Overview: Palestinian Manipulation of the International Community
Amb. Alan Baker
Background of the Israeli-Palestinian Dispute
The lengthy and continuing conflict between Israel and the Palestinians has evolved, over the years, through various phases or cycles of terror on the one hand, and attempts at peace-making on the other.
These cycles have ranged from sporadic, individual, and organized acts of violence, terror, and armed conflict by the various Palestinian terror organizations, individually or collectively. They have included organized, centrally orchestrated, and systematic military action by shelling of Israeli towns and villages by Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and other terrorist organizations based in, and emanating from, the Gaza Strip. Similarly, these cycles have often evolved into periods of outright low and medium-intensity armed conflict, with reaction by Israel to the Palestinian terror attacks, in defense of its towns, villages, and civilian population.
On the other hand, there have also been phases and cycles that have included periodic attempts, at the behest of, and with the active involvement of, the international community, to seek a solution to the conflict through negotiations and attempts at reconciliation and bon-voisinage between the two sides and the two peoples.
The backdrop to all these cycles includes a panoply of issues ranging from conflicting historic and legal claims to the territory, uncompromising religious fanaticism to the exclusion of any possibility of reconciliation and coexistence, mutual and conflicting claims to self-determination and sovereign rights, issues of physical control and authority, and external influence and pressures from regional and international players generated by partisan political and economic interests.
The International Community
To this backdrop there must be added another major and increasingly influential factor in the complex equation: the international community, its institutions, and its basic perceptions.
Clearly, all the abovementioned issues relate to an area that has, since time immemorial, captured the imagination, the emotions, and the interests of almost the entire world, with the home of the three monotheistic religions. As such, this area is considered to be an arena in which citizens of the world, and virtually all members of the international community, consider that they have an intimate interest and concern.
This deep and complex involvement by the international community and its penchant for active intervention and for advancing its own political and economic interests, serves to render it wide open to manipulation, with the aim of utilizing its power, influence, the weight of its public opinion, its economic clout, and its strategic interests, in order to tip the negotiating scales and thereby influence the outcome of the issues in dispute between Israel and the Palestinians. As such, the various bodies and organizations within the international community find themselves ripe for manipulation by the Palestinian propaganda machinery. International organizations, whether inter-governmental, non-governmental or social-society bodies, are theoretically and logically expected to function according to, and within the framework of, their professional mandates or constitutional instruments. The term “specialized agencies” is indicative of the fact that each such “specialized agency” within the UN system has its specific field of expertise.1
However, as is evident from many of the politically generated resolutions adopted by such organizations within and outside the UN system (such as UNESCO, World Heritage Organization, ILO, ICAO, and for many years, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement), these organizations are being abused and manipulated into adopting political resolutions that bear little or no relevance to their specialized professional fields of concern. This is the result of the weight of political pressures applied by their constituent-state members and observers,political NGOs, and through the UN voting system of block, regional voting.
Such activity is rarely out of genuine concern or regard for the substantive legal rights at issue, or as part of the professional purpose or mandate upon which the organizations exist and function, nor are they out of a regard for genuine norms of justice.
In so permitting themselves to be politically manipulated and abused, such international organizations in fact lose the professional credibility, relevance, and the very purpose for which they were established.
The Peace Negotiating Process
In any genuine and sincere peace negotiation process, the basic assumption would be that both negotiasting parties entertain an earnest, serious, and bona fide intention and desire to reach agreement and to establish a solid, sustainable, and peaceful relationship between them on all levels, including governmental, economic, social, and people-to-people, with a view to achieving normal, peaceful relations and viable bon-voisinage.
However, the ongoing, intense, and concerted actions by the Palestinian leadership,media, clergy, academia, and others to manipulate virtually every international institution and organization in order to delegitimize Israel, to enhance commercial and cultural boycotts and sanctions, and to incite the public and younger generations to hate Israel and Jews, cannot, in any circumstances be deemed compatible with peace negotiations.
Those who seek to sow hatred of Israel and Jews through distortion of the precepts of Islam, through incitement of Christian communities in the West to deny the very historic foundations of Judaism, to take hostage the UN, international courts, and other international organs, in order to vilify Israel, to abuse foreign states’ criminal justice systems in order to target Israeli leaders, to cynically use children and forms of trickery in order to manipulate media sympathy, to distort norms and terms of international law in order to single out Israel – those who engage in such activities are not genuinely intent on seeking peaceful relations. They come with unclean hands.
The international community in general, and especially those leaders who are so actively involved in pressing for a solution to the Israel-Palestinian dispute and actively participating in the peace process, must take note of this situation, rather than delude themselves into thinking that there exists a genuine will among the Palestinians to make peace with Israel.
The Chapters of This Book
The aim of this book is to expose the extent and the lengths to which the Palestinian leadership and institutions have manipulated, and continue to actively manipulate, the institutions and the very perceptions of the international community with the aim of influencing them and their actions by forcing a very selective, partisan, misleading, and patently false narrative.
In presenting such an extensive picture of Palestinian manipulation in all spheres of international community life – political, economic, social, legal, and religious
Following is a brief description and summary of each chapter in the book, each one analyzing Palestinian manipulation of the international community from a unique and specific angle.
