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ISRAEL/PALESTINE CRISIS LETTER

The Gaza assault is a textbook case of genocide – top official tells UN in resignation letter

The Gaza assault is a textbook case of genocide – top official tells UN in resignation letter
A man carries a young wounded girl after an Israeli airstrike in Gaza, 21 October 2023. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Mohammed Saber)

As a human rights lawyer with more than three decades of experience in the field, I know well that the concept of genocide has often been subject to political abuse. But the current wholesale slaughter of the Palestinian people, rooted in an ethno-nationalist settler colonial ideology, in continuation of decades of their systematic persecution and purging, based entirely upon their status as Arabs, and coupled with explicit statements of intent by leaders in the Israeli government and military, leaves no room for doubt or debate, Craig Mokhiber writes in his resignation letter to the UN. Read his full letter below

Dear High Commissioner,

This will be my last official communication to you as Director of the New York Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

I write at a moment of great anguish for the world, including for many of our colleagues. Once again, we are seeing a genocide unfolding before our eyes, and the organisation that we serve appears powerless to stop it. As someone who has investigated human rights in Palestine since the 1980s, lived in Gaza as a UN human rights adviser in the 1990s and carried out several human rights missions to the country before and since, this is deeply personal to me.

I also worked in these halls through the genocides against the Tutsis, Bosnian Muslims, the Yazidi, and the Rohingya. In each case, when the dust settled on the horrors that had been perpetrated against defenceless civilian populations, it became painfully clear that we had failed in our duty to meet the imperatives of prevention of mass atrocities, of protection of the vulnerable, and of accountability for perpetrators. And so it has been with successive waves of murder and persecution against the Palestinians throughout the entire life of the UN.

High Commissioner, we are failing again.

As a human rights lawyer with more than three decades of experience in the field, I know well that the concept of genocide has often been subject to political abuse. But the current wholesale slaughter of the Palestinian people, rooted in an ethno-nationalist settler colonial ideology, in continuation of decades of their systematic persecution and purging, based entirely upon their status as Arabs, and coupled with explicit statements of intent by leaders in the Israeli government and military, leaves no room for doubt or debate.

In Gaza, civilian homes, schools, churches, mosques, and medical institutions are wantonly attacked as thousands of civilians are massacred. In the West Bank, including occupied Jerusalem, homes are seized and reassigned based entirely on race, and violent settler pogroms are accompanied by Israeli military units. Across the land, apartheid rules.

This is a textbook case of genocide. The European, ethno-nationalist, settler colonial project in Palestine has entered its final phase, toward the expedited destruction of the last remnants of indigenous Palestinian life in Palestine. What’s more, the governments of the United States, the United Kingdom, and much of Europe, are wholly complicit in the horrific assault. Not only are these governments refusing to meet their treaty obligations “to ensure respect” for the Geneva Conventions, but they are in fact actively arming the assault, providing economic and intelligence support, and giving political and diplomatic cover for Israel’s atrocities.

In concert with this, Western corporate media, increasingly captured and state-adjacent, are in open breach of Article 20 of the ICCPR [International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights], continuously dehumanising Palestinians to facilitate the genocide, and broadcasting propaganda for war and advocacy of national, racial, or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility, and violence.

US-based social media companies are suppressing the voices of human rights defenders while amplifying pro-Israel propaganda. Israel-lobby online trolls and Gongos [government-sponsored non-governmental organisations] are harassing and smearing human rights defenders, and Western universities and employers are collaborating with them to punish those who dare to speak out against the atrocities. In the wake of this genocide, there must be an accounting for these actors as well, just as there was for Radio Milles Collines in Rwanda.

Decades of distraction

In such circumstances, the demands on our organisation for principled and effective action are greater than ever. But we have not met the challenge. The protective enforcement power, Security Council, has again been blocked by US intransigence, the SG [secretary-general] is under assault for the mildest of protestations, and our human rights mechanisms are under sustained, slanderous attack by an organised, online impunity network.

