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On Sunday, June 11 a boycott of Israeli academics, which had been adopted a few weeks earlier by the UK University and College Lecturers' Union (NATFHE), was lifted after the move threatened to derail a merger plan with the larger UK Association of University Teachers.
The development comes as the Ontario chapter of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) passed a resolution at the end of May to "support the international campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions" against Israel.
These actions, gaining steam on multiple continents, did not develop out of thin air. Lurking behind them, and many similar moves, is a little-known UN cadre.
The multi-billion dollar UN system was once largely closed to non-governmental organizations (NGOs) as the private playing field of member states. But NGOs have now found their way into the most intimate recesses of the UN. It is a development, however, that is not a one-way street with the members of so-called civil society as mere supplicants looking for an opening.
Both the UN secretariat and member states have found it extremely useful to operate through NGO partners or proxies. One element of this phenomenon is so familiar that the term "GONGO" has been coined, to discredit "government-operated non-governmental organizations."
But there is a much darker side to the UN-NGO nexus than the rise of these obvious interlopers in NGO circles. It is the large number of NGOs that have been empowered by UN accreditation to spread anti-Semitism and hate, and encourage terrorism from a UN platform. The call for boycotts and sanctions against Israel is a central plank of this campaign.
THE UN accredits NGOs through its Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), the Department of Public Information (DPI), or, in Israel's case, the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (CEIRPP). Accreditation brings with it a number of entitlements, in particular the wider dissemination of the NGO's views by way of the UN Web site, UN conferences and publications. In Israel's case, the UN Web site specifically links to so-called like-minded UN-accredited NGOs.
Although the UN adds a disclaimer about the content of the non-UN sites, the only way to get on the list - and be granted the enormous benefit of being tied directly to a site accessed by millions worldwide - is to be approved by a "team" of UN officials.
The job of disseminating and amplifying the message that UN insiders can't always convey conspicuously is conveniently taken up by NGOs such as those on the UN "NGO Network on the Question of Palestine." Its direction is driven by the Inalienable Rights Committee and the UN's Division for Palestinian Rights - the only Committee and Division in the UN system devoted solely to advancing the claims of a single people.
The following is a sampling of direct quotes taken from the sites of UN-accredited NGOs. (Some of the sites contain generic disclaimers though the pieces have been deliberately featured.)
â€¢"That Star of David, which we are told is originally a religious symbol, symbolized hate and evil. Even today, I couldn't imagine a more hateful sign."
â€¢"[M]any Americans and westerners, long misinformed by the Zionist-controlled media especially after the events of September 11, 2001â€¦"
â€¢"[S]o-called 'anti-semitism'â€¦ has now become the single most important element of Jewish identity."
â€¢"[A]nti-semitism has been taking place for 100 years in Palestine, against the Palestinian Arab semites, by European Jewish colonialists. A mini-holocaust."
â€¢"Zionism is against true Torah Judaism. But Zionism is even more than that; Zionism and anti-Jewish feelings are faces of the same coin of racism. In fact Hitlerâ€¦ talked about the 'great movement' of Zionism (because both he and they agreed that Jews have no place in Europe)..."
â€¢"[T]he suicide bombersâ€¦ have been nurtured by the high unemployment, the harassment of the checkpoints, the death of a loved one and sometimes the need to redeem themselves from having been recruited as collaborators in the Israeli prison camps."THIS PENCHANT of UN-accredited NGOs for hate and violence does not prevent them from achieving accreditation.
In January 2006, the NGO called BADIL, Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights, won accreditation despite the fact that BADIL advocates Zionism is racism and the end of a Jewish state. But BADIL had a UN insider on its side. Karen Koning AbuZayd, Commissioner General for the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), wrote a letter in support of its application, stating: "I take great pleasure in recommending BADILâ€¦ BADIL has had an excellent cooperative relationship with UNRWA."
Like-minded NGOs can get more than UN accreditation, or a coveted link from the UN's Web site. They can also advertise their political campaigns globally, without charge, courtesy of a bi-weekly UN newsletter called NGO Action News. According to the UN, this is a "bi-weekly newsletter issued by the Division for Palestinian Rights of the United Nations Secretariat and intended to provide information on worldwide NGO activities relevant to the question of Palestine."
The UN solicits submissions, asking NGOs interested in sharing information about their activities to contact the Division for Palestinian Rights. As for accountability, the UN says: "[T]he final decision with regard to selecting material for inclusion in the newsletter rests with the Division for Palestinian Rights" - with a disclaimer about factual accuracy of events scheduled by third parties.
WHEN UN Deputy Secretary-General Mark Malloch Brown decided to interfere in domestic American politics last week by taking specific aim at the Bush administration, recent American votes at the General Assembly, and America's UN Ambassador John Bolton in particular - contrary to UN staff rules - he was part of a larger pattern.
The latest edition of the UN's NGO Action News (April-May 2006) advertises, free of charge, a campaign to object to the then proposed Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act of 2006 (which was subsequently adopted). The November 2005 NGO Action News advertised an international seminar by Health Work Committees, the Alternative Information Center, and the Alternative Group which included a workshop called "Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment," and a paper on "Local and International Perspectives on a One State Solution."
The October-November 2005 NGO Action News announced a conference organized by The Palestine Center promising to discuss "Churches and Divestment: A Third Party Intervention."
THE NUMBER of UN regulations violated by this UN-NGO cabal is voluminous, but one particular rule matters above all: It's called the Charter of the United Nations, which bears repeating under the circumstances.
The organization was intended to "reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small."
We've gone a long way - in the opposite direction.
The writer is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, professor at Touro Law Center and editor of www.EYEontheUN.org. The full report, 'The UN-NGO Connection: Spreading The Message of Hate and Terrorism,' is available on the EYEontheUN site.