Professor Robbie Sabel of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, in his opening chapter entitled “Manipulating International Law as Part of Anti-Israel ‘Lawfare,’” traces the ongoing phenomenon within the international community, at the inspiration of the Palestinians, of manipulating international law in a way that invents, distorts, and misinterprets commonly accepted rules and terminology that are applied only vis-a-vis Israel and are not applied to other states or in other situations.
Prof. Sabel cites examples such as the deliberate misinterpretation, distortion, and selective application of classical and long-held concepts and terms of international law, only vis-à-vis Israel, such as occupation, “right of return,” proportionality, laws of armed conflict, self-defense, fact-finding missions, and the cynical use of UN Security Council and General Assembly resolutions.
He concludes that the systematic practice of devising tailor-made rules of international law for application only where Israel is concerned, in effect undermines international law itself and can have an insidious and corrosive effect on the rule of law generally. Read the chapter
Dr. Rephael Ben-Ari, in his chapter entitled “Universal Jurisdiction: Learning the Costs of Political Manipulation the Hard Way,” traces the way in which Palestinians and pro-Palestinian groups since the late 1990s have abused the concept of universal jurisdiction as part of their “lawfare” against Israel, in the national courts in various countries.
With the noble aim of enhancing the outreach of global criminal justice, several countries, mostly Western, enabled their courts to hear claims against foreign persons, alleging war crimes carried out abroad, based on the principle of universal jurisdiction. This brought about a flood of claims that practically turned certain European capitals into self-appointed international criminal courts. The concomitant harassment caused to accused officials, the headlines reporting such an investigation, and the political embarrassment intended, were designed to have an immediate impact on international public opinion, as well as to impact the bilateral relations between the forum state and that of the suspected official, all this without any substantial basis for a prosecution.
Dr. Ben-Ari reviews the various proceedings initiated against Israeli officials in the legal systems of Belgium, Spain, and the United Kingdom, pointing to the dangers of its unrestrained application, as well as the lack of consensus surrounding its implementation. He concludes that the intensive manipulation of universal jurisdiction against Israel has resulted in a counter-reaction in which those states affected found it necessary to modify their legislation so as to limit such abuse of their courts. As such, he concludes that the “lawfare” against Israel through abusing the bona fides of national legal systems has in fact set back the cause of international global justice. Read the chapter
Attorney Hillel Neuer, Esq., Executive Director of UN Watch, Geneva, in his chapter “The Demonization of Israel at the United Nations in Europe – Focus on the Human Rights Council and the UN Specialized Agencies,” analyzes the politicization and abuse of UN Specialized Agencies and human rights bodies, examining specifically the situation at the Human Rights Council, the most prominent UN body in Geneva, as well as at three other Europe-based UN agencies: the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Labor Organization (ILO) in Geneva, and the UN Educational, Social and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in Paris. He also discusses the blatantly anti-Israel functioning of the UN Special Rapporteur on the Palestinian Territories and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Attorney Neuer details the manner in which these organizations and personalities systematically and willfully single out Israel, above all other activities, in stark violation of their constitutive instruments, thereby prejudicing their own professional credibility as well as that of the UN as a whole. Read the chapter
Professor Gerald Steinberg, President of NGO Monitor, in a chapter entitled “The Role of NGOs in the Palestinian Political War Against Israel,” exposes the extent of manipulation and abuse by the Palestinian political machinery of various international non-governmental organizations aimed at influencing “social society” and waging a damaging political war against Israel. He traces the development of the attempts to delegitimize Israel to the 1991 infamous Durban UN racism conference. He exposes the extent of governmental involvement in financing NGO activities and indicates how many of the political advocacy NGOs are funded by foreign governments, primarily by the European Union (EU), European governments, the US and Australia, as well as private foundations, many providing millions of dollars and euros annually.
Prof. Steinberg traces the influence of politically oriented NGOs in the development and drafting of such UN resolutions as that on the establishment of the Goldstone UN fact-finding mission into the Gaza fighting, Israel’s security barrier, and others. He covers the activity of NGOs in influencing the actions of the UN Human Rights Council and in influencing European governmental policies. He brings as examples the activities of Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch as leading NGOs in the campaign against Israel. Read the chapter
Professor Eugene Kontorovich of Northwest University and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, in his chapter entitled “Politicizing the International Criminal Court,” shows the extent to which Palestinian diplomatic and political efforts are attempting to turn the International Criminal Court into a bargaining chip in negotiations, and a significant weapon in the “lawfare” campaign against Israel.
The constant threats to institute politicized prosecutions, including a recent attempt by Turkey to refer Israel to the court through a complaint by Comoros regarding the Turkish flotilla issue, serve both to flout the rules that established the Court, as well as to further the institution’s politicization and trivialization. Read the chapter
Ambassador Dr. Dore Gold, President of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, in a chapter entitled “Degrading International Institutions: The United Nations Goldstone Report,” analyzes the way in which the UN Human Rights Council, on the basis of false media and other reports, was manipulated into establishing a UN fact-finding mission headed by South African Judge Richard Goldstone, to study the Gaza Conflict, with a mandate that determined in advance Israel’s guilt.
