Thursday, 19 March 2009


Proposal to U.N. to criminalize "defamation of Islam"

Jeffrey Immon March 12, 2009

See UN Watch March 11, 2009 report below.Note that the Pakistan government has repeatedly sought to export to the international community, including the United Nations, calling for an international death penalty for Islamic "blasphemy."

UN Watch Briefing

Proposal at U.N. to criminalize 'defamation of Islam'

"Geneva, March 11, 2009 -- A new U.N. resolution circulated today by Islamic states would define any questioning of Islamic dogma as a human rights violation, intimidate dissenting voices, and encourage the forced imposition of Sharia law. (See full U.N. text below.)"

"UN Watch obtained a copy of the Pakistani-authored proposal after it was distributed today among Geneva diplomats attending the current session of the UN Human Rights Council. Entitled "Combating defamation of religions," it mentions only Islam."

"While non-binding, the resolution constitutes a dangerous threat to free speech everywhere. It would ban any perceived offense to Islamic sensitivities as a "serious affront to human dignity" and a violation of religious freedom, and would pressure U.N. member states -- at the "local, national, regional and international levels" -- to erode free speech guarantees in their "legal and constitutional systems.""

"It's an Orwellian text that distorts the meaning of human rights, free speech, and religious freedom, and marks a giant step backwards for liberty and democracy worldwide."

"The first to suffer will be moderate Muslims in the countries that are behind this resolution, like Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Pakistan, who seek international legitimacy for state-sanctioned blasphemy laws that stifle religious freedom and outlaw conversions from Islam to other faiths."

"Next to suffer from this U.N.-sanctioned McCarthyism will be writers and journalists in the democratic West, with the resolution targeting the media for the "deliberate stereotyping of religions, their adherents and sacred persons.""

"Ultimately, it is the very notion of individual human rights at stake, because the sponsors of this resolution seek not to protect individuals from harm, but rather to shield a specific set of beliefs from any question, debate, or critical inquiry."
"The resolution's core premise -- that "defamation of religion" exists as legal concept -- is a distortion. The law on defamation protects the reputations of individuals, not beliefs. It also requires an examination of the truth or falsity of the challenged remarks -- a determination that no one, especially not the UN, is capable of undertaking concerning any religion."

"Tragically, given that Islamic states completely dominate the Human Rights Council, with the support of non-democratic members like Russia, China, and Cuba, adoption of the regressive resolution is a forgone conclusion. E.U. diplomats hope at best to win over a handful of wavering Latin American states to the dissenting side."


"Following is a copy of the draft U.N. Human Rights Council resolution obtained by UN Watch. Prepared by Pakistan on behalf of the Islamic group, the text was circulated today to Geneva diplomats in advance of a council vote scheduled for the end of March. Emphasis added."

Human Rights Council ResolutionA/HRC/10/L.. Combating Defamation of Religions

The Human Rights Council,

Reaffirming the pledge made by all States, under the Charter of the United Nations, to promote and encourage universal respect for and observance of all human rights and fundamental freedoms without distinction as to race, sex, language or religion,
Reaffirming also that all human rights are universal, indivisible, interdependent and interrelated,

Recalling the 2005 World Summit Outcome adopted by the General Assembly in its resolution 60/1 of 24 October 2005, in which the Assembly emphasized the responsibilities of all States, in conformity with the Charter of the United Nations, to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms for all, without distinction of any kind and acknowledged the importance of respect and understanding for religious and cultural diversity throughout the world,

Recognizing the valuable contribution of all religions to modern civilization and the contribution that dialogue among civilizations can make towards improved awareness and understanding of the common values shared by all humankind,

Welcoming the resolve expressed in the United Nations Millennium Declaration adopted by the General Assembly on 8 September 2006 to take measures to eliminate the increasing acts of racism and xenophobia in many societies and to promote greater harmony and tolerance in all societies, and looking forward to its effective implementation at all levels,

Underlining in this regard the importance of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action adopted by the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, held in Durban, South Africa, in 2001, welcoming the progress achieved in implementing them, and emphasizing that they constitute a solid foundation for the elimination of all scourges and manifestations of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance,

