The commitment to basic human rights, for many a great hope after the Second World War, is now instrumentalized for political, economic and military interests. It was 10 December 1948 when the UN Declaration of Human Rights (1) was adopted in Paris. 48 states voted in favour, nobody voted against, 8 states (2) abstained. In 30 points comprehensive rights were established for all people who – according to Article 1 – were all “born free and equal in dignity and rights” and “gifted with reason and conscience”. They “shall meet one another in the spirit of brotherhood”.
70 years later, globalization shook the power structure of the post-war period, in which the USA – after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1989 – thought to have asserted itself as “the only world power” (3). Today other powerful poles are present: Russia, China, India and various regional powers oppose the submission to the world order which the USA created with its allies in Europe, Canada, Australia, Japan and others.
A new multipolar world order is called for. The USA does not want to give up its leading role. The previous US partners are looking for a way between national, transatlantic and international positioning – the world is out of joint. The price for the fight for a new world order is paid by the people in whose countries this power struggle is fought. The human rights agreed in 1948 are being disregarded as never before. The UN, its organisations and UN resolutions are openly disregarded, circumvented and defamed by the USA and some of its allies. International law, as adopted in the UN Charter of 26 June 1945 in San Francisco, is broken for its own interests. Those who insist on its observance are declared enemies or “eternally yesterday”. Crises and wars have increased, almost 70 million people are on the run. The concept of “human rights” has – as in the time of the “Cold War” – become a combat concept. In order to put his opponent under pressure, one warns him first to respect the human rights. In the next step one accuses him of violating human rights, whereby international human rights organizations often support this procedure with campaigns, which are taken up and spread by media and politics.
Finally, there are legal criminal proceedings and indictments, including before the International Criminal Court. Since the large global international media companies are almost exclusively in the hands of the USA or its allies – AP in the USA, Reuters in Great Britain, AFP in France, dpa in Germany – such campaigns attract worldwide attention. Since other media such as Al Jazeera in Qatar, RT in Russia, CCTV in China, Press TV in Iran have been able to make themselves heard worldwide in English or Spanish, such campaigns have been questioned or confronted with other representations.
With the so-called “social media” on Facebook, Twitter and others, countless new blogs and portals have emerged that claim to work neutrally and scientifically, or they want to spread “truth”. They claim to “explain history”, “enlighten” or “find facts”, but usually spread interpretations and/or views. This is justified in the context of freedom of the press and freedom of speech, but it does not mean that the representations do justice to the actual history or an event. The USA, EU and NATO have invented a new concept of struggle. “Fake news” is spread by Russian and Iranian media, a reporter from Spiegel-Online recently stated at a panel discussion in Frankfurt/Main. The EU and NATO have set up special task forces to stop such “propaganda”.
An example: The Middle East
The Middle East is the area where the struggle between a unipolar world order à la USA and a multipolar world order rages most fiercely. Here international law is broken systematically and sustainably, human rights are disregarded, states are prevented from their independent development and destabilized. It began at the end of the First World War with the division of the region into French and British interests, according to the Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916, intensified with the Balfour Declaration of 1917, in which the British government promised the Zionist World Federation support for the establishment of a “national home in Palestine”. It continued with the formation of new states, Syria, Transjordan, Lebanon, Iraq, at the Paris Peace Conference of 1919/20, which disregarded the results of the King Crane Commission.
The Commission (4) had received petitions in 1875 in which the local population had expressed their opinion: they did not want a French mandate and they wanted a United Syria, i.e. no division of Syria and Palestine. The “Zionist programme” could “only be implemented by force”, according to the Commission’s report. The League of Nations, forerunner of the United Nations, confirmed the division of the region against the will of the people living there. The injustice continued after the Second World War on 29 November 1947 with a partition plan between Israel and Palestine adopted by the UN General Assembly, which was disregarded by the violent establishment of the State of Israel on 14 May 1948 and led to the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homeland (Nakba) (5).
One day after the adoption of the UN Charter of Human Rights, on 11 December 1948, the UN General Assembly adopted Resolution 194, Article 11 of which recognises the right of the Palestinians to return and/or compensation (6). The decision is based on the UN Declaration of Human Rights. It says, among other things:
Article 13.2: Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.
Article 17.2: No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his or her property.
In December 1949, the UN Organisation for the Support of Palestinian Refugees, UNWRA, was founded. When it began its work in May 1950, 914,221 Palestinian refugees were registered. Palestinian refugees were and are “persons whose place of residence was in Palestine during the period 1 June 1946 and 15 May 1945 and who lost both their home and livelihood as a result of the 1948 conflict”. This status also applies to the descendants of male Palestinian refugees, including adopted children (7). No UN resolution in favour of Palestinian or other Arab refugees, which has lost health, homeland, work, relatives in crises and wars with Israel since the foundation of the State of Israel, has ever been observed by Israel. This applies to Lebanese, whose land was occupied again and again by Israel, as well as to Syrians, who lost everything during the occupation of the Syrian Golan Heights in 1967 and their annexation by Israel in 1981 in violation of international law. 70 years after the adoption of the UN Charter of Human Rights, Israel’s neighbours have nothing to celebrate. Some of the Palestinian refugees have been expelled several times by Israel, and many live as refugees in their own country, the Gaza Strip. For 11 years, the coastal strip of Israel has been sealed off from land, sea and air and repeatedly attacked militarily. Since 30 March, the 70th anniversary of their expulsion in 1948, the inhabitants of the Gaza Strip have organised the “March of Return”, in which thousands of people, young and old, take part every Friday. They march along the fences set up by Israel, which prevent the Palestinians from reaching other parts of Palestine or Israel.