Amb. Gold explains how the Hamas terror organization manipulated the activities of the fact-finding mission by blatantly distorting facts presented to the members of the mission. The questionable methodology used by the mission, the prejudiced and biased views of some of its members, as well as the selective use of data and information fed to them by Hamas to the exclusion of widely known facts, all indicate the extent to which the fact-finding mission, the UN Human Rights Council and the good name of the UN itself, were manipulated and abused. Read the chapter
Ms. Sinem Tezyapar, of the Foundation for the Preservation of National Values (Turkey), an expert in the role of religion in diplomacy, in her chapter “The Abuse of Islam as Part of the Demonization of Israel,” examines the religious manipulation and abuse by extreme and fanatical Islamic bodies and personalities, of some of the most fundamental and basic precepts of Islam, as part of the demonization of Israel and the Jewish people.
She reviews the use and effect of ideological hate propaganda and the question of how basic misconceptions, misinformation, and distortion, on the part of some Muslims, and the deliberate misinterpretation of the Qur’an, serve to demonize Israel and dehumanize Jews.
She analyzes various oft-repeated allegations and insults against the Jewish people, Holocaust denial by leading Islamic officials and clerics, distortion of Quranic precepts such as jihad, qital, incitement to suicide bombing, and anti-Semitism. Read the chapter
Dr. Dexter Van Zile, Christian Media Analyst for the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA), in his chapter “Palestinian Christian Abuse of Christian Organizations in the West,” reviews the manipulation and abuse by Arab Christian activists and bodies, of Christian church organizations and communities both in the Middle East and in the West, as a further weapon in the anti-Israel arsenal of the Palestinian leadership.
He analyzes the supersessionist and anti-Semitic motivation and messaging behind such basic and rabid Christian anti-Israel instruments as the “Kairos Palestine Document,” the Church of Scotland document and the policies of the United Church of Canada, and the extent to which they oppose, negate, and run ultra vires to scriptural texts, historical presence, and theological discourse, all intended to negate the legitimacy of the existence of a Jewish state among Christian communities in the West, and specifically in Canada and the United States.
He points to some of the manipulative tactics of such personalities as the Rev.Naim Ateek, founder of Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center, and South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, patron and sponsor of Sabeel, in encouraging Christian communities to view the Palestinians as the modern-day Jesus and the Israelis as if they are crucifying the Palestinians. Read the chapter
Dr. Rephael Ben-Ari, in his chapter entitled “UNRWA,” studies the way in which the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) has during the last few decades been manipulated into crossing the lines of relief and humanitarianism for which it was established, deep into the political realm, and has in fact become involved in an intensive, world-embracing lobbying effort, tailored to attract international public attention to the political problem of Palestinian refugees and a powerful tool within anti-Israel propaganda campaigns.
By UNRWA’s very nature, aimed at upholding of the concept of a Palestinian “right of return,” its determined policy of inflating the number of refugees, and its breeding of an atmosphere of hatred and violence among Palestinian youth through inter alia glorification in its schools of terrorists activity, one may wonder whether it is not abusing the aims behind its initial establishment and is beingused as a weapon of Palestinian propaganda.
In large part, this is the outcome of the fact that UNRWA lacks meaningful outside control, and receives hardly any political guidance from any of the relevant international bodies that are in a position to provide direction, thus effectively enjoying wide authority and freedom of action. This situation allows UNRWA’s leadership, as well as interested parties – first and foremost the Palestinian leadership and extremist groups, and some Arab (host) countries – to manipulate a vast UN machinery sponsored by the international taxpayers’ good-will contributions, using it as a tool for the promotion of certain political agendas. Read the chapter
Finally, Philippe Assouline, Esq., UCLA International Relations Dept., lawyer, and commentator on media issues, in his chapter “Manufacturing and Exploiting Compassion – Abuse of the Media by Palestinian Propaganda,” examines the manner in which skillful and well-oiled Palestinian manipulation of the international media manufactures public compassion and hostility to Israel.
He analyzes the deliberate Palestinian use of children as weapons of mass deception, staged media propaganda and news deception, manipulative use of Western narratives of injustice, and control and manipulation of journalists and correspondents. Read the chapter
About the editor:
Ambassador Alan Baker, director of the Institute for Contemporary Affairs at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, is one of Israel’s leading international law experts. He served as the legal adviser and deputy director-general of the Israel Foreign Ministry from 1996 to 2004, followed by four years (2004 – 2008) as Israel’s ambassador to Canada. In addition to his membership in the Israel Bar, Ambassador Baker is a member of the International Law Association, the International Institute of Humanitarian Law, and the International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists, and serves as a member of Israel’s panel of arbitrators at the Permanent Court of Arbitration (The Hague). His website is: www.ambassadoralanbaker.com.
1 See Articles 55 and 57 of the United Nations Charter which set out the principles that serve as the basis for the functioning of the Specialized Agencies, including “solutions of international economic, social, health and related problems; and international cultural and educational cooperation” – as defined in their basic instruments.