donderdag 5 februari 2015

William Schabas stapt uit VN-commissie die Gaza Oorlog onderzoekt

 
Schabas schreef in zijn ontslagbrief aan de VN onderzoekscommissie:
 
In early August 2014, when I was asked if I would accept a nomination to the Commission of Inquiry, I was not requested to provide any details on any of my past statements and other activities concerning Palestine and Israel. Of course, my views on Israel and Palestine as well as on many other issues were well known and very public. My curriculum vitae was readily available indicating public lectures and writings on the subject. My opinions were frequently aired on my blog. This work in defence of human rights appears to have made me a huge target for malicious attacks which, if Israel’s complaint is to be taken at face value, will only intensify in the weeks to come.
 
Zijn visie op Israel en Israelische leiders was inderdaad bekend. Hij vindt dat Netanyahu in de beklaagdenbank hoort, hij had ook niet bepaald lovende woorden voor Peres, en hij steunt radikaal anti-Israelsiche organisaties zoals Al Haq, geleid door Shawan Jabarin die eerder is veroordeeld voor betrokkenheid bij terrorisme. Hij is tegen vrede en een compromis en wijst Israels bestaansrecht af. In een van zijn blogs noemt Schabas hem zelfs een vriend.
Zijn eerdere activiteiten en zijn duidelijk verkondigde sympathieën maken Schabas uiteraard totaal ongeschikt voor zijn taak, maar daar dacht de VN Mensenrechtenraad blijkbaar anders over, en dat mag natuurlijk niet verbazen. Het toont slechts, wederom, hoe bevooroordeeld deze organisatie is.
 
Can you imagine hiring anyone for any position where objectivity is a key component of the job, and not even asking a single question about such conflicts of interest?
On the contrary. Schabas' description of how he was chosen implies that the UNHRC chose him because of his well-known attitudes towards Israel, not in spite of them!
 
RP
---------------
 
 
From Reuters:
 
The head of a U.N. inquiry into last summer's conflict between Israel and Gaza said on Monday he would resign after Israeli allegations of bias due to consultancy work he did for the Palestine Liberation Organisation.

Canadian academic William Schabas was appointed last August by the head of the United Nations Human Rights Council to lead a three-member group looking into alleged war crimes during Israel's military offensive in Gaza.

In a letter to the commission, a copy of which was seen by Reuters, Schabas said he would step down immediately to prevent the issue from overshadowing the preparation of the report and its findings, which are due to be published in March.

Schabas' departure highlights the sensitivity of the U.N. investigation just weeks after prosecutors at the International Criminal Court in The Hague said they had started a preliminary inquiry into alleged atrocities in the Palestinian territories.

In the letter, Schabas said a legal opinion he wrote for the Palestine Liberation Organisation in 2012, for which he was paid $1,300, was not different from advice he had given to many other governments and organisations.

"My views on Israel and Palestine as well as on many other issues were well known and very public," he wrote. "This work in defence of human rights appears to have made me a huge target for malicious attacks (...)."
 
Everyone knew Schabas was biased. He referred to Zionists as "enemies." He participated in a kangaroo court against Israel. Even he admitted he was biased, but he claimed that he - unlike every judge on the planet - would be objective despite his having already formed his anti-Israel opinions.

This attitude was widely criticized by prominent lawyers, as are listed at UN Watch.

However, the sheer nerve that he shows here takes the cake. He finally decided to step down after Israel was ready to show evidence that he was paid by one of the sides that he was supposedly investigating. Instead of apologizing for hiding this very salient fact about his history when he was appointed to the commission, Schabas instead lashes out at those who exposed his utter contempt for the concept of impartiality.

Who just happen to be his "enemies."

The late-date move is a farce anyway. The commission has already written the majority if not the entire report by now. All of the evidence and testimony has already been slanted by Schabas' anti-Israel bias. If anything, his taking his name off of the commission might end up giving the slanted report a little more credibility after he has already poisoned it.

Here's one final question: If Schabas had planned from the beginning to be a new Richard Falk, and to use this UN commission to do everything possible to demonize Israel while paying lip service to the idea of fairness, would he have acted any differently than we have seen him act?
 

