By Vic Rosenthal
The UN’s “Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967”, John Dugard, has produced a report which claims that Israel’s actions are forms of colonialism and apartheid.
The report is the usual stuff. Some excerpts from the introduction:
The siege of Gaza is a form of collective punishment in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 12 August 1949. The indiscriminate use of military power against civilians and civilian targets has resulted in serious war crimes.
The Wall being built in East Jerusalem is an instrument of social engineering designed to achieve the Judaization of Jerusalem by reducing the number of Palestinians in the city.
The international community has identified three regimes as inimical to human rights – colonialism, apartheid and foreign occupation. Israel is clearly in military occupation of the OPT. At the same time elements of the occupation constitute forms of colonialism and of apartheid, which are contrary to international law.
Dugard supports his conclusions with facts and figures about homes bulldozed, children killed, etc. It is important to keep in mind that all of these facts and figures come from one source: the Palestinians (Israel quite reasonably refuses to talk to him). Such information is at least highly exaggerated and probably to a large extent pure fantasy.
Dugard is not entirely blind to the fact that the Palestinians bear some responsibility for the situation:
Persons responsible for committing war crimes by the firing of shells and rockets into civilian areas without any apparent military advantage should be apprehended or prosecuted. This applies to Palestinians who fire Qassam rockets into Israel; and more so to members of the IDF who have committed such crimes on a much greater scale.
Nevertheless, one needs to understand that not only is he personally biased in favor of the Palestinians, but he is institutionally required to see only one side:
At the outset it is necessary to stress the scope and limitations of my mandate. I am required to report on violations of human rights and international humanitarian law by Israel in the OPT. This means that it is outside my mandate to report on violations of the human rights of Israelis by Palestinians, on the violation of human rights by the Palestinian Authority, or on human rights violations in the OPT not caused by Israel. This does not mean that I am unconcerned about such human rights violations. In my report I shall refer to the fact that the firing of Qassam rockets from Gaza into Israel violates international humanitarian law and is accordingly to be condemned. I shall also make reference to the strike in the West Bank, which has seriously damaged education and health, and to the increase of crime in the OPT, in the context of the humanitarian crisis in the OPT occasioned by the withholding of funds from the Palestinian Authority by Israel. I shall not consider the violation of human rights caused by Palestinian suicide bombers. Nor shall I consider the violation of human rights caused by the political conflict between Fatah and Hamas in the OPT. Such matters are of deep concern to me but my mandate precludes me from examining them. [my emphasis — ed.]
If the UN were even a halfway unbiased organization, there wouldn’t be a “Special Rapporteur…etc.” on the violation of Palestinian rights — there would be a commission trying to understand the situation as a whole and trying to find a just solution. But that would be a different UN.