Decades of distraction by the illusory and largely disingenuous promises of Oslo have diverted the organisation from its core duty to defend international law, international human rights, and the charter itself. The mantra of the “two-state solution” has become an open joke in the corridors of the UN, both for its utter impossibility in fact, and for its total failure to account for the inalienable human rights of the Palestinian people.

The so-called Quartet has become nothing more than a fig leaf for inaction and for subservience to a brutal status quo. The (US-scripted) deference to “agreements between the parties themselves” (in place of international law) was always a transparent sleight-of-hand, designed to reinforce the power of Israel over the rights of the occupied and dispossessed Palestinians.

High Commissioner, I came to this organisation first in the 1980s, because I found in it a principled, norm-based institution that was squarely on the side of human rights, including in cases where the powerful US, UK, and Europe were not on our side. While my own government, its subsidiarity institutions, and much of the US media were still supporting or justifying South African apartheid, Israeli oppression, and Central American death squads, the UN was standing up for the oppressed peoples of those lands. We had international law on our side. We had human rights on our side. We had principle on our side. Our authority was rooted in our integrity. But no more.

In recent decades, key parts of the UN have surrendered to the power of the US, and to fear of the Israel Lobby, to abandon these principles, and to retreat from international law itself. We have lost a lot in this abandonment, not least our own global credibility. But the Palestinian people have sustained the biggest losses as a result of our failures. It is a stunning historic irony that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights [UDHR]  was adopted in the same year that the Nakba was perpetrated against the Palestinian people.

As we commemorate the 75th anniversary of the UDHR, we would do well to abandon the old cliché that the UDHR was born out of the atrocities that preceded it, and to admit that it was born alongside one of the most atrocious genocides of the 20th century, that of the destruction of Palestine.

In some sense, the framers were promising human rights to everyone, except the Palestinian people. And let us remember as well, that the UN itself carries the original sin of helping to facilitate the dispossession of the Palestinian people by ratifying the European settler colonial project that seized Palestinian land and turned it over to the colonists. We have much for which to atone.

‘Not in our name’

But the path to atonement is clear. We have much to learn from the principled stance taken in cities around the world in recent days, as masses of people stand up against the genocide, even at risk of beatings and arrest. Palestinians and their allies, human rights defenders of every stripe, Christian and Muslim organisations, and progressive Jewish voices saying “not in our name”, are all leading the way. All we have to do is to follow them.

Yesterday [Monday], just a few blocks from here, New York’s Grand Central Station was completely taken over by thousands of Jewish human rights defenders standing in solidarity with the Palestinian people and demanding an end to Israeli tyranny (many risking arrest, in the process). In doing so, they stripped away in an instant the Israeli hasbara propaganda point (and old anti-Semitic trope) that Israel somehow represents the Jewish people. It does not. And, as such, Israel is solely responsible for its crimes.

On this point, it bears repeating, in spite of Israel lobby smears to the contrary, that criticism of Israel’s human rights violations is not anti-Semitic, any more than criticism of Saudi violations is Islamophobic, criticism of Myanmar violations is anti-Buddhist, or criticism of Indian violations is anti-Hindu. When they seek to silence us with smears, we must raise our voice, not lower it. I trust you will agree, High Commissioner, that this is what speaking truth to power is all about.

But I also find hope in those parts of the UN that have refused to compromise the organisation’s human rights principles in spite of enormous pressures to do so. Our independent special rapporteurs, commissions of inquiry, and treaty body experts, alongside most of our staff, have continued to stand up for the human rights of the Palestinian people, even as other parts of the UN (even at the highest levels) have shamefully bowed their heads to power.

As the custodians of the human rights norms and standards, OHCHR has a particular duty to defend those standards. Our job, I believe, is to make our voice heard, from the secretary-general to the newest UN recruit, and horizontally across the wider UN system, insisting that the human rights of the Palestinian people are not up for debate, negotiation, or compromise anywhere under the blue flag.

