The announcement last summer that Canadian academic William Schabas was being appointed head of the new UN Gaza Commission continued a long UN tradition of open bias against Israel.
Schabas was a terrible, deeply prejudiced choice.
When asked who 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 Assad of Syria who killed over 100,000 Arabs to date, or 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 UN, the Israel record of which is already 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 that 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 who call for the extermination of the Jewish state should never have been trusted to lead an investigation into the war in Gaza.
Justice has finally been done with his resignation which, ever the victim, he attributed to smears on the part of pro-Israel activists.
The truth is that Schabas’ 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-page ads against Schabas in the world’s leading publications, including The New York Times and Wall Street Journal, just as soon as his appointment was announced, and Schabas responded to our ads with an Reuters interview in which among other defenses he said he liked eating kosher food.
Now, in the wake of his resignation, he has given an interview to Richard Falk where he says, “The charges of bias against me were nothing more than a witch-hunt, something reminiscent of McCarthyism.
Shortly after I was appointed, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach published full-page ads in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post attacking my appointment. These were full of vicious lies. They dealt with matters that had nothing whatsoever to do with the mandate of the Commission. For example, I was described as a ‘friend of Iran and its genocidal former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.’” It’s quite shocking that Schabas believes that his long record of anti-Israel statements are not germane to the question of bias. Schabas also makes no effort to respond to the open evidence against him of fronting academic conferences in Iran for Ahmedenijad or taking money from the Palestinians.
But in truth the Gaza commission is tainted and bespeaks the UN’s ongoing anti-Israel bias. To date there has been no UN commission investigating the Syrian massacre of its own citizens, Russia’s annexation of Crimea, or Hamas’ firing of thousands of rockets at Israeli civilians. Rather, the Jewish state, which defends itself against murderous attack, is constantly investigated by a world that is still astonished, displeased and confused when Jews fight back.
Perhaps the UN ought to remember that while a Jewish life is no more valuable than any other, it is also 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: make it impossible for Israel to deploy its army. Launch murderous attacks against Jews and then hide behind libelous charges of Israeli genocide and vile comparisons of 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 UN and accused Israel of genocide against the Palestinians, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas – the “moderate” – spoke at Cooper Union’s Great Hall to a crowd comprised mostly of NYU students. Many gave him a standing ovation as he repeated the blood libel that Israel is a genocidal state.
The charge of Jews as Nazis risks going mainstream and not just from the likes of avowed Israel haters like Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who scapegoats Israel so as to conceal his dismantling of Turkish democracy.
Holocaust denial started as an attempt to deny 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 Ahmadinejad tried to deny the Holocaust, there were just too many Jews who died and too much evidence to suppress it.
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 living. 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: Islamic State, Syria, Hamas and other murderous groups who should be the real targets of the UN if that international body is to retain a modicum of credibility.
The author, “America’s rabbi” is the founder of This World: The Values Network, the world’s leading organization defending Israel in world media. He is the author of Judaism for Everyone and 30 other books, including his most recent, Kosher Lust. Follow him on Twitter @ RabbiShmuley.