Amnesty International (8) reports that more than 150 people were killed in these marches by Israeli soldiers beyond the fences. At least 10,000 were injured, including 1849 children, 424 women, 115 nurses with clear identification and 115 journalists, also marked as press. 5814 of the injured were therefore hit by live ammunition. One Israeli soldier was injured, another soldier was killed.
A short video clip by Amnesty International (9) allows Palestinians – women and men – from the Gaza Strip to speak. They say they have been deprived of their rights. The right to education, freedom of movement and travel, social, economic and political security. There is no electricity, no clean water, says one woman. There is a lack of secure health care, of work, of income. A man reports that he was shot three times because he protested against the siege. His wife says she was injured in the leg. Now she is wearing a cast and hopes to be able to walk again one day. “Come visit us,” says one man. “See for yourself how we have to live here. Beautiful words are not enough, something has to be done. The Israeli blockade was imposed in 2007 on the land, water and air routes. Gaza airport, which was built with EU money, has been bombed. Ships trying to approach Gaza from the sea are upset, boarded and confiscated by the Israeli navy. Fishermen who go further than 3 nautical miles out to sea are fired at. The border crossings to land are closed again and again. To date, hardly any material for reconstruction has reached the Gaza Strip. People are denied access to medical treatment, to universities or to leave the country.
The catastrophic human rights situation for the Palestinians is the result of the failure of international politics. Israel acts as an occupying power without complying with its obligations under international law. Israel builds on Palestinian soil, destroys Palestinian houses and schools (10), expels, arrests, insults the Palestinians in their own country, where they remain to this day. In the occupied territories of the West Bank, Israel has developed an apartheid system with places, schools, streets for settlers where Palestinians are not allowed to move. The attempt to annex the whole of Palestine, to expel the Palestinians across the Jordan to Jordan and into the desert of the Sinai Peninsula is supported by the White House in Washington as a “century deal”. Not only is the Palestinians’ right to return to their homeland not respected 70 years after the adoption of the UN Charter of Human Rights and the corresponding UN resolutions, but Israel is mocking it. And with the Palestinians, the UN organization that was founded in 1949 to help the Palestinian refugees is mocked and defamed.
“UNRWA Circus”, Avivel Schneider, editor-in-chief of “Israel Today”, recently commented in a commentary that the Palestinian refugees could inherit “their refugee status to their children”. This is not granted to “any other refugee in the world,” Schneider said. The Palestinians “maintain their refugee status” (11). He was pleased with US President Donald Trump’s decision to cut UNRWA funding. It is “absolute nonsense” to maintain a refugee organisation “exclusively for the Palestinians”. At a meeting with 50 foreign ambassadors and diplomats (12), Deputy Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely declared that UNRWA was “a problem, not the solution”. The aim of Israeli policy is to “close UNRWA”, Hotovely continued. The assembled diplomats should also work towards this goal with their governments. The internet portal “Mena Watch”, which presents itself as an independent think tank, is scandalously agitating against people and organisations that point to the rights of the Palestinians and their disregard by the Israeli occupying power. Authors of the Internet portal speak at events about the “myth Nakba” or publish books about the fact that the United Nations wanted to deny all rights to the “Jewish state” (13).
UN resolutions denouncing the illegal construction of settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories and the violent actions of the Israeli army against the Palestinians are reinterpreted as “anti-Semitic” and “anti-Israel” propaganda.
In Germany this falls on fertile ground. The civil society Palestinian “boycott, disinvestment and sanctions for Palestine” campaign, BDS, (14) was recently even stigmatized as “clearly anti-Semitic” in the state parliament of North Rhine-Westphalia. Public institutions were asked not to give any space to such events (15). Not only in North Rhine-Westphalia, but also in Baden-Württemberg, Israeli politics are subject to discussion bans.
On 6 December 2018, journalist Andreas Zumach was to speak on the topic of “Israel – its true and false friends” (16) at a Protestant adult education event (EEB). The event was cancelled due to the intervention of the Jewish Cultural Community in Karlsruhe. Reason: Andreas Zumach was involved in the “Alliance to End Israeli Occupation, BIB” (17). This was similar to the BDS campaign “anti-Semitic”.
Sources and comments:
(2) Yugoslavia, Poland, Saudi Arabia, the Soviet Union, South Africa, Czechoslovakia, Ukraine and Belarus.
(3) Zbigniew Brzezinski, The Only World Power: America’s Strategy of Dominance (Fischer Nonfiction).
(4) The King Crane Commission travelled through the Levant from June 10 to July 21, 1919. The report was not discussed at the Paris Peace Conference and later disappeared in the USA. Only in 1963 it was published in Beirut: Harry N. Howard, The King Crane Commission.
(5) Ludwig Watzal, Enemies of Peace, The Endless Conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. Aufbau-Taschenbuch-Verlag, 2001
(11) (30.11.2018; Israel Today) http://www.israelheute.com/Nachrichten/Artikel/tabid/179/nid/34572/Default.aspx)
(12) (26.11.2018) https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20181129-israel-urges-countries-to-stop-funding-unrwa/
Translated from German