“UN Human Rights Violation!”
As those of you who read my postings regularly are probably aware, Anne Bayefsky, director of Eye on the UN, is a diligent and responsible critic of the UN, and a reliable source of information on its activities. I am in communication with her from time to time, and rely on her information. She is passionate, and dedicated.
Bayefsky — who holds credentials as a UN observer by virtue of her position as director of the Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust at New York’s Touro College (an NGO) — was present in the UN in New York on November 5, when the General Assembly voted to endorse the Goldstone Report.
Outside the General Assembly chamber a microphone is set up for delegates to speak. After the Goldstone vote, the delegate from Libya and the Palestinian observer both utilized this mike in order to speak in support of the Report. Bayefsky then approached the empty podium where the mike stood. She did not anticipate problems, she said, as representatives of NGOs have used this mike in the past without incident.
Bayefsky spoke for about five minutes, impromptu. She called the U.N. a “laughingstock” for focusing on Israel and ignoring Hamas human rights violations; she said the lack of balance in the report made it a travesty of justice.
As she finished speaking, she was surrounded by UN guards, who brought her to their office, confiscated her credentials, and escorted her out of the building. Bayefsky reported to Fox news that, as she was brought out of the building, a security officer told her, “the Palestinian ambassador [Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations Riyad Mansour] is very upset at the statement you made.” According to Inner City Press, when Mansour, who had walked away, was told that a representative of a pro-Israel NGO had spoken, he asked, “Did we capture them?”
Bayefsky currently awaits either the return of her credentials or a hearing in January or February before the Committee on NGOs. If she must go before the Committee — which is chaired by Sudan — she figures her chances are nil. Right now she is being prevented from attending significant meetings. “The frenzy of anti-Israel activity is going on right now,” she said. “There’s a reason they’re keeping me away – this is no accident.”
The UN is presenting a very different story, it should be noted. There were claims that her pass had not been revoked, and that there was action against her because she approached the mike without permission and this cannot be permitted.
This happened on November 5. I cannot explain why Eye on the UN, where I secured the bulk of this information, only released it today. (Perhaps there had been hope of securing a quiet resolution to the matter.)
I also garnered information at http://www.foxnews.com:80/story/0,2933,575666,00.html (put out today) and http://www.innercitypress.com:80/unga3goldstone110509.html (released on Nov. 5).
Sometimes matters are not as they seem, and sometimes they surprise us.
Today, for example, I was just a tad surprised when the news reported that French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, who is here now, told the Post that our plans to build in Gilo, as regrettable as they might be, did not have to be an obstacle to returning to negotiations.
Kouchner, who has not been a friend, seems to have chosen to refrain from leveling harsh criticism at us and instead to implicitly chastise the Palestinians for refusing to come back to the table.
Apparently he was unmoved by Ahmed Qurei’s designation of the Gilo building plans as the “final nail in the peace process’s coffin.” And it seems he was unruffled even though Saeb Erekat called our plans a “provocation against the international community.”
Kouchner said he knew this wasn’t a political decision. And he’s right. This didn’t reach Netanyahu’s desk — it was routinely processed.
Just possibly this time the Palestinians have overplayed their hand, trying the patience even of their supporters.
We are still stymied here as to why Gilo, in particular, has made such big news. An American friend tells me that it has made considerable press in the US. Strange, with all that is going on.
Please know that it’s not only the residents of Gilo who are reacting — Israelis in general are irked. As analyst Herb Keinon has pointed out, the way Obama has handled this situation indicates a “continued misreading and misunderstanding of the Israeli public.”
After all, writes Keinon, this is not about “a far-flung settlement overlooking Nablus, nor even in one of the settlement blocs like Gush Etzion, nor even a Jewish complex in one of the Arab neighborhoods of the capital, but in Gilo, one of the large new neighborhoods built in the city following the Six Day War.
“…many Israelis [are] clearly dismayed that the US – like Europe – now seems to be considering as settlements the post-1967 neighborhoods in Jerusalem.”
Obama had called for a complete settlement freeze that included east Jerusalem, which Netanyahu rejected. “By continuing to press the issue, Obama – who recently showed nascent signs of wanting to engage the Israeli public out of an understanding that if you want to get Israel to make concessions, Israel will need to trust the US president – risks further alienating the Israeli public. According to a Jerusalem Post poll conducted in August, only four percent of Israelis consider him to be pro-Israel.”
Says Keinon, one of the assumptions that Obama made when taking office was that the Israeli public was anti-settlement.
“But [the assumption was] mistaken. The Israeli public does not hate the settlements…the large settlement blocs, such as Ma’aleh Adumim and Gush Etzion…are well within the Israeli consensus. And the public certainly doesn’t view the neighborhoods of Jerusalem…as ‘settlements.’
“Pressing a construction freeze in those areas was widely viewed by the public as an unreasonable demand, especially when it was not accompanied by any demands on the Arabs or Palestinians.
“Rather than rallying around Obama, Israelis have – according to polls that shows Netanyahu’s popularity rising – rallied around Netanyahu. And no issue will make them rally even further around the prime minister than Jerusalem.”
In spite of the focus on Gilo, there actually are a number of matters to report with regard to housing in Jerusalem:
 A new Jewish housing community — a private venture on privately owned Jewish land — is being constructed in Nof Zion, situated adjacent to the Jabel Mukaber neighborhood of eastern Jerusalem, on the Armon Hanatziv ridge. The first stage of building, close to 100 units, is already complete and residents began to move in some months ago.
Yesterday, the cornerstone was laid for the second stage of building. Construction is slated to begin in six months, and will ultimately add 125 apartments to the community.
Some 100 people gathered for the cornerstone ceremony. MK Danny Danon (Likud) was there. “I have a message for President Obama,” he told the crowd. “Take your hands of Jerusalem. Jerusalem belongs to the Jewish people and we have every right to live and raise our children here.”
Participating as well was a group of Americans — lead by NY State Assemblyman Dov Hikind — completing a tour of Judea and Samaria, and Jerusalem, with an eye towards coming to live here.
 Also yesterday, in spite of local resistance — including rock-throwing — five illegal housing structures were demolished in the eastern Jerusalem neighborhoods of Issawiya and Silwan. This is in addition to two demolished just days before and another 14 slated for demolition. The Municipality of Jerusalem reports that these buildings were all constructed without necessary permits, and at least one was on land designated for a road. The Arab residents claim they cannot get permits.
 The Jerusalem Municipality has announced plans for the construction of more than 5,000 new housing units for Arab residents of the city:
Construction of 2,000 housing units in Tel Adasah, in north Jerusalem, and 2,500 units in a-Swahra, near Jabel Mukaber, were to begin following final approval by relevant municipal committees, while construction of 500 new housing units in Dir-al-Amud, near Beit Safafa, were in the advanced stages of planning.
An observation here: Obama has said that “Settlement building does not contribute to Israel’s security.”
In point of fact there are issues of security — maintaining strategic depth around Jerusalem and holding on to the high places in Samaria, from which rockets could be shot at our airport, etc.
But what this teaches us is actually a broader and very important lesson: We should not, we must not, make our case based on security alone. We have rights to build and live in Judea and Samaria born of our heritage in the land and international law going back to the Mandate.
It is time we spoke in these terms.
“The Good News Corner”
I have been wanting to write about the economic miracle of Israel, and the amazing entrepreneurship demonstrated by Israelis. Here, instead, I provide you with a video clip of an interview of the co-author of a book called Start-Up Nation. We demonstrate some unique characteristics that do us proud.