GENEVA (Sep. 3)
Western diplomats have expressed amazement that a U.N. human rights panel that just concluded proceedings in the midst of the Persian Gulf crisis devoted five pages to a resolution condemning Israel and a scant one-and-a-half pages expressing concern about Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait.
The U.N. Human Rights Subcommission on the Prevention of Discrimination and the Protection of Minorities completed a month of deliberations here last week with a strong condemnation of Israel for its “occupation” of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Participants observed that this year’s resolution, in fact, was much harder on Israel than last year’s.
One observer from a Western country said, “You cannot imagine the hate there is here against Israel. It’s irrational.”
Ironically, the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait on Aug. 2, just when the subcommission was beginning its hearings, only seemed to sway the panel more against Israel.
Among the long litany of charges against Israel were what the panel called the deliberate killings of Palestinians, including children; breaking the limbs of young men and causing grave harm to their physical safety; subjecting cities, villages and refugee camps to squalid living conditions; and strangling their inhabitants with curfews, which prevent them from obtaining food and medical supplies.
The charges, the resolution said, constitute grave violations of international law.
The commission is composed of so-called experts, not official government representatives, and many of these experts are traditionally anti-Israel’s U.N. ambassador in Geneva, Itzchak Lior, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
As it has in the past, the subcommission reaffirmed the right of the Palestinian people to resist the “Israeli occupation by all means, in accordance with U.N. resolutions.” It cited the intifada as one such form of resistance.
The resolution also condemned Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights, which it captured from Syria in the 1967 Six-Day War.
PLIGHT OF JEWISH WOMEN IN SYRIA
In contrast, the resolution on Iraq said the subcommission has “expressed concern at the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms in Iraq” and “urges the government of Iraq to ensure full respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.”
In the midst of the adversarial atmosphere, one participant at the hearings bravely pleaded the cause of Jewish women in Syria who cannot marry, because many of the eligible Jewish men have managed to flee the country.
Claire Palley, a teacher from Britain, spoke of the plight of some 200 Jewish women of marriageable age in Syria and the failure of the Syrian government to facilitate their emigration.
“Despite protestations, I have heard over the past three years by the representative of Syria that Syria’s government does not practice discrimination, especially in relation to persons of the Jewish faith,” she said.
She called for the “actual emigration of the women, who have become victims of the tragic enmities between the State of Israel and those Arab states which are in dispute with Israel and deny that state the right to exist.”
Palley said the Syrian participant at the subcommission, Muhamad Pharaon, had told her personally that there was no discrimination against Jewish women and that, indeed, 14 women had gone to the United States but had returned because they had not found “proper husbands.”