The UN's Orwellian Language on Israel

In the chorus of denunciation from much of the world community of Israel's defensive incursion into Gaza, nowhere was the feverish bleating more evident than from the UN's Human Rights Council, the perennially biased 47-member group of panjandrums that replaced the Israel-loathing UN Commission on Human Rights in 2005. A two-day "emergency session," seemingly held only when Palestinians are dying and not Israelis, titled "The Grave Violations of Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory including the recent aggression in the occupied Gaza Strip," leaves little doubt of the forgone conclusions to be reached during the vitriolic discussions.

In few places where public diplomacy and negotiations are conducted is there such visible moral incoherence and hypocrisy as regularly occurs in Human Rights Council sessions, including this January 12th session where the resolution was adopted after only Canada voted against it, with members from the EU and West abstaining. EYE on the UN, a group at the Hudson Institute New York and the Touro College Institute for Human Rights which monitors UN activities, notes that, tellingly, "this emergency special session was the fifth the Council has had on Israel. By comparison, the Council has held nine regular sessions on human rights in all of the other 191 UN states," clearly indicating that this group has no problem ignoring egregious human rights violations, ethnic conflict, and massacres in despotic regimes worldwide. In fact, it is almost always Israel who is singled out for censure, and "in its two and a half-year history, the Council has condemned Israel more often than all other states in the United Nations combined."

Underlying the ideologically-driven hatred of the Middle East's only democracy is a deadly Orwellian vocabulary which defines Israel as a pariah nation, a rogue state, an aggressive, murderous regime which is ethnically cleaning Palestine of its perennially-suffering third-world victims. Even the title of this wildly productive "emergency session" is coded with lies and distortions that help the Council reinforce Israel's perceived role as the world's most militaristic force and the greatest threat to world peace.

But in order to excuse or obscure the barbarism of Palestinian terror, Israel's behavior in defending itself has to be framed as inexcusable, inhuman, and, in the ubiquitous phrase of the moment, "disproportionate" to the threat it faces from its jihadist foes. Thus, the January resolution, which conveniently ignores the war crimes of Hamas, "calls for the immediate cessation of Israeli military attacks throughout the Palestinian Occupied Territory," and "strongly condemn[s] the ongoing Israeli military operation" which has resulted "in massive violations of human rights of the Palestinian people." 

That is the relatively tame language of diplomacy, which, though one-sided, might pass for concern in a world where moral inversion was not so rampant. But this Human Rights Council session, as most do, quickly devolved into a frenzied Israel hate-fest, where one member after another struggled to escalate the rhetoric and frame Israel's current military incursion with the reprehensible and historically vile accusations that the deaths in Gaza, primarily of carefully targeted Hamas terrorists, were "massacres" tantamount to "genocide," a veritable "holocaust" in Gaza.

That these words are so promiscuously used against Israel also reveals how Israel's ideological and existential enemies have no compunction about gross hyperbole when evaluating its military or political actions, and indicates that they are either ignorant of the true meaning of the slanderous terms they fling about, or want to continue heaping inventive upon Israel regardless of the truthfulness of the accusations. During the three-day Human Rights Council session, for instance, the Nicaraguan representative called the Gazan situation "a new holocaust;" Syria pined for the "lives taken by Israel in the holocaust it is perpetrating," and the World Federation of Trade Unions NGO demanded "an end to this holocaust."

Yemen crowed that "barbaric massacres and the genocide" in Gaza were "gross and flagrant war crimes." Venezuela denounced "the genocide and criminal action of the Israeli government." Syria drew a horrific vision of "women and children in Palestine are being buried alive" with "schools of the United Nations...  turned into mass graves  . . . by the "occupying authorities which commit genocide." The representatives from Bolivia, Oman, Ecuador, Libya, and Libya also used the specific term "genocide," sprinkled liberally with "war crimes," "barbarism," and "crimes against mankind" in their general condemnation of Israel.

All of these accusations, of course, have the intended effect of perpetuating the image Israel as the world's bloodiest, most militaristic, and law-breaking rogue nation, incessantly creating high body counts and spilling Muslim blood. The problem with this assessment, even though it is widely held and actively promulgated by Israel's enemies who obsessively focus on the Arab/Israeli conflict as the key impediment to world peace, is that it is a complete inversion of fact. University of Bremen's Professor Gunnar Heinsohn and Daniel Pipes, director of the Middle East Forum, for instance, recently compiled statistics on all world conflicts with an excess of 10,000 deaths since 1950, just after Israeli was created. Despite the libelous accusations of the Council, the statistics show that a number of other bloody conflicts actually deserve the designation of "genocide," massacre," or even "holocaust," and that the total, though still tragic, number of deaths of Arabs and Jews in Palestine over a tumultuous 58-year period totals 51,000-only the forty-ninth most deadly conflict.

