BBC article on Israel & UN HRC omits important context

On January 29th an article appeared in the Middle East section of the BBC News website on the subject of Israel’s refusal to participate in the UN Human Rights Council’s universal periodic review. 

UNHRC article 29 1

Despite the long-standing evidence of endemic bias against Israel on the part of the UN HRC and its predecessor, the BBC article states: [emphasis added]

“Israel has boycotted a regular review by the UN Human Rights Council, the first time any country has done so.

The move was expected as Israel has long been angered by what it claims is unfair criticism from the body.”

Established in March 2006 to replace the discredited UN Commission of Human Rights, the UN HRC swiftly proved itself to be no better than the body which preceded it. By April 2007 the council had passed nine resolutions condemning Israel – the only country which it specifically condemned. By 2010, the UN HRC has passed 32 resolutions against Israel, with those resolutions forming 48.1% of all the country-specific resolutions. By the end of 2012, the number of resolutions passed by the UN HRC against Israel had risen to 44, with Syria, for example, being the subject of eight resolutions in the same period of time. 

Israel is the only country for which the UN HRC saw fit to establish a permanent and special agenda item, with another of the council’s ten permanent agenda items reserved for all the 192 other countries together. The council’s Special Rapporteur on the Disputed Palestinian Territories – currently Richard Falk – is the only expert mandate with no date of expiry and its brief covers only Israel’s human rights record. Israel is the only country excluded from membership in the UN regional groups, which means – as explained here – that it cannot take part in some UN activity.

“Israel’s is the only UN permanent mission in Geneva denied membership in any of the world body’s five regional groups, a vital element for meaningful participation in UN bodies. Consequently, when the Commission’s fifty-three states, along with the one hundred or so other states that participate as observers, meet in their regional groups to share information on upcoming resolutions or other developments, Israel is the only country left out. Moreover, Israel’s exclusion from full membership in a regional group has effectively prevented it from membership on the Commission. Regimes such as Cuba, Zimbabwe, and Sudan are regularly re-elected.

Although Israel belongs in the Asian group, like its neighbors Jordan or Lebanon, opposition from Arab and Muslim states has barred Israel from joining.”

Bizarrely, despite all those well-known facts, the BBC apparently still considers it accurate to write that Israel “claims” to be subject to unfair criticism.

The article goes on to quote the BBC correspondent in Geneva, Imogen Foulkes:

“Israel’s action has prompted concern that it might undermine the UN’s human rights work, says the BBC’s Imogen Foulkes in Geneva.

Human rights experts fear other countries facing awkward questions might follow suit.

Even Israel’s biggest ally, the United States, had urged Israel to take part. The big question now is what – if anything – the UN can do about Israel’s refusal to participate, our correspondent adds.” 

Foulkes fails to make clear to the BBC audience the true nature of these universal periodic reviews when discussing real human rights abusing states. In March 2012 for example:

“A U.N. report ridiculed worldwide for lavishing praise on the Qaddafi regime’s human rights record was unanimously adopted today by the 47-nation UN Human Rights Council, with president Laura Dupuy Lasserre overruling the objection made in the plenary by UN Watch.”

And in October 2011 (this link is worth reading in full):

“…the Syrian vice-minister of foreign affairs and his entourage took their places in the Council chamber.  And then the Cubans said: “the Syrian government is working for the human rights of its people.”  The North Koreans said: “we commend Syria on its efforts taken to maintain security and stability.” The Iranians said: “we appreciate the efforts of the government of Syria to promote and protect human rights.”  Ditto Sudan, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Algeria, Lebanon, China, Zimbabwe, Burma/Myanmar, and so on.  

Four days later, on behalf of the three countries charged with compiling recommendations, Mexico reported to the Council:  “Syria received a total of 179 recommendations…It is a pleasure to inform you that 98 recommendations were accepted and 26 shall be considered.” Among the recommendations that “did not enjoy the support” of Syria were “immediately end attacks on peaceful protesters and bring violators to account,” “put an end to secret detentions” and “allow journalists to freely exercise their profession.” At the end of this stage of the UPR, the President of the Council turned to Syria and signed off with “I thank both you and your delegation for your participation in the UPR.”

At the time, there were 2,600 dead Syrian citizens at the hands of their own government. And Assad got the message about the human rights bona fides of the UN.

The next and final stage of the UPR took place in Geneva on March 15, 2012 – by which time there were 11,000 dead.  On that occasion, the Council formally adopted the so-called “outcome” of the UPR – a report containing no findings and no decision to take action.  It was gaveled through without comment from the President with these words:  “May I now propose that the Council adopts the decision on the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of Syria?”  I see no objection.”

There are now over 60,000 dead in Syria.”

