There is a dangerous scam gaining traction at the United Nations, backstopped by the White House. It’s called “violent extremism.” Given the U.N.’s long and undistinguished history of being unable to define terrorism, and an American president who chokes on the words “radical Islamic terrorism,” pledges to combat “violent extremism” have become all the rage.
It turns out that the terminological fast one is a lethal diplomatic dance that needs to be deconstructed, and quickly.
In 1999, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) adopted an “anti-terrorism” treaty stating that “armed struggle against foreign occupation, aggression, colonialism and hegemony, aimed at liberation and self-determination…shall not be considered a terrorist crime.”
In practice, that means it is open season on all Israelis, as well as Americans and Europeans who get in the way. Each of the 56 Islamic states, and what the UN labels the “State of Palestine,” is a party to this treaty.
The September 11 terror attacks then launched a growth industry in U.N. counter-terrorism chit-chat and paraphernalia.
Year-after-year, Islamic states have prevented the adoption of a UN Comprehensive Convention Against Terrorism by refusing to abandon their claim that certain targets are exempt.
In 2001 the U.N. Security Council created the Counter-Terrorism Committee. But it is unable to name a state sponsor of terrorism. In fact, from 2002 to 2003, Syria, a state sponsor of terrorism, was a member.
In 2005 the U.N. Commission on Human Rights, once chaired by Colonel Qaddafi’s Libya, created the U.N. expert on “the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism” – as if countering terror is not about protecting human rights.
In 2006 the General Assembly adopted a Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy. It manages to cast terrorists as victims. “Pillar Number One” starts by worrying about “conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism.” “Youth unemployment,” for instance, purportedly results in “the subsequent sense of victimization that propels extremism and the recruitment of terrorists.”
In 2011 the UN established the Counter-Terrorism Center – at the initiative of Saudi Arabia. The Saudis threw $100 million at the venture and became chair of the “Advisory Board.” Saudi financing of radical charities and “academic” exercises around the world are somehow left out of Center events on investigating and prosecuting terror financing.
Integral to the-best-defense-is-a-good-offence routine, has been the constant unsubstantiated allegation of an “Islamophobia” pandemic.
For the first decade of the 21st century, the Islamophobia charge was hurled in UN resolutions on the “defamation” of Islam or the “defamation of religion.” Defamation meant the freedoms of human beings should be trumped by the “rights” of “religion.”
In 2009 “defamation” was repackaged by the General Assembly as "human rights and cultural diversity.” Ever since, the over 100 countries of the “Non-aligned movement” vote against Western states and demand the freedoms of human beings be trumped by “cultural diversity.” And that's cultural diversity Iran-style. In December 2015, the UN resolution praised Tehran’s Centre for Human Rights and Cultural Diversity – the brainchild of former Iranian President and well-known human rights aficionado Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
In the last six weeks alone, Islamic states have staged two UN meetings focusing on “Islamophobia and inclusive societies,” and “countering xenophobia.” Two weeks ago, the servile Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon couldn’t mention “antisemitism” on the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz without connecting it to “anti-Muslim bigotry.”
Of course, the Islamophobia drumbeat skips right over the xenophobia, antisemitism, and exclusivity that is endemic – and officially-sanctioned – in Islamic states.
This is the substrate from which Ban Ki-moon has now manufactured a “Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism.” Introduced in January, the General Assembly is meeting on February 12, 2016 to push the plan forward.
After one mention of “ISIL, Al-Qaida and Boko Haram,” the Plan insists that violent extremism “does not arise in a vacuum. Narratives of grievance, actual or perceived injustice…become attractive.” “It is critical that in responding to this threat,” stresses the Plan, that states be stopped from “overreacting.” Topping “conditions conducive to violent extremism” is “lack of socioeconomic opportunities.”
Here we go again. The bigots, fanatics and killers are allegedly driven by our annoying insistence on fighting back – which the Plan astonishingly calls “the cycle of insecurity and armed conflict.”
As per usual in U.N. negotiations, the Obama administration has jumped on board while Islamic states are holding out for greater elaboration of their grievances and even more “nothing to do with religion or Islam” clauses.
The U.N.’s idea of a win-win is an illusory “global partnership to confront this menace” that allows states to define violent extremism any which way they want: “This Plan of Action pursues a practical approach to preventing violent extremism, without venturing to address questions of definition.”
Only U.N. con-artists could present refusing to identify a problem as the most practical way to solve it.
More practically speaking, the latest Palestinian terror wave began by pumping bullets into a young mom and dad in front of their little kids for the crime of being Jews living and breathing on Arab-claimed land. In U.N. terminology, Eitam and Naama Henkin were “extremist settlers.”
So to all you extremist lovers of liberty: beware the violent extremists in U.N. clothing, and the morally-challenged commanders in chief bringing up the rear.
Anne Bayefsky is director of the Touro Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust. Follow her on Twitter @AnneBayefsky.