Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Kangaroo Court: UN judges Israel, hides the evidence

On April 27, 2015, the United Nations published an astonishing report. This report purports to reveal the results of an official UN inquiry into what Israel had done to some UN facilities in Gaza during the 2014 Gaza-Israel war. The inquiry has concluded that Israel had bombed these facilities and killed 44 Gazan civilians.

It was an astonishing report because it was so flawed. In fact, it wasn’t a report at all. Instead, it was an abbreviated ‘summary’ of a report.

The actual report won’t be available. You’ll never see it. The UN says it will not be made public.

What you get instead is a summary with set of conclusions. For example, the ‘summary’ concluded that Israel was responsible for death and damage at these UN facilities that had specifically been set aside as havens for Gazans seeking refuge. It’s a wickedly unflattering report. It puts Israel into a very bad light.

But this summary is not professional. It should never have been presented. It’s inherently unfair: it libels Israel while hiding all the evidence. You’ll never know if any of the conclusions are correct, fair or objectively deduced.

The summary is published without footnotes. There’s little to support its conclusions. It was published without an ‘evidence list’. It stated that it had gathered at least some of its evidence from “witnesses who could assist [the inquiry] in its investigation” (“Preliminary Analysis of UN Board of Inquiry Summary Regarding 2014 Gaza Conflict”, NGO Monitor, April 28, 2015). But it doesn’t reveal who these witnesses were, who they worked for and what were their political connections and organizational associations.  A reader has no idea if their testimony (or, statements) were accurate--or motivated by considerations other than truth.

The summary doesn’t discuss details of evidence. It doesn’t identify what evidence it rejected. It doesn’t identify what evidence it failed to acquire.

If the ‘summary’ is so suspect, how do we judge the inquiry itself? We can’t. That’s what makes the ‘summary’ look so unprofessional. A reader has absolutely no means to evaluate the analysis.

But the result of the publication of this summary is much less uncertain: it’s created a flood of anti-Israel headlines. The media has had a ‘field day’ with it. It jumped on the anti-Israel conclusions (Barak Ravid, “UN report: Israel responsible for hits on 7 Gaza facilities during war”, Haaretz, April 27, 2015).

In general, the media presented Israel as a brutal aggressor.  UN Secretary-General (who presented the summary to the public) was reported as saying he 'deplores' the fact that 44 Palestinians were killed as result of Israeli actions against UN premises that were being used as emergency shelters (“UN report: Israel responsible for Gaza shelter attacks”, i24news, April 27, 2015). The phrase ‘Israel blamed’ showed up in most media stories.

But, again, the UN material the media has used to condemn Israel is so flawed, one can’t assess the conclusions it reached about Israeli actions and culpability. Yes, the summary did criticize Hamas. But there, too, we can’t assess if that criticism was fair or sufficient.

It’s a bad piece of work. No wonder the media distorted its presentation of Israel. That distortion was the only conclusion one could draw.

Ahh, but isn’t that how a ‘kangaroo court’ works?

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