Welcoming all international and regional initiatives to promote cross-cultural and interfaith harmony, including the Alliance of Civilizations and the International Dialogue on Interfaith Cooperation and their valuable efforts towards the promotion of a culture of peace and dialogue at all levels,

Welcoming further the reports of the Special Rapporteur submitted to the Council at its fourth, sixth and ninth sessions that highlight the serious nature of the defamation of all religions and the need to complement legal strategies;

Noting with deep concern the instances of intolerance, discrimination and acts of violence against followers of certain faiths, occurring in many parts of the world, in addition to the negative projection of certain religions in the media and the introduction and enforcement of laws and administrative measures that specifically discriminate against and target persons with certain ethnic and religious backgrounds, particularly Muslim minorities following the events of 11 September 2001, and that threaten to impede their full enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms,

Stressing that defamation of religions is a serious affront to human dignity leading to restriction on the freedom of religion of their adherents and incitement to religious hatred and violence,
Noting with concern that defamation of religions, and incitement to religious hatred in general, could lead to social disharmony and violations of human rights, and alarmed at the inaction of some States to combat this burgeoning trend and the resulting discriminatory practices against adherents of certain religions and in this context stressing the need to effectively combat defamation of all religions and incitement to religious hatred in general and against Islam and Muslims in particular,

Convinced that respect for cultural, ethnic, religious and linguistic diversity, as well as dialogue among and within civilizations, is essential for global peace and understanding while manifestations of cultural and ethnic prejudice, religious intolerance and xenophobia generate hatred and violence among peoples and nations,

Underlining the important role of education in the promotion of tolerance, which involves acceptance by the public of and its respect for diversity,

Noting various regional and national initiatives to combat religious and racial intolerance against specific groups and communities and emphasizing, in this context, the need to adopt a comprehensive and non-discriminatory approach to ensure respect for all races and religions,
Recalling its resolution 7/19 of 27 March 2008 and UNGA resolution 63/154 of 18 December 2008,

1. Takes note of the report of the High Commissioner on the compilation of existing legislation and jurisprudence concerning defamation of and contempt of religions and the report of the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance presented during the 9th session of the Human Rights Council;

2. Expresses deep concern at the negative stereotyping and defamation of religions and manifestations of intolerance and discrimination in matters of religion or belief, still evident in the world, which have led to intolerance against the followers of these religions;

3. Strongly deplores all acts of psychological and physical violence and assaults, and incitement thereto, against persons on the basis of their religion or belief, and such acts directed against their businesses, properties, cultural centres and places of worship, as well as targeting of holy sites, religious symbols and venerated personalities of all religions;

4. Expresses deep concern at the continued serious instances of deliberate stereotyping of religions, their adherents and sacred persons in the media, as well as programmes and agendas pursued by extremist organizations and groups aimed at creating and perpetuating stereotypes about certain religions, in particular when condoned by Governments;

5. Notes with deep concern the intensification of the overall campaign of defamation of religions, and incitement to religious hatred in general, including the ethnic and religious profiling of Muslim minorities in the aftermath of the tragic events of 11 September 2001; )

6. Recognizes that, in the context of the fight against terrorism, defamation of religions, and incitement to religious hatred in general have, become aggravating factors that contribute to the denial of fundamental rights and freedoms of members of target groups, as well as to their economic and social exclusion;

7. Expresses deep concern in this respect that Islam is frequently and wrongly associated with human rights violations and terrorism and in this regard regrets the laws or administrative measures specifically designed to control and monitor Muslim minorities, thereby stigmatizing them and legitimizing the discrimination they experience;

8. Deplores the use of the print, audio-visual and electronic media, including the Internet, and any other means to incite acts of violence, xenophobia or related intolerance and discrimination towards any religion, as well as targeting of religious symbols and venerated persons;

9. Emphasizes that, as stipulated in international human rights law including articles 19 and 29 of UDHR and 19 and 20 of ICCPR, everyone has the right to hold opinions without interference, and has the right to freedom of expression, the exercise of which carries with it special duties and responsibilities and may therefore be subject to limitations as are provided for by law and are necessary for respect of the rights or reputations of others, protection of national security or of public order, public health or morals, and general welfare;