What, then, would a UN-norm-based position look like? For what would we work if we were true to our rhetorical admonitions about human rights and equality for all, accountability for perpetrators, redress for victims, protection of the vulnerable, and empowerment for rights-holders, all under the rule of law?

10 essential points

The answer, I believe, is simple — if we have the clarity to see beyond the propagandistic smokescreens that distort the vision of justice to which we are sworn, the courage to abandon fear and deference to powerful states, and the will to truly take up the banner of human rights and peace. To be sure, this is a long-term project and a steep climb. But we must begin now or surrender to unspeakable horror. I see 10 essential points:

  1. Legitimate action: First, we in the UN must abandon the failed (and largely disingenuous) Oslo paradigm, its illusory two-state solution, its impotent and complicit Quartet, and its subjugation of international law to the dictates of presumed political expediency. Our positions must be unapologetically based on international human rights and international law.
  2. Clarity of vision: We must stop the pretence that this is simply a conflict over land or religion between two warring parties and admit the reality of the situation in which a disproportionately powerful state is colonising, persecuting, and dispossessing an indigenous population on the basis of their ethnicity.
  3. One state based on human rights: We must support the establishment of a single, democratic, secular state in all of historic Palestine, with equal rights for Christians, Muslims, and Jews, and, therefore, the dismantling of the deeply racist, settler-colonial project and an end to apartheid across the land.
  4. Fighting apartheid: We must redirect all UN efforts and resources to the struggle against apartheid, just as we did for South Africa in the 1970s, 80s, and early 90s.
  5. Return and compensation: We must reaffirm and insist on the right to return and full compensation for all Palestinians and their families currently living in the occupied territories, in Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, and in the diaspora across the globe.
  6. Truth and justice: We must call for a transitional justice process, making full use of decades of accumulated UN investigations, enquiries, and reports, to document the truth, and to ensure accountability for all perpetrators, redress for all victims, and remedies for documented injustices.
  7. Protection: We must press for the deployment of a well-resourced and strongly mandated UN protection force with a sustained mandate to protect civilians from the river to the sea.
  8. Disarmament: We must advocate for the removal and destruction of Israel’s massive stockpiles of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons, lest the conflict lead to the total destruction of the region and, possibly, beyond.
  9. Mediation: We must recognise that the US and other Western powers are in fact not credible mediators, but rather actual parties to the conflict who are complicit with Israel in the violation of Palestinian rights, and we must engage them as such.
  10. Solidarity: We must open our doors (and the doors of the SG) wide to the legions of Palestinian, Israeli, Jewish, Muslim, and Christian human rights defenders who are standing in solidarity with the people of Palestine and their human rights and stop the unconstrained flow of Israel lobbyists to the offices of UN leaders, where they advocate for continued war, persecution, apartheid and impunity, and smear our human rights defenders for their principled defence of Palestinian rights.

This will take years to achieve, and Western powers will fight us every step of the way, so we must be steadfast. In the immediate term, we must work for an immediate ceasefire and an end to the longstanding siege on Gaza, stand up against the ethnic cleansing of Gaza, Jerusalem and the West Bank (and elsewhere), document the genocidal assault in Gaza, help to bring massive humanitarian aid and reconstruction to the Palestinians, take care of our traumatised colleagues and their families, and fight like hell for a principled approach in the UN’s political offices.

The UN’s failure in Palestine thus far is not a reason for us to withdraw. Rather it should give us the courage to abandon the failed paradigm of the past, and fully embrace a more principled course. Let us, as OHCHR, boldly and proudly join the anti-apartheid movement that is growing all around the world, adding our logo to the banner of equality and human rights for the Palestinian people. The world is watching. We will all be accountable for where we stood at this crucial moment in history. Let us stand on the side of justice.

I thank you, High Commissioner, Volker, for hearing this final appeal from my desk. I will leave the office in a few days for the last time, after more than three decades of service. But please do not hesitate to reach out if I can be of assistance in the future. DM 

Craig Mokhiber is a director in the New York Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

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Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Ben Harper says:

    Utter hogwash

    • Peter G says:

      wow great riposte, you certainly addressed each of his points in detail and provided powerful counterarguments.

