This week Israel caved in to European and American pressure to further subject itself to egregious discrimination at the United Nations. The move was in response to a twisted appeal to Israel to preserve the fiction of a U.N. human rights system committed to equality.
On October 29, 2013, Israel ended 18-months of non-participation with U.N. human rights mechanisms that are dedicated to its demonization and defeat.
The surrender spawned victory laps by the U.N., the State Department and bigots in foreign ministries across Europe.
Leading the campaign to bring the Jewish state to its knees was none other than Germany. The diplomatic blackmail reached its apex in a letter of October 25, 2013 sent from German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Germany threatened that it “would be hard-pressed to help” Israel respond to the “severe diplomatic damage” which would allegedly have occurred if Israel failed to attend one more Israel-bashing session engineered by the U.N. Human Rights Council.
The formal procedure of Tuesday’s inquisition by the U.N.’s top human rights body was called a “universal periodic review” or "UPR." The cyclical UPR process is applied to each state once every four years. Hence, the façade of “universality.”
However, the Council’s regular sessions occur three times a year and only Israel is specifically on the agenda every single time. In fact, the Israeli human rights record was last considered by the Council a mere five weeks ago, on September 23, 2013.
The negative diplomatic fallout from the supposed failure by Israel to submit to the “same” practice as every other state, therefore, could readily have been countered. That is, if Germany (with the support of the Obama administration) had not preferred to use the contrived international reaction as a tool of intimidation.
Germany’s professed concern with Israel’s participatory interests is especially duplicitous in light of its outrageous decision to block Israel from membership on the U.N. Security Council.
Candidacies for election to one of the ten rotating seats on the Security Council are announced many years in advance – Israel making its candidacy for the year 2019 known years ago.
Germany’s recent announcement that it would compete directly against Israel for the few slots reserved for Western governments effectively destroys Israel’s chances of election – which would have been a first in U.N. history.
Similarly, Germany’s self-righteousness doesn’t prevent it from attending meetings at the U.N. in Geneva that specifically bar representatives of the Jewish state.
At every session of the U.N. Human Rights Council, 192 countries divide into five regional groups, meeting out of the public eye to share information, negotiate and assign jobs and resources. 192 of 193 UN members, because Israel is excluded. Even non-UN members such as the Palestinian Authority are allowed to attend regional group meetings.
The regional group to which Israel most naturally belongs is the geographically disparate Western European and Others Group (WEOG). But WEOG – which includes Germany and the United States – refuses Israel equal admission.
Germany’s willingness to play front man in the anti-Israel campaign ensconced at the UN is also disturbing because anti-Semitism is clearly at the root of the U.N.’s double-standards.
There is no human rights explanation for the Human Rights Council’s conduct towards Israel. It denounces Israel alone in over a third of all its country-resolutions, and has never once condemned the likes of China, Russia or Saudi Arabia.
It has one permanent agenda item on Israel and one for all other192 countries. It churns out successive “anti-racism” conferences that finger Israel as the world’s only racist state.
It appoints Richard Falk as its “expert” on Israel for six years running. The man once posted on his website a caricature of a blood-covered dog devouring human bones, urinating on lady justice, and wearing a skullcap emblazoned with a Jewish star.
Now, Western governments could refuse to legitimize the body that sponsors this constant barrage of inequality directed at Israel both before and after October 29. They could at least have ended the exclusion of Israel from WEOG. Instead, they demanded that Israel legitimize the “universality” fraud for a day.
As it played out, countries lined up to denounce “Judaization” (the foul presence of a Jew on Arab-claimed land), make wild accusations about torture and systematic cruelty to children, and repeat the old Zionism-is-racism canard of a Jewish state with a racist constitution.
The irony is that the UPR’s greatest champions are the world’s most brutal regimes. The system is a triumph of moral relativism, where despots and democrats are treated as if they were genuinely alike.
During the recent farcical UPR of Canada, China complained about violence against women, North Korea about free speech and torture, Iran about discrimination, Russia about arbitrary detention, and Sudan about racial violence.
Only a week ago, the Saudi UPR included two Saudi women shrouded entirely in black allowing only slits for their eyes. One said: “I would like to underline that the system in Saudi Arabia doesn't make a distinction between men and women.” The other defended the law allowing girls to be married off upon puberty.
If Israel had insisted on genuine equal treatment, it would have done the real victims of human rights a favor. Absent American support, Israel’s Prime Minister succumbed to the mob.
When will we learn that humiliation isn’t cost-free?
Anne Bayefsky is director of the Touro Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust. Follow her on Twitter @AnneBayefsky.