10. Reaffirms that General Comment 15 of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, in which the Committee stipulated that the prohibition of the dissemination of all ideas based upon racial superiority or hatred is compatible with freedom of opinion and expression, is equally applicable to the question of incitement to religious hatred;

11. Strongly condemns all manifestations and acts of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance against national or ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities and migrants and the stereotypes often applied to them, including on the basis of religion or belief, and urges all States to apply and, where required, reinforce existing laws when such xenophobic or intolerant acts, manifestations or expressions occur, in order to deny impunity for those who commit such acts;

12. Urges all States to provide, within their respective legal and constitutional systems, adequate protection against acts of hatred, discrimination, intimidation and coercion resulting from defamation of religions, and incitement to religious hatred in general, and to take all possible measures to promote tolerance and respect for all religions and beliefs;

13. Underscores the need to combat defamation of religions, and incitement to religious hatred in general, by strategizing and harmonizing actions at the local, national, regional and international levels through education and awareness building;

14. Calls upon all States to exert the utmost efforts, in accordance with their national legislation and in conformity with international human rights and humanitarian law, to ensure that religious places, sites, shrines and symbols are fully respected and protected, and to take additional measures in cases where they are vulnerable to desecration or destruction;

15. Calls for strengthening international efforts to foster a global dialogue for the promotion of a culture of tolerance and peace at all levels, based on respect for human rights and diversity of religions and beliefs, and urges States, non-governmental organizations, religious leaders as well as the print and electronic media to support and foster such a dialogue;

16. Appreciates the High Commissioner for Human Rights for holding a seminar on freedom of expression and advocacy of religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence in October 2008, and requests her to continue to build on this initiative, with a view to concretely contributing to the prevention and elimination of all such forms of incitement and the consequences of negative stereotyping of religions or beliefs, and their adherents, on the human rights of those individuals and their communities;

17. Requests the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance to report on all manifestations of defamation of religions, and in particular on the serious implications of Islamophobia, on the enjoyment of all rights by their followers, to the Council during its 12th Session;

18. Requests the High Commissioner for Human Rights to report to the Council at its 12th Session on the implementation of the present resolution, including on the possible correlation between defamation of religions and the upsurge in incitement, intolerance and hatred in many parts of the world.Date: 3/11/2009

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To: The Honorable Hillary Clinton

March 17, 2009
The Honorable Hillary Clinton
Secretary of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520
Dear Madam Secretary:
I write to you today regarding the situation in the Middle East. In the wake of Hamas' attacks on Israel, and Israel's defensive operations, I understand the U.S. government has pledged to grant $900 million for the rebuilding of Gaza and for assisting the Palestinian Authority. I am concerned that this money will end up helping Hamas and hurting the very Palestinian people we intend to help.
For years, the U.S. has infused money into the Palestinian Authority (PA), with very little to show for it. Their leaders are no more ready to govern today than they were before we began our funding. After years of mismanagement, their basic institutions are in shambles and they have shown very little ability to govern in the West Bank without the presence of the Israeli Defense Forces. Instead of helping average Palestinians, our money has lined the pockets of the Arafats and other corrupt Palestinian leaders.
I also understand our funding will not be conditioned on any reciprocal actions by Hamas or the PA. Despite Israel's withdrawal from Gaza in 2005, Hamas still refuses to recognize Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state, has not stopped raining rockets on Israeli territory and still holds captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. It is essential that we condition our funding on Hamas'reciprocating with these basic demands. Without such links, Palestinians will see the U.S. as providing aid while Hamas continues to terrorize the Israeli people, with no consequences from the U.S. government.

