One-sided attacks on Israel in the media and at the United Nations (UN) during the recent Palestinian unrest on the border with Gaza are part of a pattern that has been ongoing since Israel’s victory in the Six Day War, according to Gerald Steinberg, president of NGO Monitor, an Israeli non-profit that reports on the activities of nongovernmental agencies in the Middle East.
Steinberg, a professor of political science at Bar-Ilan University, spoke on June 19 at Congregation Beit Tikvah at a lecture presented jointly by the congregation, Jewish National Fund of Ottawa, and B’nai Brith Canada.
In “an entirely predictable process,” he said, Israel “is declared guilty and ‘Now let’s find the evidence to fill that in.’”
In the recent case of Gaza, Steinberg pointed out that Hamas engineered the unrest to get a predictable response from Israel that would be used to make the Jewish state look bad in an unquestioning media and at the UN. He said the pattern of that manipulation has repeated itself multiple times in the years since Hamas seized control of Gaza in 2007.
Israel, he said, has not been prepared for the condemnations of its defensive actions that followed its unilateral withdrawal from Gaza in 2005 and that phrases such as “disproportionate use of force” and “collective punishment” have been used repeatedly in campaigns against Israel ever since. The Israeli government, he said, “may have learned something” in the ensuing years, “but maybe they haven’t,” about how to deal with the fallout from its defensive actions.
Steinberg pointed out that just a few hours before his lecture the United States withdrew from the UN Human Rights Council because of its excessive attacks against Israel and he questioned what Canada’s role would be in the UN given its campaign to obtain a seat on the UN Security Council.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, he said, sees Canada as a middle power – “a power that can be a broker between conflicting parties … through the good offices of the United Nations.
“But we now know the UN is a rigged game. The structure of the UN is inherently going to be heavily prone to anti-Israel activities. That’s not going to change so we might as well accept that and live with it,” he said.
Steinberg said the deck is stacked against Israel at the UN because the international organization’s largest voting bloc is the Organization of Islamic Cooperation comprised of 56 member countries. And although there are serious conflicts among Sunni and Shia Muslim countries, these countries all vote together when it comes to Israel.
This voting bloc, Steinberg said, explains why “rabidly anti-Israel” academics like Canadian Michael Lynk of Western University, or his American predecessor Richard Falk, are appointed to be the UN Human Rights Council’s special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories, and to other such jobs.
“If you have a position that is not anti-Israel, you are not going to get chosen for any of these jobs.”
This also explains, he said, why the UN Human Rights Council refrains from investigating human rights violations in countries like Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia or Egypt.
Steinberg questioned whether Canada would betray its principles in its campaign to obtain a seat on the Security Council – and pointed to Canada’s recent abstention on the recent UN vote condemning Israel for its actions during the latest Gaza unrest.
Too much of the international media, Stenberg added, follows a “pack” mentality unquestioningly accepting Hamas statements about the conflict with Israel and referring to terrorists as “militants” so as to avoid associating groups like Hamas with the terrorism it perpetrates.
Stenberg encouraged the audience to remain vigilant about what is going on in Israel and the Palestinian territories and to speak out – to the media, to political leaders and on campuses – when Israel is unfairly, or inaccurately, portrayed.