A Friend Like Canada...
March 23, 2002
It is a wonder anyone pays heed to the pronouncements of the United Nations Human Rights
Commission, but unfortunately, the UN's imprimatur lends it credibility it does not deserve. Some of
the world's most repressive regimes are among its pious sermonizers. Less than half its 53 member
states are freedom-embracing democracies. Its head, Mary Robinson -- who, thankfully, is shortly to
leave her post -- would lecture at length about the smallest alleged human rights infractions by
Western nations, while generally ignoring real abuses by Third World tyrants. Last year, member
nations such as Cuba, Iran and China conspired with European delegations to kick the United States off
the Commission in a secret vote.
The Commission is currently holding its 58th Annual session in Geneva. As usual, this meeting has
featured a non-stop attack on Israel. Just as she did at the World Conference Against Racism in
Durban, South Africa, last fall, Ms. Robinson has permitted Islamic and Arab nations to control the
agenda and launch hyperbolic, anti-Semitic attacks on the Jewish state.
On Thursday, Algeria's ambassador to the Commission equated every night in the Palestinian Authority
to Hitler's attacks on Jews and synagogues. He also recited a Nazi death-decree -- in German, nice
touch -- then falsely claimed that Israel has similarly decreed the deaths of Palestinians. Algeria, it is
worth noting, last month celebrated the 10th anniversary of a government-enforced state of
emergency. During this decade, Amnesty International says, "human rights violations have become
institutionalized," and more than 100,000 people have died in attacks, including 22, mostly women and
infants, who were hacked to death with axes three months ago.
Cuba, which will vote for the inevitable anti-Israel motions put forward, celebrated the Commission's
own "International Human Rights Day" last December by arresting the 200 organizers of a
pro-democracy march. In Syria, another commission member, demonstrations by Islamists in 1982
resulted in the government slaughtering about 20,000 people -- several times more than were killed in
both intifadas combined.
Nothing will stop the Commission from passing bigoted anti-Israel resolutions; they are a rite of spring.
But in the past, the United States has at least forced recorded votes so as to avoid the appearance that
the Commission has endorsed the motions unanimously. With the U.S. off the Commission, Israel has
asked Canada to assume this role. Yet despite the recent claim of Jean Chrétien, our Prime Minister,
that Canada stands "shoulder-to-shoulder" with Israel, Bill Graham, the Foreign Affairs Minister,
remains non-committal. An official in his department said Thursday it was a tough call; Canada would
be "damned if it did and damned if it didn't."
But how is this a tough call to pick sides between murderous dictatorships and the Middle East's only
democracy? Israel is asking the smallest of favours. It is absurd to suggest its indulgence presents a
©2002 National Post