Tag Archives: UN Human Rights Council

Day #3 – July 9, 2014 – Why should Americans care?

Source: Day #3 – July 9, 2014 – Why should Americans care?

Palestinian women hold night prayers in front of the Dome of the Rock at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the Old City of Jerusalem in support of Palestinians in Gaza. Photograph: Ahmad Gharabli AFP/Getty Images

Why should Americans care about the Palestinian side of the equation in the Middle East? That’s the MILLION $$ question. And why should members of Congress care specifically?

The U.S. gives Israel ALOT of money every year under very favorable terms. By one estimate, American taxpayers have given more than $130 Billion in U.S. aid to Israel. Our subsidy appears to be growing. Can the U.S. afford to be so generous with Israel while ignoring basic needs at home (infrastructure and education to name a couple) and in other less-developed countries?

Riyad H Mansour, the Palestinian ambassador to the United Nations, holds up a picture from the Israeli operation in Gaza during a Security Council meeting at the UN. Photograph: Kena Betancur/Getty Images

In the international arena, the U.S. routinely stands alone, or with the small minority, when voting on Israel’s actions in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The U.S. cast the only NO vote at the Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva against a resolution calling for parties to be held accountable for potential war crimes committed in Operation Protective Edge. The U.S. knee-jerk support for anything and everything that Israel wants, endangers U.S. foreign policy interests, especially in the volatile Middle East.

After 9/11, President George W. Bush told the world that the terrorists hate American values. He was wrong. Extremists hate our foreign policies, not our values. We continue down this path of genuflecting before the State of Israel at our peril, and Israel’s peril too. America’s unwavering support for the State of Israel, even when the cold, hard facts show that Israel likely committed war crimes last summer in Gaza, only fuels the extremists. President Obama hit the nail on the head when he said that “extreme ideologies are not defeated by guns but by better ideas.”

Our basic common decency and humanity calls us to empathize with our fellow human beings — all of them — not just the Israelis running for cover under the Iron Dome. We lose our humanity when we ignore the tremendous lopsided death tolls, the assymetric battles, and the root causes of the conflict.

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Filed under Gaza, Israel Defense Forces, People, United Nations, US Policy, Video

US stands alone

Human-Rights-Council-logo

The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) is only 8 years old — a baby really in the grand scheme of things. There are 47 members elected by the UN General Assembly.

The Human Rights Council is an inter-governmental body within the United Nations system responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe and for addressing situations of human rights violations and make recommendations on them. It has the ability to discuss all thematic human rights issues and situations that require its attention throughout the year. It meets at the UN Office at Geneva.

I know very little about the UNHRC but I know that Israeli officials despise it.

In 2012, Israel became the first nation to boycott the UNHRC after it learned the Human Rights Council was going to probe how Israel’s illegal settlements were infringing on the rights of Palestinians.  Israel wasn’t much too pleased either when the UNHRC endorsed the Goldstone Report in 2009 (that’s another blog post, or two, or three)!

United Nations Human Rights Council

United Nations Human Rights Council

Israeli officials reject any critique directed at their state, preferring to play the anti-Semitic card, or just turn away and pretend they don’t hear it. That makes it quite challenging for the community of nations trying to send a message to Israel. “Clean up your act — end the occupation!”

Reminds me of a young child receiving a scolding from the adults in the house, but is too immature to process the critique and prefers to run from the room with his hands over his ears, screaming “No! No! No!” (Too bad there’s not a “time out” corner where the UNHRC could quietly send Israel for a cooling off period.)

UNHRC probably has no power or leverage to accomplish anything, but a quick look at its website reveals the numerous attempts it has made over the years to raise concerns about Israel’s human rights violations. Take a look here.

On March 28 this year, the members of UNHRC passed 4 resolutions condemning Israel’s violations of international law. One resolution pertained to Palestinians’ right of determination. It passed 46 to 1.

Another resolution addressed Israeli settlements in the Palestinian occupied territories. It passed 46 to 1.

A third resolution pertained to human rights violations. It passed 46 to 1.

And the final resolution focused on Gaza. It passed 46 to 1.

There’s a pattern here . . . 46 to 1.

The lone NAY vote came from the United States, on all four resolutions! (Links to each can be found here.)

This pattern is not unusual.  The U.S. frequently casts the lone veto on the Security Council on any measure that criticizes Israel.

iStock 20492165 MD - American and Israeli flags

The U.S. has an incestuous relationship with Israel. The U.S. enables Israel to continue the occupation and its destructive behavior. The U.S. shields Israel (or tries to) from the opprobrium of the community of nations. And the moral leadership of the U.S. suffers with this unholy alliance.

Good friends don’t let friends commit war crimes.

Good friends don’t let friends violate international law.

The U.S. needs to be a good friend to Israel, not its sycophant.

 

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Filed under Israel, United Nations, US Policy

Shine some solar in Gaza

Some solar entrepreneurs in Israel have decided to shine some light in Africa, Haiti, Romania and a dozen other countries.   Yosef Abramowitz says his Arava Power Company, which established Israel’s largest solar field to generate electricity, plans to deploy $20 billion by 2020 to build 10,000 megawatts and supply green energy to 50 million people.”

The company now has a 4.9-megawatt field up and running, nine fields under construction, and plans for forty more energy projects in Israel over the next three years, including the first solar field on Bedouin land. Their goal is to eventually supply one tenth of Israel’s power.

Abramowitz has been dubbed Captain Sunshine and three times nominated for a Nobel Prize.

The inauguration of Israel's first solar field, at a kibbutz in the Negev desert, on June 5, 2011. (photo: Matthew Bell)

The inauguration of Israel’s first solar field, at a kibbutz in the Negev desert, on June 5, 2011. (photo: Matthew Bell)

WAIT!*!*!*!

What about the Gaza Strip, probably just miles from his kibbutz in the Negev desert?   Nearly 1.7 million Palestinians are sitting in the dark several hours every day without electricity.

Generators sitting on the sidewalks with extension cords running into the business.  Very common sight in Gaza.

Generators sitting on the sidewalks with extension cords running into the business.  A very common sight in Gaza.

Schools, hospitals and businesses rely on diesel-burning generators when the power goes off, obnoxiously loud and polluting.  Children do their homework by candlelight.  People are dying when burning candles set fires in the houses.

Battery-powered lanterns found in many homes.

Battery-powered lanterns found in many homes.

In June 2006, Israel destroyed Gaza’s power plant in retaliation for the kidnapping of Cpl. Gilad Shalit.  Power has never been completely restored.

The current capacity for electricity supply in the Gaza Strip is 242 MW (as of summer 2011).

The Gaza Strip receives most of its power, 120 MW, from Israel, while up to 100 MW are produced at the only power plant in Gaza, and 22 MW are imported from Egypt. Under ideal circumstances, this adds up to 242 MW versus a peak demand of up to 350 MW in 2011. By 2020, the peak demand for electricity in the Gaza Strip will be 550 MW, more than twice what is supplied today.   See Gaza in 2020: A liveable place?

We played a game of Risk sitting in the dark.

We played a game of Risk sitting in the dark.

Gaza has plenty of sun.  I know, I saw it.  Shouldn’t Israel (as the occupying power) be helping Gaza become energy independent?  In fact, Richard Falk, the UN Special Rapporteur, made that very recommendation in his report to the UN Human Rights Council on June 10, 2013, available here.

This is very frustrating.  A feasible solution to a serious problem could be deployed in a very short time, but Israeli officials aren’t talking about it, and the private sector in Israel appears more interested in helping with humanitarian efforts in Africa.

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Filed under Environment, Gaza, Israel, Occupation, People, United Nations