some of the past hypocracy from the UN.
Hat tip-Frank G.
By ANNE BAYEFSKY
Monday, June 2nd 2008, 8:46 AM
There are more than 3,000 non-governmental organizations, or NGOs, that are officially accredited by the UN’s central processing body. Representing a range of people and interests from around the globe, these groups can enter UN premises, get access to meetings and decision-makers and speak at UN bodies like the Human Rights Council.
Now, the UN is on a warpath against one particular NGO. It is poised tomorrow to revoke these basic access rights from the World Union of Progressive Judaism. Yes, the WUPJ – which represents more than 1.7 million reform, progressive, liberal and reconstructionist Jews all over the world – is about to have its privileges to attend and speak at UN events erased.
What was its sin? Daring to speak clearly against UN human rights hypocrisy.
Bureaucrats at the UN trace the problem back to a statement made by the WUPJ during a Jan. 24, 2008, session of the Human Rights Council. The meeting marked the fourth time the UN’s lead human rights body had convened an entire session to condemn Israel. That brought the total to four special sessions on Israel – compared with six sessions to address human rights in the other 191 UN member states.
As the council conducted its predetermined witch hunt, WUPJ representative David Littman made the mistake of referring to Hamas‘ genocidal charter. He began three times, quoting the charter’s words that ” Israel will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it,” and calling upon the council to invoke the Genocide Convention.
Each time, the council president interrupted and warned him to “focus on the issue.” Littman stood his ground: “The issue is what Hamas and the government in Gaza wishes to do to Israel .” Bang, bang, bang went the gavel. Stymied, Littman recalled his Shakespeare and said: “There is a general malaise in the air. A feeling that something is rotten in the state of this council.”
That was the last straw. Those words were “disrespectful” to the Human Rights Council, the diplomats from the Muslim world declared.
That brings us to the present day – tomorrow, actually – when the UN committee charged with ensuring NGOs’ equal access rights is set to expel the WUPJ from the premises.
Chairing the committee is that bastion of civil liberties, Sudan. Vice-chairs include Pakistan and Cuba. Among the other 16 members are serial free speech abusers Angola, China, Egypt, Qatar and Russia.
At this past Thursday’s committee meeting, Sudan – currently committing genocide – expressed concern that the WUPJ’s behavior “violates the spirit and the letter of the charter of the UN.” China – where you’re arrested for logging on to the Internet and typing in “human rights” – was upset because “We respect civil society and NGOs.”
What is really going on here is that the UN is trying to remove a sharp stone in its shoe. Littman and the WUPJ are rare but tenacious voices who confront Islamic human rights abuses at the UN at every turn. Over the past year, Littman has complained to the council that Iranian law “still allows the marriage of girls at only 9 years old and justifies the stoning of women for alleged adultery,” warned against “Sharia law [taking] supremacy over the Universal Declaration,” and urged that “calls to kill in the name of Allah be unequivocally condemned.”
Each time, the likes of Egypt , the Palestinian Observer and Iran have tried to shut him up.
Will they succeed – or will the United States, which also sits on the committee, fight a lot harder to defend the WUPJ’s rights? If the censors prevail, it will have a dramatic chilling effect on groups across the UN system and leave human rights victims out in the cold.