The BBC article goes on to state that:

“A joint statement by eight Israeli human rights groups said: “It is legitimate for Israel to express criticism of the work of the council and its recommendations, but Israel should do so through engagement with the Universal Periodic Review, as it has done in previous sessions.” “

It does not, however, bother to inform readers which NGOs made that statement or what their political motivations for doing so might be. 

“After the session, eight human rights groups called on Israel to participate in the UPR process, including Gisha – Legal Center for Freedom of Movement, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, Rabbis for Human Rights and Yesh Din.”

This information is particularly significant due to the fact that:

“The official UN document entitled “summary of stakeholder submissions,” which is intended to drive Israel’s UPR, includes allegations from NGOs that object to “the Jewish character of the state,” and demand that “five million Palestinians” should “return” to Israel to seal the deal. “

Beyond its ‘Israel on the naughty step’ tone, does this BBC article contribute to its audience’s understanding of the reasons behind Israel’s decision not to attend the UPR or the deeply problematic nature of the UN HRC specifically with regard to Israel, as well as in general? 

Not in the least. And with the UN HRC’s controversial – and tediously predictable – report on Israeli settlements  released on January 31st (more on that later), that failure to inform accurately becomes even more significant. 


36 comments on “BBC article on Israel & UN HRC omits important context

  1. There is a superb YouTube vid of Robbie Sabel explaining “Sui Genaris”. That is, the holding of Israel, and Israel alone to standards NO OTHER nation is expected to follow. It’s well worth your time.

    • Not many nations have held a native population hostage on their own land for over six decades and continues to eat up what little land they have left and treat them like animals. Israel is not like many other nations and it should most certainly be held accountable to its appalling behaviour. If you choose to blind yourself to blatant injustice that is your personal choice. Don’t expect everyone else to join you.

      • What an apalling nonsense.
        Please provide us with some of your sources about “own land” and ” over sixty years”.
        You don`t even know that the population of Jerusalem was predominantly Jewish for a long time, till Arab migration to the British mandate changed the demography.

        • Read Avi Shlaim’s “The Iron Wall”
          Another interesting piece is:

          I know very well that Jews have existed in Palestine for a long time but so have christians and muslims. This land was for the natives who lived on it of whatever religion not for Russians, Americans, British, French etcc who just happen to be Jews. To define it as Jewish is simply racist. I know you will have all sorts of excuses for that. I have heard them all. Not convincing in the least.

          • And “treat them like animals” indeed! What ignorant claptrap. You’re talking about the country which was the first in the Middle East to give Arab women the vote, and which provides humanitarian and medical aid to people at home and away irrespective of colour or creed. If you want to condemn real examples of humans being treated “like animals” turn your attention to the plight of girls and women in swathes of the so-called Third World.

          • Your first comment is pure drama. Your second implies immigration is wrong. Do you believe the UK should be for ‘natives’ only?

            If you have a mind capable of reasoning you will know that Israel exists purely and simply because of the persecution of the Jews throughout history. If Jews were murdered all over Europe, and later expelled from the Arab world what would you have them do? Trust us again? Israel would not be necessary if not for centuries of European and Middle Eastern hatred.

            A Jewish state is no more racist than the many Islamic states and indeed, far less. You can certainly live in Israel if you are Christian, Muslim, Druze, Ba’hai or of any other faith. There is no religious persecution in Israel. This is not necessarily the case in other countries.

          • catnap, the Palestinian Authority has it as official policy that no Jew can live in areas administered by them. Meanwhile, 20% of Israel is Arab. Hamas has an official policy of genocide against every last Jew on earth – all there in its charter if you bothered to read it.

            Who’s the racist?

        • And you’re all clearly extremely educated and open minded.
          Can you for one minute imagine that the citizens of Gaza and the West Bank were Jewish and that the government in Israel was Arab and then just imagine that the Arab government in Israel is behaving exactly as the current one does, not worse and not better, and tell me with a straight face that it is totally just and not in any way racist.
          Going back to my nap now. Clearly a dialogue on this website is not worth wasting my time on.

      • You should modify your name to simply ‘crap’!
        It’s hard to believe the ignorance you express with such seeming passion. Aren’t you embarrassed?
        Not many nations have held a native population hostage on their own land
        I think American Indians, Australian Aborigines, New Zealand Maoris, Canadian Indians, AND MANY OTHERS would have something to say about that, and were talking a LOT MORE than 6 decades. That’s not to mention the decimation of many of these indigenous people in the conquest of these lands.

        If you’re talking about Israel and the now Palestinian areas, then the ‘native population’, as you like to call it, and no doubt are referring to Arabs, mostly came to that area from neighbouring lands during the Ottoman period and later British Mandate to work for the Jews who were building and needed labour. You should read the accounts of those like Mark Twain who travelled the land in the late 1800’s to see how empty they were of people.

