Hamas welcomed at UN headquarters in Geneva (JERUSALEM POST OP-ED) By ANNE BAYEFSKY 03/21/12)
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On March 19, 2012 the UN Human Rights Council and its UN staff in
Geneva advertised and facilitated an event featuring a representative
of the terrorist organization Hamas. Facing an immediate outcry, a
massive misinformation campaign is now underway to protect the
already discredited UN body. But there is no avoiding the facts: the
UN handed a UN entrance pass and a UN microphone, in a UN room, to
Hamas’s own Ismail al-Ashqar.
US, European and Israeli laws designate Hamas as a terror group.
Hamas’s hate-filled Charter advocates genocide, or in its
words: “Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam
will obliterate it…The Day of Judgment will not come about until
Muslims fight the Jews (killing the Jews)…” The organization is
pursuing that goal on a daily basis.
Nevertheless, the Council published a formal UN “Bulletin” – with the
Council’s name splashed across the top and a formal UN symbol number –
containing the following message. Anyone wanting to catch a lecture
by a Hamas human rights authority should head off to Meeting Room
XXVII in the UN’s Palais des Nations from 10 to 12 Monday morning.
Or in more formal UN-eze “Human Rights Council, Nineteenth session,
Geneva, Bulletin of informal meetings, Held in parallel to the
session, Monday, 19 March 2012…Subject: Arrest of parliamentarians,
Sent out to face the subsequent barrage of criticism, Director of the
United Nations Information Service in Geneva Corinne Momal-Vanian
told AP that the meeting was “on the sides of the Human Rights
Council session" and any UN-accredited group “can organize side
events and invite speakers of its choice.”
Indeed, the event featuring the Hamas member of the Palestinian
Legislative Council was organized by the UN-accredited NGO "Maarij
Foundation for Peace and Development." But here are a few facts
Momal-Vanian managed to leave out.
UN facilities would only have been available to a non-governmental
organization that had been awarded UN accreditation and then only
after they had requested the services from the UN secretariat.
Though the UN bulletin carries a standard disclaimer for what may or
may not be said during such events, the application to hold the
meeting in the first place must have been vetted and approved by UN
Moreover, locating meetings on the “side” of the Human Rights
Council’s regular session – which is now in full swing – is a
deliberate attempt to influence information flow to Council
participants. And while in theory any UN group can ask permission to
hold a side event, it is no accident that approval is actually
granted to a raft of Israel-bashing NGOs.
This week alone radical organizations with extreme ideologies are
holding three more two-hour sessions on UN premises: “Human rights in
Palestine,” “Follow-up to the Goldstone Report,” and “Human rights
under occupation.” The organizing NGOs, including Al Haq, BADIL, the
Arab Lawyers Union and the International Organization for the
Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (EAFORD), all hold
official UN accreditation. Their standard fare is to claim that
Israel’s creation was a catastrophe that has to be walked back;
Israel is an apartheid state; Israelis are foreigners transplanted
onto Arab land; Israel should be subject to debilitating sanctions.
Their websites and activities are studded with anti-Semitic images
and rants. EAFORD was hatched in Gaddafi’s Libya. The Arab Lawyers
Union displayed an infamous set of cartoons of blood-thirsty Jews at
the 2001 Durban “anti-racism” conference.
The controversy comes at an inopportune moment for the Obama
administration, which is in the middle of a drive to renew its three-
year term on the Human Rights Council. So somehow a twitter campaign
joined Monday’s effort to ward off the public relations disaster of a
terrorist UN human rights buff.
Some examples. Tweet: “NGOs can invite people without the UN being
aware or responsible.” In fact, no person can get through UN
security at the Palais Wilson without their name being provided to UN
officials in advance; officials must then grant access and issue a UN
pass. Even the UN spokesperson has not alleged that al-Ashqar evaded
security and snuck in.
Then there was this tweet: “Hamas representative invited by NGO is
distraction.” Welcoming a terrorist into the midst of a facility
supposedly dedicated to human rights is indeed a distraction – from
the UN’s raison d’etre. Another read: “Contrary to Hamas boast, its
representative spoke to empty room.” Photos of the audience posted
on the web contradicted that tweet. And then there was the
bleat: “Invited not by UN but Sudanese group.” Except that the
Sudanese group was not just any bunch of hate-mongers, but UN-
accredited, and nothing would have prevented UN staff from turning al-
Ashqar away at the door.
According to Momal-Vanian, however, what worried the UN most about
the Hamas agent’s visit was this: “the global body assessed the
possibility of security threats in connection with the event and
allowed it to go ahead.”
A perversion from beginning to end. Only the UN could twist the
security threat so that the terrorist front man became the victim.
The writer is director of the Touro Institute on Human Rights and the
Holocaust. (© 1995-2011, The Jerusalem Post 03/21/12)
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