      • Ben Harper says:

        Doesn’t need anything more

      • Ben Harper says:

        Not one single point of his “10 essential points” even mentions Hamas, Hezbollah or Islamic Jihad. Not one. Everything is on Israel while the perpetrators of violence and terrorists acts don’t get a mention

        • Donavan-Ross Costaras says:

          Are you implying that there were no issues in the Middle East prior to 1985?

          • Mordechai Yitzchak says:

            Apparently there was no history before 1948

          • Donavan-Ross Costaras says:

            Apologies, I should have been clearer. I’m responding to a comment arguing that the author has not acknowledged recent history. Ben Harper writes “…even mentions Hamas, Hezbollah or Islamic Jihad…”. I think I understand the point he’s making and it makes sense. However, the same point, with as much sense, can be made from the perspective of an earlier time. To illustrate, I shifted the date to 1985 (the year the earliest of those organisations was formally founded according to Wikipedia, the actual date is not important to my point) and asked the question; if those organisations are a an ‘essential point’, what can be said about the period before they existed?

            I believe you’re (Mordechai Yitzchak) making the case that 1948 is not a useful date to limit ourselves to and so I would ask, what date would you use as for practical purposes we can’t go all the way back to the beginning of existence?

  • Dan Bowskill says:

    Totally one sided and biased. This person is not capabile of understanding the true reasons for the awful conflict.

  • virginia crawford says:

    Everything Mr Mokhiber says is true: no can say that they didn’t know: claims made by Germans under Nazi rule and by white South Africans under apartheid. We are witnessing an atrocity and the western powers and the UN have lost all credibility vis- a – vis human rights or democracy. I salute Jewish people who put paid to the lie that Zionism represents all Jews, while I feel for people born in Israel do not support this slaughter. Zealotry and hatred blind people to the facts, nevertheless, they remain facts.

    • Enver Klein says:

      Virginia, you will get lots of negativity from Zionist supporters, just remember, there are none so blind as those who refuse to see!!! It fails me to understand how this can be deemed to be biased, coming from an American citizen who has worked for the UN for 3 decades.

    • Enver Klein says:

      Virginia, if you haven’t, as yet, please listen to Roger Waters of the group, Pink Floyd. He is being lambasted and called anti-semitic and biased for telling the truth. Zionists and their supporters have spent a lot of effort trying to discredit him, but he is still revered in the music industry.

  • Agf Agf says:

    Good riddance. The UN is well rid of him.

    • Peter G says:

      ah yes, why would they possibly want a human rights lawyer who speaks truth to power. much better to hide in their plush New York offices and enjoy the spoils of modern colonialism

  • Sydney Kaye says:

    And yet he didn’t resign because of the other events he mentioned. But then again there were no Jews involved in those.
    I see Mrs Crawford Browne below has jumped in to ally herself with this blatent anti semitism (excepting the so called good non-Zionist Jews of course)

    • Peter G says:

      hilarious that you copy the exact playbook being criticized here. valid criticism of Israel is not anti-semitic.

      • Enver Klein says:

        When I stated that the Zionists controlled the narrative, Marc36 proved my point by putting the Zionist narrative of what antisemitic is, i.e., in a nutshell, anyone who is anti-Zionism or anti a Zionist state. Note this Zionist narrative ignores a historical fact that all those who spoke a semitic language, were semites, and that included israelis and arabs.

    • Bennie Morani says:

      Nothing anti-semitic – just criticism of Israel.

  • Beezy Bailey says:

    This is so tragic. And made worse by people taking sides . We have forgotten our humanity. To the defenders of Israel I say this : in the unrelenting war against Hamas and the blatant war crimes being committed, for every Hamas terrorist that is killed,ten more potential Hamas operatives are created. Half the population of Gaza are under 20 years old. That is a future population of around one million people who are going to hate with all their hearts what Israel has done . So if a person supports Israel then they should be doing all in their power to stop the relentless bombing and allow essential humanitarian aid into Gaza urgently. I know it’s a complicated situation. But killing a child every ten minutes is not !