        This land was for the natives who lived on it of whatever religion not for Russians, Americans, British, French etcc who just happen to be Jews.
        WRONG! It was to be the Land of the Jews – for the Jews – ANY JEW from ANY WHERE!. It was precisely the point of having their own land, especially following events during WW2 when half the total Jewish population was exterminated. That for somebody like you not to understand the reasons for that, or see the justification, just shows your complete absence of ethics and morality.
        I know you will have all sorts of excuses for that. I have heard them all. Not convincing in the least.
        Excuse??? You moron – HALF THEIR NUMBER WERE ROUNDED UP AND MURDERED for thinking they had integrated into their previous country of residence – what kind of EXCUSE would suit you?


  2. The BBC is deeply and hopelessly in love with the UN, since it is a power-hungry, corrupt, unaccountable and thoroughly biased organisation leeching off taxpayers money, much like the BBC itself. and when the UN, as usual, is in Israel-bashing mode, the BBC is in its element. It was wall-to-wall Human Rights Council on the World Service today with the Israel-bashing featuring on every newcast and also in more depth on other programmes.

    It was the same blatant old spin – with the HRC portrayed as some august body worthy of veneration and Israel the only one to criticise it.

    However, one Jonathan Marcus did diverge rather sharply from the propagandist consensus, responding to a reported anti-Israel statement by the HRC with, “Well they would say that, wouldn’t they.” He was cut short faster than greased lightning after making that comment, which had me wondering if I’d heard him correctly.

    Marcus will have to watch it. Criticising Israel’s enemies is not a good career move at the BBC.

    • So perhaps when the UN partitioned Palestine it was being a “power-hungry, corrupt, unaccountable and thoroughly biased organisation”. Agreed.

      • catnap, it is clear that you do not dispute this or that specific policy – your problem is with Jews having a country at all.

        By the way, as for “Russian, Americans” etc, you may be interested to learn that most Israeli Jews derive from Arab countries, where they were indeed treated under a system of Arab apartheid called dhimmitude, and were then ethnicallt cleansed from Arab nations, who stole all their property.

        But please, carry on in your drama queen ignorance. You are a hater.

        • If it makes you feel better about yourself supporting an apartheid state to think of me as a hater then go ahead. I am glad I help you feel better.

          • And of course Catnip, Minorities in Arab nations, or any Muslim nation for that matter are treated SO much better than any minority in Israel. Try being gay, or a Bahia in any Muslim nation. Adam is absolutely correct. You are either an anti-semite or an idiot. Or both.

    • Not sure if I got this right:

      “However, one Jonathan Marcus did diverge rather sharply from the propagandist consensus, responding to a reported anti-Israel statement by the HRC with, “Well they would say that, wouldn’t they.” He was cut short faster than greased lightning after making that comment, which had me wondering if I’d heard him correctly.”

      Marcus could have been responding to the statement from the Russians objecting to Israel’s attack on the arms convoy into Lebanon or the “military research centre.” (After their brief support for Israel in ’48 – only because Russia was competing with Britain for hegemony in the area – the Russians started to back the Arabs and have ever since.)

      I tried to clarify, but unfortunately didn’t note which WS programme it was on, so couldn’t get back to Marcus’ comment.

      Either way, of course, he’s right.

  3. Great article again Hadar.

    Few have taken the trouble to tabulate the sins of the UN HRC.

    I have passed this post on to others. It is just superb in exposing the biases of this abomination.

  4. Pingback: BBC ignores UN HRC report’s political agenda – and worse | BBC Watch

  5. Don’t you guys think it is a bit lame and rather pathetic to accuse people of anti-semitism just because they disagree with the policies of the state of Israel?! it seems to be the weapon of choice however what you fail to realise is that it is used so willy nilly and so often that it has lost all meaning. So as I already said if it makes you feel better about yourselves to believe that people disagree with you because they’re anti-semites then you go ahead and think that.

    Now I don’t have time to respond to every point each of you is making and you are all so clearly hostile and unreasonable that a debate is pointless but if you really are interested I have provided some links. Here you go again
    -Avi Shlaim ‘The Iron wall’ – A must read if you haven’t read it. It covers the first 30 years of the state of Israel and based on Israel’s own declassified documents not on propaganda either from one side or another.
    -and another interesting writer is Miko Peled son of Matti Peled an Israeli General from the 1967 war.

    All these writers are Israeli so please don’t be so predictable as to accuse them of self hate.

    As you will see from the New York Times article is that Israel is shooting itself in the foot with its behaviour. I am amazed anyone who supports it can’t see that and instead just eggs it on its way to the abyss. Living in a bubble where you think everyone hates you and therefore you close your eyes and your ears is no use neither to yourselves nor to the state that you support.

