Ilan Halimi, who was kidnapped in Paris, tortured, and murdered ten years ago because he was a Jew. The French Interior Minister apologized this weekend for the fact that his predecessors had failed “to call the act by its true name – anti-Semitic hate.”
[Notes below by Tom Gross]
POWER: “UN COMMITTEES HAVE CROSSED THE LINE”
I have previously been critical of Samantha Power in these dispatches for her unfairly hostile past positions towards Israel. (For example, here in this dispatch in 2008, when she was in the news for being the Obama advisor who called Hillary Clinton a “monster”.)
It is worth noting, therefore, that this past Monday (February 15), on a visit to Israel, she made very vocal remarks denouncing the UN for its anti-Israel bias. Power is, of course, now the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.
Remarks such as the ones below are rare not just from Power, but from any member of the Obama administration.
NOT NORTH KOREA
“As you all know, the UN Charter guarantees ‘the equal rights of nations large and small,’ and yet we have seen member states seek to use the UN Security Council, the General Assembly, and even the most arcane UN committees in ways that cross the line from legitimate criticisms of Israel’s policies to attempts to delegitimize the state of Israel itself.
“The only country in the world with a standing agenda item at the UN Human Rights Council is not North Korea, a totalitarian state that is currently holding an estimated 100,000 people in gulags; not Syria, which has gassed its people – lots of them. It is Israel.”
“BIAS HAS EXTENDED EVEN TO ISRAELI HUMANITARIAN GROUPS THAT SAVE LIVES”
Ambassador Power continued:
“Bias has extended well beyond Israel as a country, Israel as an idea – it even extends to Israeli organizations. Some of you may know the group ZAKA – an Israeli humanitarian group that helps save lives in disasters and ensures proper burial for the victims of those tragedies.
“ZAKA not only works here in Israel, but it responds to natural and manmade disasters worldwide, as it did in New York after 9/11, and in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake.
“Yet when ZAKA was nominated in 2013 for accreditation by the UN’s NGO committee – and this accreditation is what gives NGOs the right to participate in UN meetings, the right to assert their voices, the right to raise causes that really can matter in the world – when ZAKA was put forward it was denied approval.
“Five subsequent times the committee met, and five times member states blocked ZAKA – not because of the quality of its work, people weren’t that interested in the quality of its work, but simply because ZAKA is an Israeli organization.”
“ANY BIAS ACTUALLY ENDS UP UNDERMINING THE LEGITIMACY OF THE UN ITSELF”
She also said:
“We recognize that any bias at the UN, where one state gets treated differently – whether it’s against a nation, a religion, or a human being because of who he or she loves, another very common bias at the UN – any bias actually ends up undermining the legitimacy of the UN itself – the principles of equality and non-discrimination that it needs to stand for.”
In her speech, Power also condemned the worldwide growth in anti-Semitism, and said she would strive to make sure that the UN could become a partner with Jews and Israel in the fight against anti-Semitism, rather than a source of anti-Semitism.
You can read a full transcript of Power’s remarks here on the website of the U.S. State Department.
You can watch a video of the event here courtesy of the US embassy in Tel Aviv.
The video is over one hour long. Her remarks on international affairs, including the passages on Israel, start at about 16 minutes into the video. After her criticism of the UN for its bias against Israel, she goes on to praise the UN on other matters.
POWER NEEDS TO REPEAT HER REMARKS IN EUROPE AND THE MIDDLE EAST
Tom Gross adds:
While Samantha Power’s remarks are welcome, she made them before a group of Israeli schoolchildren at a conference at a school in the Tel Aviv suburb of Even Yehuda. Israelis already know what anti-Semitism is. Her remarks would be even more significant if she repeated them to audiences in the cities of Europe, the Middle East and elsewhere.
(The next dispatch on this list will include criticism of Power – author of a book before she went into politics called “A Problem From Hell: America and the Age of Genocide” – for her failure to influence President Obama to stop the genocide of Sunnis in Syria.)
OXFORD UNIVERSITY LABOUR LEADER RESIGNS, CITING ANTI-SEMITISM ON THE LEFT
Also on Monday, Alex Chalmers, the co-chair of Oxford University’s Labour Club (historically an important club at which persons such as Tony Blair began their career in politics) announced on his Facebook page that he was resigning, saying he could no longer stomach the anti-Semitism within the club’s own ranks.
Chalmers, who is not Jewish, and is a second year student at Oriel College, Oxford, said that much of the discussion about Israel at the club amounted to pure anti-Semitism.
He also cited the club’s endorsement of “Israel Apartheid Week,” which begins next week, an event that leads to the harassment of Jewish students and provides an opportunity for speakers to make anti-Semitic comments.
He also noted that in private conversations when Jews were not present, members of the Oxford University Labour club used terms such as “Zio” to refer to a Jew -- a term for Jews often used on neo-Nazis websites.
PARIS REMEMBERS ILAN HALIMI ON THE 10TH ANNIVERSARY OF HIS MURDER
At the same time Samantha Power was speaking in Israel, the municipality of Paris put on a free screening of a film about Ilan Halimi on the tenth anniversary of his brutal kidnap and murder.
The movie “24 Days: The True Story of the Ilan Halimi Affair” recounts the last four weeks of Halimi’s life. He was kidnapped and tortured to death by total strangers who said they wanted to kill a Jew.
Police found naked, handcuffed, gagged, hooded and starved, with severe burns, cuts and torture marks all over his body. He died en route to hospital. He was buried in Israel because French police feared further anti-Semitic attacks on his grave if he were buried in France. Since his death, many other Jews, including Jewish schoolchildren in Toulouse, have been murdered because they were Jewish.
France’s Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve, who attended Ilan Halimi’s memorial service this week, said: “Ten years after the murder we [the French authorities] still feel this collective regret of hesitating [at the time] to call the act by its true name – anti-Semitic hate.”
LE FIGARO AND THE OBSERVER: LET’S NOT MENTION HE WAS KILLED BECAUSE HE WAS JEWISH
My own article on Ilan Halimi, written a few days after his murder for the Canadian paper the National Post, is here.
As I wrote in the above article:
“And certain newspapers, such as Le Figaro in Paris and The Observer in London reported the case while scrupulously avoiding any mention of the fact that the victim was a Jew. (It is hard to imagine that The Observer, or its affiliate newspaper The Guardian, would report on an almost certain racial attack on a black or Asian Muslim without mentioning that it was a racial attack, or who the perpetrators and victim were.)”
-- Tom Gross
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