The roughly1000 recent deaths in Gaza are indeed tragic, particularly the loss of civilian life; but in their zeal to define recent events as a genocide or a holocaust, the Human Rights Council has apparently conveniently forgotten, or wishes to overlook, say, the 400,000 deaths in Somalia since 1991, 900,000 fatalities in Rwanda, one million deaths in Saddam Hussein's 1980-88 war with Iran, the 1,900,000 souls who have perished, and continue to die, in Sudan, or the 100,000 or more who have died in Iraq since 2003 alone. 

So while the significance of the Israeli/Arab conflict looms large in the world's imagination, Heinsohn and Pipes note that the total deaths there "amount to just 0.06 percent of the total number of deaths in all conflicts in that period. More graphically, only 1 out of about 1,700 persons killed in conflicts since 1950 has died due to Arab-Israeli fighting," indicating that neither the particularity of that conflict nor the lethality qualify it for the obsessive attention Israel's detractors are fond of heaping on it.

More revealing, as the two study authors report, is that Muslim deaths disproportionately occur at he hands of co-religionists, that while "some 11,000,000 Muslims have been violently killed since 1948, of which 35,000, or 0.3 percent, died during the sixty years of fighting Israel, or just 1 out of every 315 Muslim fatalities . . , over 90 percent of the 11 million who perished were killed by fellow Muslims."

There have been actual genocides and the horrific death of innocents across the world, many of which occurred in some of the morally-challenged member states of the UN's Human Rights Council, and conscience demands that they be identified and condemned for what they are when they flare up. But the Orwellian contortion of language that attempts to frame the current Israeli defensive incursion into Gaza as either a massacre, a genocide, or a holocaust trivializes history and insults the memory of those souls who have perished in conflicts that could be accurately called by those names.

Richard L. Cravatts, Ph.D., director of Boston University's Program in Publishing at the Center for Professional Education, is currently writing a book about higher education, Genocidal Liberalism: The University's Jihad Against Israel.
In the chorus of denunciation from much of the world community of Israel's defensive incursion into Gaza, nowhere was the feverish bleating more evident than from the UN's Human Rights Council, the perennially biased 47-member group of panjandrums that replaced the Israel-loathing UN Commission on Human Rights in 2005. A two-day "emergency session," seemingly held only when Palestinians are dying and not Israelis, titled "The Grave Violations of Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory including the recent aggression in the occupied Gaza Strip," leaves little doubt of the forgone conclusions to be reached during the vitriolic discussions.

In few places where public diplomacy and negotiations are conducted is there such visible moral incoherence and hypocrisy as regularly occurs in Human Rights Council sessions, including this January 12th session where the resolution was adopted after only Canada voted against it, with members from the EU and West abstaining. EYE on the UN, a group at the Hudson Institute New York and the Touro College Institute for Human Rights which monitors UN activities, notes that, tellingly, "this emergency special session was the fifth the Council has had on Israel. By comparison, the Council has held nine regular sessions on human rights in all of the other 191 UN states," clearly indicating that this group has no problem ignoring egregious human rights violations, ethnic conflict, and massacres in despotic regimes worldwide. In fact, it is almost always Israel who is singled out for censure, and "in its two and a half-year history, the Council has condemned Israel more often than all other states in the United Nations combined."

Underlying the ideologically-driven hatred of the Middle East's only democracy is a deadly Orwellian vocabulary which defines Israel as a pariah nation, a rogue state, an aggressive, murderous regime which is ethnically cleaning Palestine of its perennially-suffering third-world victims. Even the title of this wildly productive "emergency session" is coded with lies and distortions that help the Council reinforce Israel's perceived role as the world's most militaristic force and the greatest threat to world peace.

But in order to excuse or obscure the barbarism of Palestinian terror, Israel's behavior in defending itself has to be framed as inexcusable, inhuman, and, in the ubiquitous phrase of the moment, "disproportionate" to the threat it faces from its jihadist foes. Thus, the January resolution, which conveniently ignores the war crimes of Hamas, "calls for the immediate cessation of Israeli military attacks throughout the Palestinian Occupied Territory," and "strongly condemn[s] the ongoing Israeli military operation" which has resulted "in massive violations of human rights of the Palestinian people." 

