By Ramona Wadi
So “deeply concerned” is the UN at the Israeli raid of the offices of Defence for Children International-Palestine (DCIP), that the belated official statement by the special rapporteurs suggests that Israel – a colonial, military occupation and apartheid regime – should instead be protecting the organization and its work. DCIP is, of course, one of the NGOs which expose Israel’s human rights violations.
Outlining the obligations of an occupying power, as the UN has done, thus serves no purpose other than to highlight the UN’s refusal to act against Israel, because there is not the slightest chance that the Israeli government will take up the international organization’s recommendations.
“An occupying power with a true commitment to human rights would protect and encourage the work of human rights defenders, and not ostracise, harass or silence them,” said the UN officials.
DCIP’s work on the persecution of children by the Israeli state and its illegal settlers exposes recurring patterns which the UN knows full well are part of an entrenched system put together by a regime that violates international law with impunity. The spin in the rapporteurs’ statement also normalizes Israeli impunity.
“We are aware of the long-standing criticism of the lack of transparent and impartial investigations in apparent violations of Palestinian human rights by the Israeli military,” they declared. UN “awareness” rests with “criticism”, and not the human rights violations committed by Israel which are condemned by impartial investigations. It is typical of the UN to gloss over the human rights violations in order to focus on one sliver of their consequence, albeit with no ramifications for Israel.
Citing “apparent violations” only serves as a premise from which to launch into rhetoric about the occupier’s obligations, which are neither implemented nor enforced. Without a committed assertion that Israel is indeed committing violations, there is less obligation upon the international community to intervene. Hence the growing discrepancy between international law and the upholding of such legislation, which is also manifest in the UN’s refusal to hold Israel accountable for anything.
Furthermore, the UN’s lack of transparency when it comes to Israel’s human rights violations is also reflected in the manner in which it treats human rights organizations that try to raise the alarm about unbridled colonial violence against the Palestinians. There is no reciprocity on behalf of the UN towards DCIP, for example, when it comes to the invaluable work the organization has done in attempts to safeguard the rights of Palestinian children.
On the contrary, the imbalance is such that human rights organizations are expected to refer to the UN, and in the process bolster the legitimacy of the international institution which has yet to answer for its role in creating Israel in the first place. Of Palestinian children killed by Israeli soldiers and settlers, or tried in Israel’s military courts, or held in Israeli prisons, the UN expresses no meaningful concern, in much the same vein that it refused to accept that Israel was founded upon the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from 1948 onwards.
The UN knows that Israel is not committed to protecting human rights; in that sense, the two entities share a common agenda. Away from the usual rhetoric that UN officials spout when cornered into giving a statement, the picture which keeps emerging is that of an organization seeking to protect Israel at all costs. That’s where the UN’s “deep concerns” really lie.
– Ramona Wadi is a staff writer for Middle East Monitor, where this article was originally published. She contributed this article to the Palestine Chronicle.