The announcement last summer that Canadian academic William Schabas was being appointed head of the new U.N. Gaza Commission continued a long U.N. tradition of open bias against Israel.
Schabas was a terrible, deeply prejudiced choice.
When asked who most should be tried at the International Criminal Court for war crimes, Schabas answered brazenly that Benjamin Netanyahu would be his “favorite” to indict. Not Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, who shot his own citizens in the street in the Green Revolution of 2009. Not Bashar al-Assad of Syria, who killed more than 100,000 Arabs to date. Not Khaled Mashal of Hamas terrorist infamy.
Schabas also compared Nobel Peace Laureate Shimon Peres, the former president of Israel, to the president of Sudan who is responsible for the genocide in Darfur.
That a man of such extreme hostility to the Jewish state should have been considered in the first instance brought further discredit to the U.N., whose record on Israel already is appalling.
Schabas pulled no punches on Israel. He is a steadfast friend of Iran and its genocidal former president, Ahmadinejad. He sponsored academic conferences in Tehran with organizations tied to the fundamentalist anti-Semitic regime in Iran, which demands the annihilation of Israel. He never admitted whether he had taken money from Iran, but he did admit to taking money from the PLO. He also frequently defended Ahmadinejad, calling him nothing more than “a provocative politician” and telling the world to stop “exaggerating” his statements.
An apologist for radical anti-Semites, Holocaust-deniers, and America-haters, a man who calls for the extermination of the Jewish state, never should have been trusted to lead an investigation into the war in Gaza.
Justice finally has been done with his resignation, which, ever the victim, Schabas attributed to smears from pro-Israel activists.
The truth is that Schabas’s resignation is a demonstration of the righteousness and effectiveness of pro-Israel groups, when they work methodically and determinedly against Israel’s avowed enemies.
My own organization, This World: The Values Network, took out full-pages ads against Schabas in the world’s leading publications, including the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, as soon as his appointment was announced. Schabas responded to our ads with an interview in Reuters, where, among other defenses, he said he liked eating kosher food.
But in truth the Gaza commission is tainted, and betrays the U.N.’s ongoing anti-Israel bias. To date there has been no U.N. commission investigating the Syrian massacre of its own citizens, Russia’s annexation of Crimea, or Hamas’ firing of thousands of rockets against Israeli citizens. Rather, the Jewish state, which defends itself against murderous attack, constantly is investigated by a world that is still astonished, displeased, and confused when Jews fight back.
Perhaps the U.N. ought to remember that while a Jewish life is no more valuable than any other, it also is no less so. Jews have a right to defend themselves.
When I was in Israel with my family during the recent Gaza war, I met with a senior IDF commander, who had been seriously wounded in battle. I asked him how we could help the IDF. He told me, “We don’t want to go to London with our families on vacation and discover that we face arrest warrants. It’s bad enough that we have to risk our lives constantly in Israel’s existential fight against terrorists. We’re not asking to be treated as heroes. But the thought of being treated as criminals, and being subject to prosecution in front of our kids, because we defend Israel is appalling.”
The Palestinians have joined the ICC precisely to bring false charges against IDF soldiers who defend Israel. Their purpose is clear: they want to make it impossible for Israel to deploy its army. They launch murderous attacks against Jews and then hide behind libelous charges of Israeli genocide and vile comparisons between Israel and Nazis when Israel moves to protect its citizens.
And don’t think it’s not working. When Dennis Prager and I debated Israel at the Oxford Union a few weeks ago, some of the most educated students on the planet got up at the world’s most famous debating chamber and openly accused Israel of having become a Nazi regime.
Last September, three days before he went before the U.N. and accused Israel of genocide against the Palestinians, Mahmoud Abbas – the “moderate” – spoke at Cooper Union’s Great Hall to a crowd composed mostly of NYU students. Many gave him a standing ovation as he repeated the blood libel that Israel is a genocidal state.
The charge that Jews are like Nazis risks going mainstream, and not just because of the likes of avowed Israel haters like Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who scapegoat Israel in order to conceal their dismantling of Turkish democracy.
Holocaust denial started as an attempt to undermine the suffering of the Jewish people and delegitimize Israel. For if the Jews of Europe were not exterminated, what were they doing, coming from Germany and Poland to take away Arab land?
There was one problem, however. No matter how much anti-Semitic historians like David Irving and murderous tyrants like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran tried to deny the Holocaust, there were just too many Jews who died. There was just too much evidence to suppress.
So another idea arose. OK, millions of Jews were killed by the Nazis. But rather than the Jews becoming more humane and sensitive as a result, they have internalized the hatred of their tormentors. They have become Nazis themselves. They are engaged in the extermination and genocide of the Palestinian people.
This charge must be countered by every instrument of organized Jewish life. Our message must be clear: Stop demonizing the only democracy in the Middle East and instead shift your focus to where real slaughters are taking place and to the killers who perpetrate them: ISIS, Syria, Hamas, and other murderous groups who should be the real targets of the U.N. if the international body is to retain a modicum of credibility.