I am also concerned that much of the funding will be directed through the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). Unfortunately, UNRWA has proven itself to be a biased agency, with very little oversight. During the most recent violence in Gaza, UNRWA issued numerous statements attacking Israel for their self-defense actions, while failing to criticize Hamas for launching missiles at innocent Israeli citizens. Much of UNWRA's money and services end up in the hands of people who are wealthy enough not to need the assistance, or worse, with members of terrorist organizations. UNRWA officials have even admitted that they cannot guarantee their money does not go to Hamas. I believe helping UNRWA does not further the cause of peace.
Click on the underlined to sign:


Israel's far-left activists are not always the sharpest minds around. Predictably, earlier this afternoon I received an e-mail update from ACRI, the Association of Civil Rights in Israel, in which they proudly told of (and attached) a letter they'd just sent to the prime minister, deploring the willingness of the government to look into legal ways of depriving incarcerated convicted Hamas murderers of some perks. According to media reports, these perks include cable TV sets in each cell so the inmates can watch al-Jazeera and al-Manar, the right to take mail courses at the Open University (an accredited Israeli university), and family visits.

ACRI thinks one of its main tasks is to bolster the rule of law over arbitrariness, but in this case they seem to have dropped that line. If the government finds legal basis to make the murderer's conditions less comfortable, then it's legal, and what is ACRI deploring? If it's not legal, as they claim, the government is unlikely to decide on the new measures, and if it does will be blocked immediately by the High Court of Justice (which, unlike the Supreme Court in the US, responds to such things swiftly, sometimes even immediately). It seems to me a rather clear case of ideology trumping not only common sense - that's standard for these folks - but even their own principles.

The position of the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI) is more fun.They aren't a bunch of lawyers, as ACRI largely is, so they took a different line, calling on Olmert to disband the committee he's just formed to search for legal ways to make life less pleasant.

"The forming of this committee and the mere deliberation of this matter constitute a dangerous premise… Using prisoners as bargaining chips goes against moral values and international law, and against a Supreme Court ruling on the matter"

Let's step back a moment and run over the issue. The inmates under discussion are convicted murderers of civilians. Most of them prepared and dispatched suicide murderers, which means they operated cold-bloodedly and in a calm and calculated way. Many of them murdered more than once; as a general rule, the reason they eventually desisted was that they were lucky enough not to be shot in clashes with the IDF; I doubt a single one of them had a change of heart and was arrested, say, in the monastery to which he had retreated to atone for his sins.

They were convicted in a court of law. Israel has no capital punishment (alas, I sometimes think, and sometimes don't), so the maximal sentence they can get is life imprisonment, multiplied by the number of their victims.

The present discussion has nothing to do with justice. By any reasonable measure of justice, they should spend decades in jail, perhaps to be let out as doddering old men. Nor is it a discussion of politics, in which the war between Palestinians and Israelis has truly ended, and Israel sets free convicted murderers because its erstwhile enemy percieves them as fighters in the now concluded war. Hamas, you remember, is deeply antisemitic, its charter calls for killing of all the Jews, and its spokesmen proudly proclaim there can never be any recognition of Israel's right to exist.

The entire discussion is about extortion. Israelis can't stand the thought of their single soldier losing his sanity in the hands of beasts who allow him no communication with the world, and eventually may kill him and chuck his body in an unmarked grave as they did to Ron Arad. Hamas knows these emotions of ours will over-ride our sense of justice, and will even force us knowingly to endanger lives of unknown innocents who will undoubtedly be murdered down the line; their knowledge of this is what reinforces their decision not to allow the Red Cross to see Gilad Shalit, because if his mother knew he was alive and he knew we care, it might be easier not to be extorted. His captors are, among other things, callous, scheming bastards.

So ironically, the fools at PCATI got it right: Using prisoners as bargaining chips goes against moral values and international law.

Three additional comments.
1. PCATI's very name is a willful distortion. They know perfectly well that by anyone's standards, Israel doesn't use torture.

2. If ever there was truly to be peace, Israel really would free the Palestinian murderers, as part of putting the past behind us and moving on. If the Hamas truly wished to free all its men (and women), their way forward is clear. The reason they need to kidnap soldiers, torture them and their families, and use them all as bargaining chips, is because they're never going to spring them through peace.