William Schabas' resignation letter reveals his (and UNHRC's) character (update)

 

William Schabas has linked to his letter of resignation from his blog.

His spin is interesting enough:
 
On 13 January 2015, the Jerusalem Post reported that attempts to discredit the Chair will be part of Israel’s campaign against the Commission of Inquiry on the Gaza Conflict. Two weeks later Israel made a formal complaint to the President of the Human Rights Council calling for my removal. On 2 February 2015, the Bureau of the Human Rights Council, which operates as its executive or standing committee between regular sessions, decided to examine the complaint and to request a legal opinion from United Nations Headquarters in New York.

The complaint concerns the fact that in October 2012, I prepared a legal opinion for the ‘Negotiations Affairs Department/Palestinian Negotiations Support Project’ of the Palestine Liberation Organisation. The legal opinion was to consider the consequences of a UN General Assembly resolution upgrading Palestine’s status to that of a non-member state on the declaration that was lodged by Palestine with the International Criminal Court in January 2009. It also addressed whether accession should include acceptance of the amendments to the Statute adopted at Kampala and how the territorial jurisdiction of the Court might be applied. These are matters on which, as one of the academic specialists on the subject of the Rome Statute, I have frequently expressed myself in lectures and in publications. A 7-page opinion was provided on 28 October 2012 and I received remuneration of $1,300, as previously agreed. I have done no other consultation and provided no other opinions for the State of Palestine, the Palestinian Liberation Organisation or any other related body.

The complaint about my brief consultancy, as I understand it, is not about the content, which is of a technical legal nature, but the implication that in some way I am henceforth beholden to the Palestine Liberation Organisation. Perhaps there is also the suggestion that I might tailor my opinions in one direction in order to generate more such consulting for remuneration. If I were indeed motivated by financial gain, it would be hard to explain why I would have accepted the position as Chair of the Commission of Inquiry, to which I have gladly devoted several months of work and for which there is no remuneration whatsoever.
 
THis is dripping with his condescending attitude. Schabas cannot even allow that being paid by one of the parties under investigation, no matter how small, is enough to disqualify any judge; instead he pretends that his using the commission as a platform to attack Israel is simply a humanitarian gesture on his part. 

His claim that his lack of remuneration proves that his motives are pure is as close to hogwash as one can imagine. His consultancy business would be expected to soar after a high profile UN commission of inquiry, and his fees for public speaking would easily go up by a factor of ten.

This part of the letter alone proves how little Schabas cares about truth and fairness. In a sane world, this in itself should be enough to ensure that his opinions are tainted forever more. Israel didn't discredit Schabas; he discredited himself.

But the most telling part of his letter actually isn't what it reveals about him, but what he unwittingly reveals about the UN Human Rights Council:
In early August 2014, when I was asked if I would accept a nomination to the Commission of Inquiry, I was not requested to provide any details on any of my past statements and other activities concerning Palestine and Israel. Of course, my views on Israel and Palestine as well as on many other issues were well known and very public. My curriculum vitae was readily available indicating public lectures and writings on the subject. My opinions were frequently aired on my blog. This work in defence of human rights appears to have made me a huge target for malicious attacks which, if Israel’s complaint is to be taken at face value, will only intensify in the weeks to come.
Can you imagine hiring anyone for any position where objectivity is a key component of the job, and not even asking a single question about such conflicts of interest?

On the contrary. Schabas' description of how he was chosen implies that the UNHRC chose him because of his well-known attitudes towards Israel, not in spite of them!

In other words, instead of his resignation letter showing that he is unfairly being attacked as he intends, it shows that the criticism of both him and the entire commission is more than justified. Schabas' letter proves not only his own unsuitability for the job; it shows UNHRC's bias that underlies the entire idea of a commission of inquiry to begin with.

Of course, the anti-Israel world will look at this differently. Schabas will still get his speaking gigs at CAIR dinners and at SOAS lectures. He will be a welcome guest on Al Jazeera and he will parlay this bit of supposedly pro-bono humanitarian work into a cash bonanza, now as a martyr that was mercilessly attacked by the Israel lobby. 

(h/t Gidon Shaviv)

UPDATE: Israel's letter that caused this chain of events:
 

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