered by two horrific wars. I can’t really blame them for throwing their hands in the air at ever getting any of the lot concerned then to come to agreements, and to stop slagging off at each other. Small wonder in the end it came down to telling the UN to find another sucker, and apart from that saying to all sides – “so long and thanks for all the hummus

            Peace will come when it is recognised it takes more courage, greater emotional sacrifice and greater understanding than war. That is why bullies are rarely particularly bright or articulate.

  • Irving D. Cohen



  • The UN is obsolete. It should be renamed along the lines of Islamic unity overrides justice and invigorates Israel hatred. Time for a change Barack Obama, where is it?