3. Forcing Israel to set free convicted murderers so they can continue murdering, whether the deal goes through or not, is a perfect way of generating additional hate from our side. Just a thought, for all those pundits who never stop preaching about how Israel isn't nice enough to the Palestinians.
taken from:Yaacov Lozowick's Ruminations (


Russia signs deal to supply Iran with air-defense missiles

By The Associated Press

Tags: Iran, air-defense missiles

Russian news agencies say a top defense official has confirmed that Russia has signed a contract to sell S-300 air-defense missiles to Iran but that none of the weapons have been delivered.

Russian officials have consistently denied claims that it already has provided some of the powerful missiles to Iran and had not clarified whether a contract existed.

The state-run ITAR-Tass and RIA-Novosti news agencies and the independent Interfax quoted an unnamed top official in the Federal Military-Technical Cooperation Service as saying Wednesday the contract had been signed two years ago.
Service spokesman Andrei Tarabrin told The Associated Press he could not immediately comment.

Supplying the S-300s to Iran would markedly change the military balance in the Middle East.


Report: IDF chief gave U.S. fresh intel on Iran nukes program

By Natasha Mozgovaya, Haaretz Correspondent, Haaretz Service, and Reuters

Tags: Israel News, Gabi Ashkenazi

American sources told the Saudi newspaper Al-Watan that Israel Defense Forces chief Gabi Ashkenazi provided fresh intelligence to the United States concerning Iran's nuclear facility in Arak during his visit to Washington earlier this week, according to Israel Radio.

Ashkenazi on Monday said that while Israel was interested in exhausting diplomatic options against Iran's nuclear program, the army must nevertheless prepare itself for a military attack.

The army chief decided to cut short his trip in order to take part in a special cabinet session on negotiations for a deal to release abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.
Arak is considered one of Iran's key nuclear sites that is believed to contain a heavy water reactor. A Washington think-tank issued a report on Tuesday which said that ballistic missiles could be Israel's weapon of choice against Iranian nuclear facilities if it decides on a pre-emptive attack and deems air strikes too risky.

Israel is widely assumed to have Jericho missiles capable of hitting Iran with an accuracy of a few dozen meters (yards) from target. Such a capability would be free of warplanes' main drawbacks - limits on fuel and ordnance, and perils to pilots.

Extrapolating from analyst assessments that the most advanced Jerichos carry 750 kg (1,650 lb) conventional warheads, Abdullah Toukan of the Center for Strategic and International Studies said 42 missiles would be enough to "severely damage or demolish" Iran's core nuclear sites at Natanz, Esfahan and Arak.

During a visit to Washington, D.C., Ashkenazi met with Dennis Ross, the designated U.S. envoy to the Persian Gulf, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to discuss the Iranian issue.

The IDF chief told Ross that Israel would not tolerate a nuclear Iran. He said that a diplomatic approach to Iran's contentious nuclear program must be taken first, but said Israel must also prepare for other possibilities.

Ashkenazi also met during his trip with General James Jones, national security adviser to President Barack Obama, to discuss other Middle East issues. The IDF chief held a number of other meetings over the course of his visit, but was forced to turn down an invitation to dine at the home of outgoing Israeli envoy Salai Meridor, in the company of other senior American officials.

While in New York, Ashkenazi attended an event sponsored by the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces and attended by some 1,500 donors


Exposed: How Palestinian Fixers Manipulate their Media Bosses
On Honest Reporting.


Where is the Arab outrage over Darfur?


In recent years, a media revolution has been taking place in the Arab world, so that the media now reflect to a great extent the atmosphere of the Arab street as well as the consensus in the Arab regimes. Criticism against the crimes committed by the Zionist occupier in Palestine receives substantial resonance, whereas other horrors that take place in the region get little coverage, especially when they are the work of local players and not of Europeans, Americans or Jews. The regional condemnation of Israel doesn't reflect global humanitarian standards but is reserved especially for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The criticism against Israel, by its volume and severity, overshadows the coverage of the ongoing conflict in Darfur, for example, which in the past few years has already claimed a quarter of a million victims and created millions of refugees. The ethnic cleansing taking place in Darfur is far worse than any other regional crisis and cannot be compared to the Israeli-Palestinian political conflict, neither in volume nor in essence.