That is the relatively tame language of diplomacy, which, though one-sided, might pass for concern in a world where moral inversion was not so rampant. But this Human Rights Council session, as most do, quickly devolved into a frenzied Israel hate-fest, where one member after another struggled to escalate the rhetoric and frame Israel's current military incursion with the reprehensible and historically vile accusations that the deaths in Gaza, primarily of carefully targeted Hamas terrorists, were "massacres" tantamount to "genocide," a veritable "holocaust" in Gaza.

That these words are so promiscuously used against Israel also reveals how Israel's ideological and existential enemies have no compunction about gross hyperbole when evaluating its military or political actions, and indicates that they are either ignorant of the true meaning of the slanderous terms they fling about, or want to continue heaping inventive upon Israel regardless of the truthfulness of the accusations. During the three-day Human Rights Council session, for instance, the Nicaraguan representative called the Gazan situation "a new holocaust;" Syria pined for the "lives taken by Israel in the holocaust it is perpetrating," and the World Federation of Trade Unions NGO demanded "an end to this holocaust."

Yemen crowed that "barbaric massacres and the genocide" in Gaza were "gross and flagrant war crimes." Venezuela denounced "the genocide and criminal action of the Israeli government." Syria drew a horrific vision of "women and children in Palestine are being buried alive" with "schools of the United Nations...  turned into mass graves  . . . by the "occupying authorities which commit genocide." The representatives from Bolivia, Oman, Ecuador, Libya, and Libya also used the specific term "genocide," sprinkled liberally with "war crimes," "barbarism," and "crimes against mankind" in their general condemnation of Israel.

All of these accusations, of course, have the intended effect of perpetuating the image Israel as the world's bloodiest, most militaristic, and law-breaking rogue nation, incessantly creating high body counts and spilling Muslim blood. The problem with this assessment, even though it is widely held and actively promulgated by Israel's enemies who obsessively focus on the Arab/Israeli conflict as the key impediment to world peace, is that it is a complete inversion of fact. University of Bremen's Professor Gunnar Heinsohn and Daniel Pipes, director of the Middle East Forum, for instance, recently compiled statistics on all world conflicts with an excess of 10,000 deaths since 1950, just after Israeli was created. Despite the libelous accusations of the Council, the statistics show that a number of other bloody conflicts actually deserve the designation of "genocide," massacre," or even "holocaust," and that the total, though still tragic, number of deaths of Arabs and Jews in Palestine over a tumultuous 58-year period totals 51,000-only the forty-ninth most deadly conflict.

The roughly1000 recent deaths in Gaza are indeed tragic, particularly the loss of civilian life; but in their zeal to define recent events as a genocide or a holocaust, the Human Rights Council has apparently conveniently forgotten, or wishes to overlook, say, the 400,000 deaths in Somalia since 1991, 900,000 fatalities in Rwanda, one million deaths in Saddam Hussein's 1980-88 war with Iran, the 1,900,000 souls who have perished, and continue to die, in Sudan, or the 100,000 or more who have died in Iraq since 2003 alone. 

So while the significance of the Israeli/Arab conflict looms large in the world's imagination, Heinsohn and Pipes note that the total deaths there "amount to just 0.06 percent of the total number of deaths in all conflicts in that period. More graphically, only 1 out of about 1,700 persons killed in conflicts since 1950 has died due to Arab-Israeli fighting," indicating that neither the particularity of that conflict nor the lethality qualify it for the obsessive attention Israel's detractors are fond of heaping on it.

More revealing, as the two study authors report, is that Muslim deaths disproportionately occur at he hands of co-religionists, that while "some 11,000,000 Muslims have been violently killed since 1948, of which 35,000, or 0.3 percent, died during the sixty years of fighting Israel, or just 1 out of every 315 Muslim fatalities . . , over 90 percent of the 11 million who perished were killed by fellow Muslims."

There have been actual genocides and the horrific death of innocents across the world, many of which occurred in some of the morally-challenged member states of the UN's Human Rights Council, and conscience demands that they be identified and condemned for what they are when they flare up. But the Orwellian contortion of language that attempts to frame the current Israeli defensive incursion into Gaza as either a massacre, a genocide, or a holocaust trivializes history and insults the memory of those souls who have perished in conflicts that could be accurately called by those names.

Richard L. Cravatts, Ph.D., director of Boston University's Program in Publishing at the Center for Professional Education, is currently writing a book about higher education, Genocidal Liberalism: The University's Jihad Against Israel.