    • Ben Harper says:

      Don’t you mean the unrelenting attacks from Hamas and their stated aim to wipe Israel and Jews off the face of the earth?

      • Beezy Bailey says:

        No I mean the relentless response to the barbaric attacks by Hamas , by a superior IDF military ,headed by a right wing racist bigot who is giving Jews a bad name . So sad that you fail to see the human rights violations and war crimes being committed right now . Not in our name ! Especially given the tragic history of the Jewish people. Where is the humanity!? This is not about two equal sides in a senseless war.

        • Mordechai Yitzchak says:

          Beezy how fortunate for you to belong to a people that accepts diversity of opinion, that will not issue a fatwa on you for disagreeing, and for having the space to say not in “our name” when you should rather be saying “my name”. Unfortunately, we know much about suffering and tragedy as you say. Fortunately, this time we have our own country, and our own (very powerful) army. Whether you choose to believe and accept it or not, we are the people who gave birth to the concept of “humanity” and continue to be its custodians. There comes a time when good must eradicate evil – which are not two equal sides.

  • Lawrence Sisitka says:

    Wow, I can see that this extraordinary, sane, balanced and compassionate letter, from someone with more experience than all of us put together has stimulated a truly rabid and ill-informed response from the usual suspects. This shows once again that with such determined blindness and deafness displayed by the fanatics on both sides, there is little if any hope of any decent resolution, and the horrors of the past will continue until, as the writer suggests, there will no longer be a Palestine or Palestinians to worry about. Although clearly there are many who do not worry, or indeed care about them anyway. I am constantly shocked by the vehement ignorance displayed by many of the commentators on this platform; something I had never expected in a DM space. I have often thought it better just to leave the platform, but perhaps it is better to stay in support of real human rights and of the relatively few commentators who are able to think outside their narrow experiential and prejudicial frames and embrace the world in a caring and compassionate way. Maybe the first move in this direction is for the more bigoted amongst us to just try to step into the shoes of those they so freely condemn and imagine their lives, their pain. Ok, that may be a step too far for some, but give it a try.

  • Denise Smit says:

    Totally biased and one sided. Hamas a terrorist organization of course is completely innocent. Israel have had to rely on an iron dome to protect the citizens for years from the constant terrorism attacks from Hamas, How can you paint such a one sided picture? The Jews have just as much rights as the Arabs or Palestinians on their land of origin. What about the killing of Jews during centuries around the world in countries like Russia, Germany and Eastern Europe? That was true and cruel genocide. What is happening in Gaza is going after the Hamas terrorists who are using their population to hide even in hospitals or public places. All news out of Gaza comes from Hamas. If you will not believe the terrorist Islamic Jihad how can you believe the news from Hamas after what they did on 7 October and still with 230 Jewish hostages in their hands. Denise Smit

    • Sibusiso Mchunu says:

      Denise Smit, the killing of Jews during centuries around the world cannot be seen as a sound justification for the genocidal actions of the Israeli government.
      Secondly the notion of the Jews having just as much rights to the land as the Arabs is a tenuous one at best.

      The news is not solely from Hamas (a creation of Israel as per the words of Avner Cohen) as you have claimed but from journalists on the ground as well in Gaza (not international ones as Israel refuses to allow them in).

      And if repute is a chief concern of yours Ma’am, I would heed with caution the words of Israel and the IDF which have repeatedly been caught in a lie (see for instance the case of Shireen Abu Aklah)

      The writer sought to bring attention to the gross injustice faced by Palestinians which are often ignored in media.

      As someone who reads the daily Maverick I take it that on most issues you are well-informed but your comment-and not the writer’s well-written and thoughtful article- is ‘one-sided’ and ‘biased’.