    • Catnap; It seem self evident to me. When the world focus’s almost exclusively on Israels actions, while ignoring: China in Tibet, Myanmar agressions against minorities, inaction in South Sudan, and minimal activity on Syria. Actions speak louder than words. Your words always condemn Israel. If even a little of the UNHRCs attention was turned to OTHER issues, anti semitism would not be an issue. Just the four action mentioned have killed millions and no one cares. Or do we only care when that care is purchased with Arab oil money and underlying Jew Hatred?

      • IT is not so self evident.
        You are absolutely right that there is hypocricy in dealings with different countries but that’s mostly to do with geopolitics. There is also a difference between how states deal with each other (or the UN if you like) and how their people feel about it.
        There are of course many problems and injustices in the world not only in Israel but they are not all ignored as you say. Syria has been condemned to hell and back by the UN, they can’t pass a resolution because of the geopolitical interests of Russia and China but everyone else has condemned the regime unreservedly and they have boycotted them in every way possible and they have recognised the opposition you really can’t say that the UN is turning a blind eye to the appalling events in Syria. We all know and recognise Syria is a dictatorship and it is being treated as such.
        With Israel many of the Western countries are very reluctant to criticise their actions whatever they do and this is where people feel obliged to say something because politicians are not reflecting what people are feeling.
        Yes there is hypocricy. Some of it may have to do with Arab oil but not always. If that were the case the Israeli-Palestinian issue would have been resolved long ago and look how Iraq was attacked in 2003 despite a massive opposition from all the Arab countries. It is not so simple, there are all sorts of reasons at play and in each case the reasons are different. I really do not believe ‘Jew hatred’ as you put it is a big issue here. Anti semitism -like all kinds of other racism- does exist but it is not the defining factor in people’s reaction to Israel.
        Israel -with the blessing of the west- considers itself to be a beacon of democracy. It should then be held up to the high standards it claims to set itself not to the standards of neighbouring dictatorships.

      • Also my words are condemning Israel, as you say, because this happens to be what we are talking about here. I don’t feel I need to bring in examples of every other conflict on earth when it is this particular conflict we are talking about.

        • Further, I’m more interested in actions. The fact that Israel still receives 80+% of UN resolutions in condemnation speaks volumes. And name me on other country daily threatened with extinction and genocide. And not only from Iran. If Israel was only fractionally what you and your ilk claim it to be, there would no longer be any Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza!

          • And if it wasn’t like what me and my ilk claim it to be, there would already be a Palestinian state and there wouldn’t have been a decades long occupation. Occupations are a thing of the 18th century, in today’s morality it is not acceptable to treat people like that. It doesn’t have to be as extreme as extermination for it to be unjust.
            Israel is not threatened with extinction that is just ridiculous propaganda. The only extinction I can see is that of a Palestinian state not that of the Israeli state and as you say actions are a lot more important than talk.
            In any case what I am arguing is the way you your ‘ilk’ defend Israel blindly is not doing it any favours. Arguments are pointless, time will tell.

          • Yet why is it that of the 100s of millions of refugees since 1945, only those 600,000 Palestinians remain unresolved. Yet the fate of 800,000 Jews expelled on pain of death from Arab states is forgotten.Of millions dead in war and conflict, only the Israeli Palestinian conflict seems to attract universal attention. I still say Petrodollars and anti semitism are the answer!.

  6. “Yet the fate of 800,000 Jews expelled on pain of death from Arab states is forgotten”
    This is disingenous in the extreme. I don’t think those 800 000 Jews want to go back to their Arab states. I am sure some do but there isn’t a great movement or demands for them to do so.
    “.Of millions dead in war and conflic”
    Not true. Iraq attracted massive attention and rightly so. Syria is attracting massive attention and rightly so and there are many more examples.
    “Petrodollars and anti semitism are the answer!.”
    As I said that is just a way of sticking your head in the sand and going lalalalalala. It’s fine if you want to do that. There is comfort in sticking one’s head in the sand but it will not resolve any problems and the criticisms will continue coming.

    • Catnap; After WW1 more than a million Greeks were driven out of Turkey. About 1/2 that # of Turks were forced out of Greece. Today there is no refugee problem. During India/Pakistan independence more than 100 million people were displaced. They still have problems, but refugees are not among them. Tens of millions were displaced after WW2. No lingering refugee problem. Only the Palestinians are a persistant problem. Only the Palestinians have refugee status passed down as a hereditary inheritance. So tell me again that this is just a question of right and wrong.
      “Sui Genaris”. An entire body of law applicable only to Israel. You are an anti-semite. If it quacks like a duck!

  7. If your definition of an anti semite is someone who opposes the policies of the state of Israel then that’s fine by me call me what you like.

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