Thursday, November 10, 2011

Wanted: Quality Control for the UN Concept of Human Rights

The UNHRC's bias against Israel necessitates the establishment Quality Control methods in the UN

By: Susan Maishlish

Since the end of the Second World War and the recognition of the shocking atrocities of the Holocaust, the United Nations has avowed to provide a valuable and necessary mechanism to reflect upon, and through reason, conscience and equity, correctly identify and remedy human rights abuses. Article 1 of the Purposes of the United Nations stresses the maintenance of international peace and security, the effective prevention and removal of threats to peace, the suppression of acts of aggression and breaches of peace, and by adherence to standards of justice and international law, assistance in the adjustment or settlement of international disputes that could lead to a breach of the peace.

With such a clear declaration of purpose, it is reasonable to require that organizations benefiting from the collective goodwill towards the concept of human rights adhere to promoting the above, and be held accountable when found to abuse their power. It is necessary to learn from past errors to avoid future deterioration. Just as we have learned valuable lessons from the banking crisis, so too must quality control and auditing tools be formulated to regulate the actions of those we entrust with our collective security.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Can Certain Price-Tag Incidents be Considered Legitimate?

The majority of "price-tag" incidents in Israel are reprehensible, but some non-violent
instances contain legitimate forms of political expression by Israel's Right.

By: Tobias Finkelstein

Due to recent developments regarding the settlement activity and the Gilad Shalit exchange, Israel has witnessed a wave of “price tag” incidents through which right wing activists have engaged in vigilante reprisals for government action they perceive as illegitimate. The majority of the Israeli public and media coverage accurately condemned this activity as an affront to government authority. These “price tag” activities are acts out against either Arab property or what the activists see as traitorous Israeli policy. Recent price tag operations have included sabotaging Palestinian farm-land, vandalizing Arab gravesites, and attacking IDF units in the West Bank. The actions are combined with protests and graffiti reading “price-tag” in Hebrew, and the goal of these price tag operations is to engage the military and political echelons.

Many of these despicable acts are truly divisive and an affront to Israel as a democracy. However, one incident stood out to me as an exception. Last month, a price tag operation left the Yitzhak Rabin Memorial covered in paint with the words “price-tag” in Hebrew. Yitzhak Rabin, the decorated military officer who became a beloved Prime Minister, was regarded as a maverick because of his efforts to negotiate peace agreements with Yassir Arafat, and was ultimately murdered by a right-wing activist. The site of his murder in Tel Aviv has been developed into a beautiful and well-known memorial, and is a frequent destination for political protest and public discourse. While price-tag operations are generally condoned by extreme right and left wing elements in Israeli society, the tagging of Rabin’s grave could actually be considered somewhat legitimate - however asinine and deplorable -  sharing an unusual political resonance with public protest in different countries around the world.