      • Amanda Dinan says:

        Well spoke Sibusiso Mchunu

      • Ben Harper says:

        It’s not a genocide stop with the fake narrative, it’s a justifiable and appropriate response

      • Mordechai Yitzchak says:

        Although I do not agree with the views you express Sibusiso Mchunu, I respect that you are entitled to your opinion and the manner in which you go about presenting. You don’t resort to hyperbole, replete with the usual buzzwords. However, I take issue with characterising and describing Israeli “genocidal actions”. This description, as well as main body of this article (and this person’s reason for resigning), is because of this so-called “genocide”. Without derogating from this very important word (and I am Jewish, therefore from a people who, within living memory, has lost 6 million of my people to the largest genocide the world has ever seen by a long way), what exactly is it? How is it described in popular belief? I am asking this because I believe it is a word used without thought to blithely describe any Israeli / IDF action, whatever that may be. Doesn’t every conflict involve an “us” and “them” / “our side” and “their side”? Is every loss of “them” / Their side” = “genocide”? What number of dead defines “genocide”? Did the Allies, by going to war with and killing Nazis in WWII also perform a “genocide” on German people? Is it because one side is “good” and the other is “evil”? If so – who/what determines this? Addressed to you Sibusiso. As I say – I can expect an answer without hyperbole.

  • Melanie Dass Moodley says:

    This article is filled with compassion by an individual who has clearly witnessed much atrocities throughout his career as a UN Human Rights Director.
    What is it about us that reads it as ‘hogwash’ or pro-Hamas, or anti-Semitic? I read none of that.
    I thank him for his courage to speak out against a UN that has become so tragically compromised and ineffectual in fulfilling its mandate – peace for all humanity.

    • Ben Harper says:

      All of it and the failure to acknowledge that none of this would have happened if it weren’t for Hamas. And stop with the fake “Palestinian” narrative, this is about Hamas

      • Enver Klein says:

        Then why are so many civilians targeted? 50+ civilians killed to kill one Hamas commander? Warfare technology is so advanced these days. If the US, who supplies the Zionists with their arms, in a convoy, can take out one car carrying an Iranian Army official, the IDF can’t take out Hamas without killing thousands of civilians?

      • Bennie Morani says:

        Are the reports of thousands of dead Palestinians fake? Or are the Palestinians themselves fake?
        By the way, none of this would have happened if the major western powers had not created the state of Israel after the 2nd world war. A monumental historical error. But the world must recognise that this is now the home of Israeli citizens, and they can’t be chased into the sea, or whatever some extremists on the Palestinian side may wish. Same as your fake Palestinians that can’t be wished away.

        • Donavan-Ross Costaras says:

          I’m glad a few people can hold in their minds something more complex than propaganda (regardless of the side it’s from).

          Ben Harper’s comment is about as ahistorical as “Jews have nothing to fear”.

          • Mordechai Yitzchak says:

            Explain further? Are you implying that Jews should be fearful?

          • Donavan-Ross Costaras says:

            No, Ben Harper wrote “…failure to acknowledge that none of this would have happened if it weren’t for Hamas…”, I’m arguing that that sentiment is ahistorical (as in: “lacking historical perspective or context”). The second part is an admittedly flippant expression of how ahistorical I think it is.

  • Brian Kritzinger says:

    As a point of historical fact, the term “Nakba” was coined by Constantin Zureiq in 1948 in reference to the failure of the Palestinian people to seize the opportunity for statehood and self-determination, and instead engage in conflict to undermine the newly formed state of Israel. Arab commentators have since used the term as a hold-all for the (largely self-inflicted) disenfranchisement of the Palestinian people following the Israeli War of Independence in 1948 and the 6-Day-War in 1967.

    His use of the term in the latter context, and his 3rd “Essential Point” that effectively calls for the dissolution of the Israeli state betrays his one-sided view of the situation. Nevertheless, the foundation of his (and many others) argument that Israel is engaging in a western sanctioned atrocity against Gaza is not without merit. The collective punishment of two million people in Gaza for the heinous actions of Hammas cannot be justified or rationalised by any clear eyed assessment; in the same way that the destruction of Afghanistan and Iraq following the 9/11 attacks was a fiendish and predatory overreach fueled by America’s bruised ego. And the UN is complicit in perpetrating one of the worst humanitarian crises in recent times by not upholding the UN Charter and tacitly approving the Israel’s flagrant violations of international law and the Geneva Conventions.

