By Rolene Marks
Every Friday, the social media platform Twitter is transformed into a flurry of excitement. Emiratis, Bahrainis, Moroccans and Israelis eagerly exchange wishes of Shabbat Shalom and Jumaa Mubarak as people of both the Jewish and Muslim faiths begin to prepare for our respective Sabbaths. We exchange well wishes, images of our respective countries and take delight in the blessings in Hebrew, Arabic and English that are shared between many of us who although we may not have met (yet!) in person, are forging friendships.
If you had told me two years ago that this would be happening, I would have thought you are meshuggah (mad). But here we are, nearly two years after the signing of the historic Abraham Accords and the effects are tangible. Peace is no longer a pipe dream – it is happening.
Agreements are signed between leaders but peace is built by the people. While cynics among us may think that these Accords exist primarily to stave off Iranian hegemony in the region and that may be a factor; but the cooperation has extended to business, tourism, innovation, security and other industries.
They say fortune favours the brave and this is evident daily in the extraordinary amount of deals being signed, knowledge exchanges, tourism and more. The peace train has started its journey around the Middle East and while it may be only a few carriages long, there is hope that it will grow in size and stature. Israel’s leaders have made historic trips to both the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain and delegations like the interfaith Sharaka, have visited Israel, travel permitting. There has been an exchange of ambassadors and embassies have been opened. Peace is flourishing.
You would think that with this historic level of goodwill, many of Israel’s detractors would find some redeeming qualities about the Jewish state they are so intent on demonizing but sadly, they can’t. Several weeks ago, self-proclaimed “progressive” organisations, If Not Now (famous for saying Kaddish, the prayer for the dead for Hamas terrorists who have been eliminated), Jewish Voices for Peace (JVP) and various others, put together a petition objecting to the Abraham Accords. “While masquerading as ‘peace’ and ‘diplomacy’, the Abraham Accords and this legislation are in fact an endorsement of arms sales and political favors between the US and authoritarian regimes – including weapons sales to the United Arab Emirates and the recognition of Morocco’s illegal annexation of Western Sahara – in exchange for the sidelining of Palestinian rights,” read their statement.
Several weeks ago, US Congressman, Jamaal Bowman, who is considered a progressive amongst the Democratic Party, joined a JStreet delegation to Israel, meeting a variety of leaders both in Israel and from the Palestinian Authority. Last week, Bowman, a signatory to a treaty endorsing the Abraham Accords, withdrew his support citing that it ignores Palestinian rights.
Nothing says “we are so progressive” like protesting peace accords!!
It is no great secret that the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is one of the most complicated in the world; but at what stage do these organisations and leaders stop infantising the Palestinians? If these “progressives” were sincere about peace, they would not only encourage the Abraham Accords, they would stop the obsessive and unhelpful demonization of Israel and ignoring of Palestinian intransigence that still encourages incitement, pay-for-slay and other obstacles to peace.
Nobody is saying that Israel is faultless but the obsession of the progressives to paint Israel as the sole obstacle to peace is dangerous and counterproductive.
They are not the only ones who are like dogs with a juicy bone when it comes to the Israel- Palestinian conflict.
The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHEC) also have an obsession with the Jewish state, having passed more resolutions and sent more inquiries concerning the Jewish state than other conflicts and human rights abusers. As the world stands on the precipice of a potential war between Russia and the Ukraine, the UNHRC turns its focus to……….Israel.
The UNHRC has set up an inquiry into the flare up between Israel and Hamas during May of 2021. Heading up this inquiry will be Navi Pillay, a South African jurist who served as the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights from 2008 to 2014.
Pillay, who is mandated to be impartial, has a long history of anti-Israel rhetoric and this has prompted watchdog, UN Watch, to submit a 30-page complaint to the UNHRC alerting them to the fact that she had not disclosed her previous prejudicial statements.
Hillel Neuer, Executive Director of UN Watch says:
“It is astonishing that the United Nations appointed an individual as the supposedly impartial chair of an inquiry immediately after she declared one of the parties guilty in the very controversies that are at issue in the investigation .By heading this inquiry, despite having repeatedly declared Israel guilty of precisely the crimes that she is supposed to investigate, Navi Pillay embodies the injustice of the UN and its human rights council when it comes to the selective treatment of the Jewish state.”
While the inquiry is mandated to examine “systematic discrimination” on the basis of race, ethnicity or national origin, in June 2020 Navi Pillay signed a petition, organized by the South African Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (SA BDS) coalition, entitled: “Sanction Apartheid Israel!”
In a May 2021 lecture, Pillay described Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians as “inhuman”. She compared Israel to Apartheid South Africa, and defended the systematic singling-out of Israel under a targeted agenda item at the UN Human Rights Council.
“Apartheid is now being declared a crime against humanity in the Rome Statute, and it means the enforced segregation of people on racial lines, and that is what is happening in Israel,” said Pillay in November 2017.
“Never throughout her UN tenure did Pillay use such dismissive language regarding any other country—not even against serial abusers such as China, Russia, Iran, Syria or North Korea. From her statements, it is clear that in Pillay’s eyes, Israel is a cruel and oppressive colonizer, and a racist regime. Her narrative of who is the villain is set in stone. Ms. Pillay has long ago made up her mind. Asking Navi Pillay to head an inquiry examining Israel is like asking a vegetarian to review a steakhouse. When it comes to Israel, as our legal brief demonstrates, Pillay is the complete opposite of impartial. The legal test is the appearance of bias, and there’s no doubt that Pillay fails the test. We are therefore calling on her to do the right thing, and to resign immediately.”
The UNHRC have to date, stood by their appointment of Pillay.
The examples shown above clearly demonstrate that Israel’s detractors, while seeking to appear concerned about social justice and human rights, have a greater agenda in place – the continued labelling of Israel as a pariah state, to be excluded from the family of nations.
As the Muslim world continues to open up to rapprochement and normalization with the Jewish state and the social justice warriors continue with their efforts to scupper peace, it is increasingly evident who the true progressives are.
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