by Rachel Neuwirth | Los Angeles A symposium titled ‘Human Rights and Gaza’ held at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) sponsored by its Center of Near East Studies (CNES) on January 21, 2009, concerned with the recent conflict in Gaza, communicated more falsehoods and malicious slander about Israel that could be found in any academic setting. And given the fierce hostility to Israel on American and European college campuses, that is saying a great deal. There was no balance at all on the speaker’s panel. All of the participants were openly and virulently hostile to Israel, and none presented an Israeli perspective on the conflict. The speakers were Richard Falk, a UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights, Professor Emeritus, Princeton University and currently visiting Professor Global and International Studies at UC Santa Barbara; Lisa Hajjar, Associate Professor and Chair, Law and Society program, UC Santa Barbara; Saree Makdisi, Professor English Dept. UCLA; Gabriel Piterberg, Professor, History Dept. UCLA and Moderator: Susan Slyomovics, Director, CNES. Inaccuracies, distortions and glaring falsehoods streamed at breathtaking speed from all of these speakers. Israel was accused (as usual) of using “disproportionate force” on the basis of either the casualty count or the difference in weaponry, which in no way could be seen as valid criteria. As clearly spelled out in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (Article 2), a disproportionate attack is to be measured by losses “which would be clearly excessive in relation to the concrete and direct overall military advantage anticipated.” Besides, Hamas’ use of human shields – a practice that is becoming growingly apparent as eyewitness reports are obtained – puts the responsibility of the civilian deaths in Gaza squarely on Hamas and not on Israel. Hamas’ despicable disregard for human life is condemned in no uncertain terms by the Fourth Geneva Convention (Article 28) and its First Protocol (Article 51). But you would be searching in vain for any clear condemnation of Hamas in this symposium. None of the participants ever mentioned that Hamas is a terrorist organization; that all civilized countries view them as such; and that a number of UN Security Council Resolutions were adopted under Chapter VII (i.e. absolutely binding on all UN members) precisely to act against terrorist groups such as Hamas. UNSC Res. 1337 (2001) demands that all states …
- "refrain from providing any form of support, active or passive, to entities or persons involved in terrorist acts"
- "deny safe haven to those who finance, plan, support, or commit terrorist acts, or provide safe havens"
- "prevent the movement of terrorists or terrorist groups by effective border controls and controls on issuance of identity papers and travel documents.
- “recalls that criminal acts, including against civilians, committed with the intent to cause death or serious bodily injury, or taking of hostages, with the purpose to provoke a state of terror in the general public ...are under no circumstances justifiable by considerations of a political, philosophical, ideological, racial, ethnic, religious or other similar nature, and calls upon all States to prevent such acts and, if not prevented, to ensure that such acts are punished by penalties consistent with their grave nature.”