Saturday, May 20, 2017

Should the UN succumb to bullying?

By: Gulamhusein A,Abba

United Nations, which in its early days had only 51 member States, now has 193 members, having welcomed South Sudan as its 193rd member in July 2011.

These 193 nations are scattered all over the world. They have different and even opposing interests of their own as also different viewpoints and ideas on various important matters. Criticism, oppositions, rejections, counter proposals, opposing demands and sometimes even harsh language are to be expected.

However, all States accept the obligations contained in the United Nations Charter and, the judgment of the Organization.

In this setting, is it proper for any member State to bully United Nations into doing whatever it wants done? And if any State does so bully, should the UN meekly submit to such bullying and carry out the wishes of the bully?

It is hoped that the answers to both these questions will be a resounding, deafening NO.

And yet one of the member States did not only resort to such bullying but bragged about it!

It happened in the vast hall where AIPAC, an organization committed to strengthening, protecting and promoting the U.S.-Israel relationship, held its annual meeting in March

As usual, the hall was jam packed with vociferous supporters. The speakers included a long list of VIPs.

The lady in virgin white
 At one point a lady stepped onto to the stage. She was dressed immaculately in virgin white and walked confidently and with ease in her fashionable high heels. The house broke into loud applause. It was none other than the US Ambassador to the UN, Indian American Nikki Haley, the former Governor of South Carolina who, though she formerly was in support of flying the Confederate flag on the statehouse grounds, after the Charleston church shooting led calls for the removal of the Confederate flag from the State Capitol, and ultimately, in July 2015 signed a Bill to authorize removing the Confederate flag from the flagpole on the grounds of the South Carolina Capitol.

Her entrance was a sight to see. She put her hand to her heart again and again and made a gesture as though she was throwing it to the crowd, indicating her heart was with them!

Nikki Haley preparing to 'blow' her heart to the AIPAC crowd
Perhaps bearing in mind her Indian origin, she felt it necessary to explain her high heels. She said, “I wear heels. It is not for a fashion statement. It’s because if I see something wrong we are going to kick them every single time”

A rather strange way of conducting affairs at UN. More expected in Parliament houses of some countries we need not mention here but not in UN. And certainly not from the ambassador of the US.

So we now know that Nikki Haley is all fired up and ready to use her high heels to go on a kicking rampage in the UN. But what about the bullying part?

According to her she made it clear to the UN that the days of “Israel bashing” are over and that the US is not going to put up with it anymore. When they did not fully understand what she was saying and tried to put a Palestinian in one of the highest positions that had ever been given at the U.N., the US said NO and had him booted out. But, according to Nikki, the UN still did not get it and “tested” the US again.

Here, according to Nikki Haley, is what the UN did. “….a ridiculous report, the Falk Report, came out. I don't know who the guy is or what he's about, but he's got serious problems. Goes and compares Israel to an apartheid state. So the first thing we do is we call the secretary general and say, this is absolutely ridiculous. You have to pull it. The secretary general immediately pulled the report. And then the director has now resigned”

The Palestinian who Nikki Haley claimed credit for blocking is the former PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. The position he was to be appointed was to the UN mission in Libya. He is known for his moderate pragmatism and is highly regarded in American and also Israeli circles. Haley did not dispute his qualifications. Explaining her blocking of him she said, “That doesn't mean he wasn't a nice man. That doesn't mean he wasn't good to America”.

Then why did she block him? “What it means is, until the Palestinian Authority comes to the table, until the U.N. responds the way they're supposed to, there are no freebees for the Palestinian Authority anymore”. Obviously she wants the UN to behave as the US wants it to. And what freebees was she referring to? Palestinians have received none.

Salam Fayyad the man Nikki Haley claims to have blocked
Her blocking of Salam Fayyad met with criticism even from her peers. Former US ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro said “Stunningly dumb”. And former UN ambassador Susan Rice wrote “Fayyad is first rate. The UN would be lucky to have him in Libya or anywhere else.”

And the “guy” whom she said she did not know who he was is none other than world renowned Richard Falk. He is the former United Nations Human Rights Rapporteur in the Occupied Territories and knows more about what is happening on the ground in the West Bank, Jerusalem, Gaza and Israel than Nikki Haley will ever come to know. He is also a member of the TRANSCEND Network, Research Fellow, Orfalea Center of Global and International Studies, an international relations scholar, Albert G. Milbank Professor of International Law and Practice Emeritus at Princeton University. He is author or editor of some 60 books and hundreds of articles on international human rights law, Middle East politics, environmental justice, and other fields concerning human rights and international relations.

Nikki Haley may have thought she was being cute by referring to him as some “guy” whom she did not know. But she only displayed her abysmal ignorance.

Richard Falk
The report she blocked was commissioned by the UN Economic and Social Commission for West Asia (ESCWA). Its purpose was to examine the argument for regarding Israel as an ‘apartheid state’ with respect to the whole of the Palestinian people. Titled ‘Israeli Practices towards the Palestinian People and the Question of Apartheid’, it was coauthored by Richard Falk and Virginia Tilley and ran into 74 pages, crammed with well researched facts and views. It was further edited by Mr. Damien Simonis of ESCWA, Conference Services Section.

The pressure put on the UN by Nikki Haley on behalf of the U.S. had three disastrous consequences.

First, most regrettably, it made the Secretary General cave in to the demands made on him by the US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley and formally request ESCWA to withdraw the Falk-Tilley report.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres 
 Second, it led to the resignation of ESCWA Executive Secretary Rima Khalaf. The formal request by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres that ESCWA withdraw the publication of the scholarly report that found Israel guilty of apartheid put her in a dilemma. She could not possibly withdraw, in good conscience, the said report.

AESCWA Executive Secretary Rima Khalaf.
At the same time, she was acutely aware that, working in the UN Secretariat, she was subject to his authority. So she adopted the only solution that was available. She resigned even though her term was to expire in just two weeks more. She wrote in her letter of resignation: “my resignation is therefore not intended for political pressure. It is simply because I feel it my duty towards the people we serve, towards the UN and towards myself, not to withdraw an honest testimony about an ongoing crime that is at the root of so much human suffering. Therefore, I hereby submit to you my resignation from the United Nations”.

Third, it ultimately led to the withdrawal of this important report.

A triple win for Haley. UN members are, according to her, now afraid to talk to her about Resolution 2334, Salaam Fayyad’s appointment has been blocked and the Falk-Tilley report has been taken off the website of the UN.

The speech was a great success for Nikki Haley. The audience brought down the rafters with their applause again and again. Her speech was studiously crafted to elicit just that effect. To win the hearts of the AIPAC crowd, get name recognition with them, get their approval and support, all with an eye for her future career

It was good for the AIPAC crowd. It was good for Nikki Haley. But the question is, is it good for truth and justice and fight against oppression? Is it good for the long suffering Palestinians or for USA or for Israel itself?

In an earlier part of her speech, Nikki Haley said, “….leading isn't saying and doing things when it's comfortable. Leading is saying and doing things when it's not comfortable”

She needs to remind herself again and again of that and act according to it.

I am sure her Sikh parents would be prouder of her if she did that than even if she one day became the President of USA.

God save America.

Related videos:
Powerful resignation letter by UN’s Rima Khalaf about removal of UN apartheid report

Open Letter to UN Ambassador Nikki Haley on Our Report on Apartheid in Israel

UN Sponsored Report on Israel’s Responsibility for Apartheid in relation to the Palestinian People 03.9.17

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