´Delegitimization of Israel masked as good vs. evil´ (JERUSALEM POST) By LAHAV HARKOV 03/20/12)
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Delegitimization of Israel is being masked as a fight for public
values, such as human rights and the struggle against racism,
Canadian MP Irwin Cotler told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense
The former Canadian justice minister and expert in international and
human rights law spoke in English to five MKs, as well as
representatives from the Finance Ministry, Foreign Ministry, Public
Diplomacy Ministry and Justice Ministry.
According to Cotler, delegitimization has taken place for decades,
but recently became a “buzzword in the discourse.”
“The real issue is not delegitimization,” he explained. “It is the
masking of delegitimization under public values. Israel is considered
the enemy of good and the repository of all that is evil.”
Cotler recounted the 1975 UN resolution that Zionism is racism as an
example of delegitmization, and said that even then UN agencies
declared that Israel is the enemy of culture, women’s rights and
The reason that delegitimization has become such a buzzword in recent
years, the Canadian MP explained, is that it reached a critical mass
through globalization. Although globalization often refers to
economies, there has also been a global human rights and legal
revolution, beginning in the mid-1970s.
Cotler brought four ways in which delegitmization is masked under the
current discourse, explaining that the real way to fight the
phenomenon is to say that it is undermining the integrity of the UN,
international law, human rights and the struggle against racism,
because they are being misused to cover anti-Israel sentiment.
The first way is under the cover of UN organizations. Cotler pointed
out that 20-22 anti-Israel resolutions are passed in the UN General
Assembly each year, a phenomenon that trickles down into all of its
Delegitmization is also laundered under the cover of international
law. While, according to Cotler, universal jurisdiction is not
inherently wrong, it is often abused in regards to Israel.
The third way in which delegitmization is laundered is under the
cover of human rights. The Canadian MP pointed out that major human
rights violators like Syria, Iran and China “enjoy exculpatory
immunity.” He called the UN Human Rights agency an “Alice in
Wonderland situation,” in which Israel is singled out from the rest
of the world and constantly condemned before hearings begin.
Finally, Cotler explained the delegitimization is often hidden behind
the struggle against racism, pointing out that in the case of
racism, “the label supplies the indictment, and no further proof is
required.” In addition he said that those who accuse Israel of being
an apartheid state deny its right to exist, because apartheid is a
crime against humanity under international law.
MK Einat Wilf asked Cotler about language used in the discourse about
Israel, saying that Israel adopted the Palestinians’ language during
the Oslo Accords, and that it became acceptable to use the terms
occupation and refugees.
Perhaps it would benefit Israel to say that Judea and Samaria are
under conflict and not occupied, she asked.
Cotler mentioned one example – the change from “the Arab-Israeli
conflict” to “the Israeli-Palestinian conflict” – as having done
Israel a disservice.
In addition, he said “it does not help when Jews and Israelis call
Israel an apartheid state. I don’t like to get into the business of
the discourse of whether a Jew or Israeli saying it [makes it more
valid] – it demeans the real complaint against apartheid.” (© 1995-
2011, The Jerusalem Post 03/20/12)
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