THE SPINE NOVEMBER 29, 2006
I was wondering whom the U.N. Human Rights Council would designate to find Israel guilty of the charges the council has brought against it. Frankly, I assumed that they'd anoint Jimmy Carter to convict the Jewish state of all sorts of crimes. After all, he is very reliable on these matters. And he would know what is wanted of him. You will recall that the newly "reformed" human rights apparatus of the United Nations has been in existence for barely a half year, and already it has condemned Israel four times. Even Kofi Annan, the soon (but not soon enough) departing secretary general, has complained about this fixation of the H.R.C. So how many times has it confronted Sudan? None. North Korea? None. China? None. Has it confronted any other state? No. Just Israel. Does anti-semitism have anything to do with this? Of course not.
Well, they didn't choose Carter. They chose instead, as as today's Haaretz reports, Desmond Tutu, the former Anglican Archbishop of Capetown. Now, we all know that, increasingly, Anglican churchmen are becoming more than a little daffy. It'd be a surprise to me if more than a few handfuls of them believed in Jesus Christ or--for that matter--God Himself, Herself, Itself, no matter. At most, Jesus becomes a shill for these clerics' politics.
Please look at the photo of Tutu on the link to the Ha'aretz story. Is it not one of the most sanctimonious faces you've ever seen? Maybe this isn't scientific, but I believe that by a certain age face and character take responsibility for each other. I've heard Tutu many times. And I met him once, on a trip to South Africa, before the apartheid regime collapsed. There, even where justice and injustice was so clear, in a way, even self-evident, he couldn't resist his comfort with sanctimony. But one could tolerate--sometimes just barely--his false piety. After all, there was a real struggle going on, and it was composed of stirring idealism and practical discipline.
The problem with Tutu and the Palestinians is that he ends up being at once a provocateur and an apologist for their deeds, all of them, because he criticizes none of them. Now, it's not as if Tutu has few opinions about Israel and its struggle with the Palestinian revanche. He has spoken out many times. Just Google him or call him up on Lexus. You'll see: in this struggle, Israel has not justice on its side. The latest H.R.C. resolution deals with the recent fighting in Gaza. What Tutu is supposed to "assess" is "the situation of victims, address the needs of survivors and make recommendations on ways and means to protect Palestinian civilians against further Israeli assaults." This is a false agenda.
Does anyone imagine, can anyone imagine, that Israel would have sent arms and men into Gaza if the Palestinians had not on an every-day basis been firing Qassam rockets into the country's cities, town, kibbutzim? After all, the Israelis left Gaza a year ago this past summer, hoping that this withdrawal would be a prelude to a larger withdrawal from the West Bank. Who broke the quiet in Gaza? One doesn't have to ask. Or even answer, for that matter. By the way, the Human Rights Council has not said even a single word in reference to the Qassam attacks. As it happens, the Human Rights Commissioner Louise Arbour was in the Israeli Sderot last week. She and her party, as Haaretz puts it, "were nearly hit by a Qassam that slammed into the Negev town of Sderot, in a salvo that killed a local factory worker." Maybe, if Arbour had been hit, the world would understand...