The UN Human Rights Council inquiry into last year’s Gaza war followed an all-too predictable course.
The report of the two-member probe, headed by former New York Supreme Court judge Mary McGowan Davis, said “substantial information” pointed to “serious violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law by Israel and by Palestinian armed groups which may amount to war crimes.”
Hamas greeted this conclusion with delight. As a lawless terrorist group, it doubtless laughed at a report merely pointing to possible war crimes it just might have committed, having fired hundreds of rockets and tunneled into Israel with the express purpose of killing civilians.
The prize, which Davis duly delivered as expected, was falsely to smear Hamas’s victim Israel for possible war crimes.
The report was, of course, a travesty.
With the original inquiry head William Schabas forced to stand down after it was revealed he had previously worked for the terrorist PLO, Davis merely plowed on with the same kangaroo court: verdict first, evidence to follow.
That evidence was partial and skewed: at best, inconclusive and at worst, willfully, venomously wrong.
For statistics of fatalities during the war, Davis used the “UN protection cluster” numbers drawn from Israeli and Palestinian organizations, including Palestinian armed groups.
But drawing on this range of sources, including terrorists and their sympathizers, meant she had no reliable basis on which to draw any conclusions.
The only trustworthy figures have come from Israel’s Foreign Ministry.
After exhaustively tracking and identifying the dead Palestinians, this confirmed that almost half were armed militants belonging to Hamas or other terrorist groups.
This ratio of combatant to civilian casualties was far lower than any other army has ever achieved in the history of modern warfare. In most other wars, three times as many civilians have been killed. Yet Davis says the IDF should have changed the way it conducted the war after understanding the level of civilian casualties that were occurring.
Whatever can she mean? The lengths to which the IDF went to avoid such casualties – through leaflets, phone calls, texts and the harmless explosive warning “knock on the roof” – are unprecedented, and even cost Israeli lives.
This has been attested by numerous experts. The High Level International Military Group, whose 11 members included the former NATO Military Committee chairman Gen.
(ret.) Klaus Naumann of Germany, the former US State Department ambassador at large for war crimes issues Pierre-Richard Prosper and the former commander of British Forces in Afghanistan, Col. (ret.) Richard Kemp, observed: “Israel not only met a reasonable international standard of observance of the laws of armed conflict, but in many cases significantly exceeded that standard. A measure of the seriousness with which Israel took its moral duties and its responsibilities under the laws of armed conflict is that, in some cases, Israel’s scrupulous adherence to the laws of war cost Israeli soldiers’ and civilians’ lives.”
Indeed, Israel has set this moral bar so high that other countries are unlikely to reach it. Willy Stern, an American law professor, has quoted Wolff Heintschel von Heinegg, a German expert on military law, who said the IDF takes “many more precautions than are required... [it] is setting an unreasonable precedent for other democratic countries of the world who may also be fighting in asymmetric wars against brutal non-state actors who abuse these laws.”
Davis simply brushed all this aside to arrive at an immoral equivalence between Hamas terrorists and those defending innocent victims against such attacks.
Her report is riddled with breathtaking distortions and omissions. For example, she confuses terrorism with humanitarianism by pretending that threats by Hamas to target Israeli targets such as Ben-Gurion Airport were in fact warnings to evacuate, similar to those delivered by Israel to Gazan civilians. Or she scolds Israel for the blockade of Gaza even though Egypt had imposed a more draconian blockade on its own border.
Davis relied in the main on accounts provided by NGOs such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, B’Tselem or Breaking the Silence which have no objective fact-finding apparatus and whose purpose is merely to attack, demonize and delegitimize Israel.
Davis even admits that she can’t establish with certainty what happened in specific incidents, and that because Israel had not released sufficient information about its decision- making process no independent body could properly assess whether the IDF had met the standards set by international law.
None of that, though, prevented her and her colleague from producing these ludicrous conclusions. They are not just morally and intellectually bankrupt. If taken seriously, they would prevent Israel from defending itself by any military means at all.
Such a report brings the UNHRC, and the UN itself, further into disrepute.
But that’s surely the real point here. For we know all this by now, don’t we. We know the UNHRC is a sick joke, with its membership including murderous regimes which deny human rights to their own people.
We know that the UN, with its great bloc of despotisms and terrorist states, is institutionally programmed to attack Israel – the sole country in the Middle East which safeguards human rights and where Muslims are safe, and the one country in the world which Islamic tyrannies and their global supporters are sworn to isolate and destroy.
We know that the NGOs are the instruments of the Soviet-inspired psychological warfare campaign to bend the collective Western mind with systematic falsehoods and blood libels about Israel.
What we haven’t done is hold to account those who have enabled these institutions and groups to do these wicked things, and who have given them traction.
Israel and its defenders should be publicly calling out those Western governments which fund these NGOs, and demanding that they stop funding such demonization and incitement to Israel’s destruction.
Most of these Israeli NGOs are part of the New Israel Fund’s network. The NIF should be ostracized. If an organism has ingested poison it must expel it or else it may die.
UN Watch points out that since its establishment the UNHRC has condemned Israel more than the rest of the world combined. Why are the UK and US still members of this travesty of a human rights arbiter? As long as they participate in it, they validate and legitimize it. As long as Israel’s allies keep silent in the face of the libels against Israel pouring out of the NGOs, UN and other international bodies and their own media and universities, those governmental allies are themselves implicitly conniving at this delegitimization campaign. As long as they continue to fund these NGOs, they too have blood on their hands.
The Davis report is just the latest manifestation of the surreal nightmare through which we are living, in which much of the world has been turned into one giant pogrom, both physical and intellectual, against the Jewish state. To fight it, we must not only delegitimize the delegitimizers but hold their enablers’ feet to the fire, too.Melanie Phillips is a columnist for The Times (UK).