    • Hidden Name says:

      Curious that everyone wants to harp on the beating the Palestinians are currently taking while ignoring (with great presence of mind) the undisputed facts of the Hamas terrorist attack on Israeli citizens. More than 1000 people killed in 1 day by a group of ravening murderers. ANY country would consider that an act of war, and respond rather strongly – to put it mildly. At best you are being disingenuous with your responses, but its more likely your politics are inducing a severe bout of cognitive dissonance.

    • Ben Harper says:

      And that wasn’t the first time, in fact every time a wo state solution has been put on the table, going back to as early as 1917 the response has been to attack the Jewish people. Another inconvenient truth the woke love to ignore

      • Enver Klein says:

        You truly believe that Netanyahu and the Zionists want a 2-state solution??? Who are you kidding? On more than one occasion Netanyahu has publicly stated that they need a strong Hamas. And, if you don’t why, it’s because he wants the “terrorists” to attack in order to give a reason to commit the genocide.

  • Enver Klein says:

    This letter states almost everything that needs to be stated, and Craig Mokhiber’s name will go on Marc36’s blackboard for being anti-semitic. Those who side with the oppressor will be judged with the oppressor!

  • Allan Wolman Wolman says:

    Where was that UN official only 3 years ago when Idlib and Aleppo accounted for nearly half a million Syrians were butchered by their own president. The tragic toll in Gaza was half a days work for Syria’s president Assad??

  • Allan Wolman Wolman says:

    The primary targets by Syria’s Assad in Aleppo and Idlib were schools and hospitals

  • JP K says:

    Sadly, none of this is new. The Oslo accords are decades old and have gotten us nowhere. But is that a surprise? The US is not impartial (apart from US veto and military support of Israel, I mean who doesn’t, for example remember Bibi’s well-received address to the US congress) and the idea that it could mediate is obviously not one to be taken seriously though somehow that is the expectation. The expansion of Israeli settlements and carving up of Palestine into unviable cantons creates a situation in which it has become apparent that the two state solution cannot work (possibly it was never the intention that it should…)

    And so when Mr Mokhiber spells out his 10 essential but obvious points to the high commissioner, I wonder what has the UN been up to all these decades? What has the international community been up to all these decades?

  • John P says:

    I do not see a single comment here or on any of the other DM articles that is in favor of Hamas. They are a terrorist organisation and committed a horrible and unjustifiable attack on civilians in Israel.

    That however does not justify the indiscriminate killing of civilians and destruction of residential property in Gaza by the IDF. Israel and it’s allies have the intelligence and the military capability to respond in a far more selective and targeted manner should they so desire.

  • David Crossley says:

    Whilst I admit that I am horrified by the death of so many civilians, many of them children, what is Israel supposed to do when they are continuously bombed by rockets fired from Gaza and under threat all the time from a fanatical Hamas Government?
    I have said it before and I say it again – Palestinians have to ditch Hamas, who are bent on the destruction of the Israeli State and until a moderate Palestinian government replaces Hamas, Israel has no option but to protect its sovereignty, however extreme this may be.
    Jews have been persecuted for centuries by not only Palestinians but by most of the western world.
    They have been scattered to the four corners of the world and now that they have a place of their own, they will defend it by all means – they have nowhere else to go.
    Strange that it would appear that none of the Middle Eastern states such as Saudi Arabia don’t want to welcome Palestinians into their country as refugees.
    I wonder why?

  • The article by C Mokhiber should be discarded. The very fact that he repeatedly uses the words apartheid and colonialism when he refers to Israel indicates he is biased and ignorant about the country. But then many of your articles have had the same tone and indicate to me and all Jewish people that there is no understanding what Israel means to us, what Israel’s history reveals and how vital it is to us that
    our state stays strong and victorious in the face of threats of annihalation.