The silence of the Arab media regarding the humanitarian side of the conflict in Darfur is reinforced by the fact that Sudan is an active member of the Arab League. Moreover, some voices in the local press claim that the Western coverage of the Darfur crisis is part of a Zionist-Western conspiracy to divert attention from Iraq and Palestine and bring foreign involvement to Sudan to take control of its natural resources.

In 2007 THE INTERNATIONAL Crisis Group and the American University in Cairo held a workshop on media coverage of the Darfur crisis. The participants - leading journalists and academics from the Arab world - claimed that Arab media do not give enough attention to the humanitarian disaster in Darfur, compared both to Western media and to the attention that Arab media dedicate to other conflicts in the Middle East. Their report argues that due to lack of resources, but also lack of interest and racism, political aspects of the Darfur crisis are generally given priority over humanitarian ones, their coverage being shallow and inaccurate.

Criticism of Israel from the likes of Sudan, Egypt, Jordan, Turkey and Syria appears loaded with hypocrisy when all of these countries oppress minorities and bluntly violate human rights.

In Sudan, the Arab Janjaweed tribal militia is backed by president Omar al-Bashir, himself accused by the International Criminal Court of genocide. Immediately after his indictment by the ICC in July 2008, the Arab League, many of whose members accuse Israel of war crimes, issued a statement in support of the Sudanese president. Still, some voices in the Arab world backed the ICC decision and condemned the Arab League statements, among them that of Abd al-Rahman al-Rashed, director-general of Al-Arabiya TV and former Al-Sharq al-Awsat editor.

THE ARAB WORLD was silent in the 1960s when Egypt used mustard gas in northern Yemen, in the '70s when Jordan killed Palestinians, in the '80s when Syria massacred tens of thousands of its own citizens who were supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood, and in the '90s when Saddam Hussein slaughtered Kurds in the north and Shi'ites in the south of Iraq. Severe discrimination is being practiced against ethnic and religious minorities in countries throughout the Middle East.

Since Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan walked of on camera at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Turkey has become the flag-carrier for criticism against Israel in the Middle East. Turkey, while accusing Israel of war crimes, cannot confront its own past regarding the Armenian genocide and pressures academic and diplomatic bodies to prevent any serious public debate on the subject. Today, Turkey uses cultural and military oppression to deny the right of the Kurdish minority to self-determination.

According to Reporters without Boundaries, the biggest challenge to the freedom of press in the Middle East is the self-censorship that reporters exert on sensitive issues. Due to these restrictions, the Arab reporters channel their criticism toward Israel, which remains the regional punching bag and the target of Arab and Muslim rage against every illness in the world. Arab countries would certainly benefit more from looking inward to their own societies' problems.

ALL THESE EXAMPLES do not acquit Israel from criticism. Whether Israel is conceived as a country fighting for its existence or as an aggressive occupier, external criticism is a necessary factor in balancing the conflict. An advanced dialogue is already taking place within Israel itself, and many organizations enjoy their freedom to harshly criticize the state. Similarly, crimes taking place in other countries do not exempt the IDF from its obligation to seriously investigate the reasons for the high number of civilian casualties during the last operation in Gaza.

Nonetheless, the regional media should report proportionally, since one-dimensional coverage of the conflict is misleading, demonizing and creates intense hate toward Israel and the Jews in the Arab street. This atmosphere will in turn make it difficult for the moderate Arab states to explain to their people the peace initiatives that they promote. While Arabs widely cover any Western or Israeli aggression against Arabs or Muslims around the world, they ignore Arabs or Muslims hurting other Arabs, Muslims or Africans. This gap in coverage suggests that Arabs require much higher moral standards from Israel and the West than from themselves.

Regional criticism against Israel must be made within international relationships of proportional political and international interests. Higher questions of morality and justice must be left to philosophers, or to a just and balanced media that is ready to criticize all sides without bias and in accordance to global humanitarian standards.

The writer is a Legacy Heritage Fellow working on Jerusalem and a MA student in the Middle East and Islamic studies department at the Hebrew University.
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