Israel chairs UN legal Committee: What an irony!

Bad things happen all the time. But when the occurrence of bad things is tainted with irony, it congeals feelings of dejection and astonishment. Irony, of course, has its own worth. Henry James once wrote, “Don’t underestimate the value of irony - it is extremely valuable.” The value of irony lies in its ability to serve as an eye-opener and a wake-up call. 

I picked up the quote on irony from Henry James’s novella, “Washington Square”, whose events are set in late 19th century New York. That type of irony is quite palatable, unlike the one that happened also in New York, but in June 2016, when the United Nations, being the ‘vox populi’ for international justice, decided to nullify the time-honored principle of natural justice expressed by the Latin phrase ‘Nemo judex in causa sua’, which means that no person can judge a case in which they have an interest.      

This sort of irony is incredibly rancorous, offensive, and loaded with unbearable provocation. Even those who predict weird and grotesque things to happen, found it unimaginable to see Israel presiding over the UN’s Legal Committee. It is preposterous that Israel is nominated by the Western European and Other Group (WEOG) to chair the UN Sixth Committee, which deals with legal issues, including, inter alia, the rule of law at the international levels; the responsibility of States for internationally unlawful acts; and the status of the Additional Protocols to the Geneva Conventions relating to the protection of victims of armed conflicts.

Of course, (WEOG) argues that it has full autonomy over its nomination choices, and, therefore, designated Israel for this high office. What is important to underline, however, is that, while regional groups enjoy autonomy over the selection of their candidates for UN offices, such a privilege comes with responsibility.

Nominating a candidate that has never ceased to denigrate the United Nations, having a long ‘rap sheet’ of flagrant violations of the fundamental rules and norms of international law and the UN resolutions, can definitely not be viewed as a responsible decision. Yes, this nomination is provocative, offensive, and undermines the UN credibility. Behavior of the candidate country put forth for such a post, should, at the very least, be in compliance with, and not in blatant disrespect to, international law and resolutions of the very Committees under its chairmanship.

Any honest observer or responsible decision-maker would agree that Israel, which is in grave violation of international law and innumerable UN resolutions, is ineligible to chair a UN Committee, certainly not the one tasked with the prevention of the flagrant violations perpetrated by Israel. It is axiomatic that Israel’s chairmanship of this Committee not only negates the principle of natural justice, but also creates a reasonable apprehension of bias that can undermine the integrity of the UN. Much worse, Israel interpreted the nomination as endorsement of its policies and violations, and found no reason for steering a different course as long as unquestioning support is always at hand from reliable allies like WEOG. Such blind support is unfathomable, and clearly reminiscent of the words of Marcellus in Hamlet: “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.”  

Lo and behold! One week after assuming the chairmanship of the world’s top legal Committee, Israel shamelessly announced new plans for expanding its illegal colonies in the West Bank. Ironically, some of WEOG members, as a routine lip service, condemned the Israeli move. A few days later, Israel, the new Chair of UN legal Committee, appointed a notorious misogynist and racist Rabbi, Eyal Karim, as the Chief Rabbi of the Israeli army. The new Rabbi is disreputable for saying it is “OK to rape good-looking women in wartime” and he referenced it to the commandment in Sefer Devarim (Deuteronomy, the fifth book of the Torah) on how a fighter in war is allowed to “take” a beautiful female prisoner for a wife or concubine, which resembles a similar practice by Daesh in Iraq against Yazidis and other minorities. How ironic! The rape endorsement comes from the spiritual leader of the army which Israel insists on describing as the "number-one moral army in the world". Dare not to call it second moral army, otherwise you can be prosecuted for being anti-Semitic.

To WEOG: No man, for any considerable period, can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the true. Nathaniel Hawthorne