BERLIN – An American UN expert on Thursday slammed the appointment of German
jurist Christian Tomuschat as chairman of the UN committee responsible for
implementing the findings of the Goldstone Report on Operation Cast Lead, and an
Israelbased expert blasted all three of the committee’s members for their
affiliation with an “anti-Israel” NGO.
In a 2007 interview with the
Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger daily, Tomuschat said, “Israel killed the spiritual leader
of Hamas in 2004, Sheikh Yassin, with a missile, killing eight... Targeted
killings are as ruthless as the attacks of terrorists.”
When asked in the
interview if Israel’s targeted killings constitute “state terrorism,”
said, “It is very much in that direction.”
Anne Bayefsky, a senior fellow
at the Hudson Institute and director of the Touro Institute on Human
the Holocaust, told The Jerusalem Post
that “Aside from the moral repugnancy of
such an equivalence, such words twist international humanitarian law
“His objection to the killing of Yassin – a vicious
anti-Semite who was actively promoting the murder of Jews – on the
simultaneous and unfortunate civilian deaths (four of the eight being
terrorists), is unsustainable.
The overriding legal limit on the conduct
of war and the targeting of terrorists like Yassin is the rule of
proportionality,” Bayefsky said.
“In the words of the Geneva Conventions,
an attack on a military target ‘which may be expected to cause
of civilian life’ is prohibited if ‘excessive.’ The likelihood of
casualties must be carefully considered prior to taking action, but it
render the action illegal in itself.
“So what we know about Tomuschat is
exactly why the UN system selected him – to render Israel defenseless
the realities of modern warfare and to delegitimize the Israeli judicial
despite its very high standing in democratic legal circles,” Bayefsky
Last month, the UN human rights commissioner, Navi Pillay,
appointed three members of the panel that will conduct a follow-up probe
Goldstone Report. The other two committee members are Malaysian Param
Cumaraswamy and American Mary Davis. The panel is charged with examining
efficiency, independence and professionalism of Israel’s court system
adherence to internationally accepted standards.
Gerald Steinberg, the
head of the human rights watchdog group NGO Monitor, told the Post that
committee’s members are affiliated with the International Commission of
and the “ICJ has had a long history of anti-Israel bias going back to
[after the IDF’s Operation Defensive Wall in 2002]. Involving ICJ
an UN-related commission is another illustration of the link between the
[Human Rights] Council and ideological NGOs.”
Bayefsky, who has written
extensively on the anti- Israeli conduct of the UN, said, “The United
human rights apparatus did not select Tomuschat in a vacuum. The mandate
latest committee is to dissect and discredit the entire Israeli judicial
– to trash the idea that Israel respects the rule of law and is a
“Tomuschat was selected because his distorted and erroneous
views of international humanitarian law and the right of self-defense
mean he is
a willing partner in this legal assault.”
Calls and e-mail queries to
Tomuschat were not immediately returned.
In an e-mail, a spokesman for
the German Foreign Ministry wrote on Thursday, “The UN high commissioner
human rights decided the composition of the committee.
government declines to comment on the decision.”
According to German
media reports, Tomuschat has said, “The terrorist is not a combatant, he
participating in a military conflict.
He is a serious criminal who should
be brought to court.”
Bayefsky said, “Such a statement indicates that
Tomuschat is incapable of understanding and applying the law so that it
any sense for democratic societies faced with the realities of
Imagine the Western military being forced to traipse around Afghanistan
with nothing but police cars and handcuffs.
“To paraphrase others,
international law is not a suicide pact. Sadly, Tomuschat will interpret
work in favor of terrorists who have no interest in the rule of law.
might have hoped that as a German he would appreciate the imperatives of
Jewish people’s need for selfdefense against an enemy that is committed
genocide,” Bayefsky said.
Tomuschat, 73, is emeritus professor of public
international law and European law at the Humboldt University in Berlin
and is a
former member of the UN Human Rights Committee and the UN’s
In December 2008, with Germany bringing proceedings against
Italy in the International Court of Justice, Tomuschat was appointed
representing Germany. The case alleges that Italy has violated the
sovereign immunity by allowing civil claims by victims of Nazi crimes
Germany to proceed in Italian courts.