  • Mordechai Yitzchak says:

    Another view, from Baron Jonathan Sacks (Former Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth, Professor at New York University, Professor at Yeshiva University, Professor of Law and Ethics at King’s College and also a Senior Fellow to the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights (in a speech given on 27 Sept 2016 in the House of Lords:

    “Not liking Jews is not antisemitism. We all have people we don’t like. That’s OK; that’s human; it isn’t dangerous. Criticizing Israel is not antisemitism. I was recently talking to some schoolchildren and they asked me: is criticizing Israel antisemitism? I said No and I explained the difference. I asked them: Do you believe you have a right to criticize the British government? They all put up their hands. Then I asked, Which of you believes that Britain has no right to exist? No one put up their hands. Now you know the difference, I said, and they all did. Antisemitism means denying the right of Jews to exist collectively as Jews with the same rights as everyone else. It takes different forms in different ages. In the Middle Ages, Jews were hated because of their religion. In the nineteenth and early twentieth century they were hated because of their race. Today they are hated because of their nation state, the state of Israel. It takes different forms but it remains the same thing: the view that Jews have no right to exist as free and equal human beings.”

    • Bennie Morani says:

      The problem with Israel’s existence is that it is predicated on the historic dispossession of Palestinians from their homes, and the continued hostile policies against them, including further dispossession. A truly just solution would mean a fundamental reconfiguration of the political identity of Israel and Palestine, with a state which offers a home to Jews and Muslims alike, with no discrimination. And no resorting to religion or history to justify exclusion or discrimination of any kind. And such a reconfiguration would bring about the best chance of peace in the region.

      • Mordechai Yitzchak says:

        Bennie – although there is factually much I would disagree with in your response regarding Israel’s existence and treatment of Palestinians (almost all of it actually) – let’s put that all aside and hypothetically accept your proposed solution. I can tell you that Israel and the Jewish people would take that in a heartbeat. But unfortunately, as the saying goes “If the Arabs put down their weapons today, there would be no more ‎violence. If the Jews put ‎down their weapons ‎today, there would be no ‎more Israel’‎”

        • Donavan-Ross Costaras says:

          Continuing the hypothetical… would I be correct in paraphrasing your last point as “there is not enough trust to make that a practical solution”?

        • Bennie Morani says:

          I think at this stage the mutual hatred is all consuming. It would take a long process, overseen by the US, UN and other entities to get to a point where something like that would be possible.

          • Mordechai Yitzchak says:

            Sadly, yes – there is no trust. Perhaps the most under-rated tragedy here was that (the very well-named) Abraham Accords had gained good traction before 7 October, with Saudi Arabia signalling it’s joining the table. Everyone knows that the power poles in the ME sit in Riyadh and Teheran. The cynics would say that the Mullahs (who support and fund Hamas) couldn’t stomach the Sheiks recognising Israel’s existence / seat at the table – and so they lit this powder keg.

  • Keith Richmond says:

    An articulate, thought-provoking letter, well worth reading.

  • Andre Grobler says:

    The way of the world, powerful corporates dictate to governments, and the UN, WHO…

    Powerful social media shapes public sentiment, and smears voices of reason…

    I can’t think of a crisis where this is not the case… do you think there is a situation where we are not propaganda’d into plausible ignorance?

    • Dietmar Horn says:

      Civilized people, gifted with reason and intelligence, should actually be able to deal with their own fears, control their own anger, distinguish fakes from facts, and always question their own opinions, not falling into the trap of political and religious ideologies that supposedly come from God. Civilized people, if they use their reason, can reasonably realize that peaceful coexistence is only possible if I love my neighbor as myself, if we see our enemies as people like ourselves. One such knowledge through reason does not depend on whether we believe in God. But if we believe in Him, we should ask ourselves: Did He really create us in His own image? Or is it not rather that we have established Him in our own imagination?

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