The international community’s opportunity to emphasize Israel’s colonial violence

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay (Fabrice Coffrini - AFP)

Ramona Wadi

Middle East Monitor  /  February 24, 2022

Israel’s human rights violations have become more prominent since human rights organizations have taken it upon themselves to speak of the settler-colonial state’s apartheid practices. Needless to say, Israel is unleashing its usual non-compliance with international organizations, the latest being its refusal to cooperate with the UN Human Rights Commission’s open ended investigations into the violations Israel committed since May 2021 onwards.

The Commission, which is expected to deliver its report in June, may serve another blow to Israel’s public image if its findings corroborate the apartheid practices detailed by B’Tselem, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. Needless to say, the Palestinians were the first to assert their apartheid experience, but the international community does not heed Palestinian voices unless they are compliant with the humanitarian narrative.

Meirav Eilon Shahar, Israel’s Permanent Representative to the UN and International Organizations in Geneva formally asserted Israel’s refusal to cooperate with the investigation, in a letter to the Commission’s head, Navi Pillay. “It is obvious to my country, as it should be to any fair-minded observer, that there is simply no reason to believe that Israel will receive reasonable, equitable and non-discriminatory treatment from the Council, or from this Commission of Inquiry,” the letter partly stated.

Shahar added that the Commission members were chosen “so as to guarantee a politically motivated outcome that is tailored in advance.”

Pillay has been previously accused of anti-Israel bias, notably for taking stances against Israeli apartheid.

However, Israel is manipulating Pillay’s stances to maintain its anti-Israel bias complaint. All Israel has to do is look at its own actions to confirm that it has, indeed, engaged in war crimes and maintains an apartheid system against the Palestinian people.

Using the appropriate terminology for Israel’s human rights violations is not palatable to Israel. The International Criminal Court has been clear about Israel’s war crimes, and recent reports documenting apartheid practices have contributed towards a possible change in the mainstream narrative on Israel. Of course, such a disruption would mean that the purported “anti-Israel bias” which has formed the premise of many complaints against international institutions will no longer be as impactful.

After all, there has never been any anti-Israel bias within the UN – the institution is too intrinsically linked with Israel’s colonial existence and its main priority is to protect the monstrosity it created, even at the expense of legitimizing human rights violations.

It is likely that another apartheid designation would be forthcoming; however, there is no guarantee that the UN will act upon the findings. Which brings Shahar’s purported concerns to nothing, as far from anti-Israel bias, the UN’s commitment to protecting Israeli interests goes back to legitimizing the settler-colonial enterprise as a state. And, before that, the approval of the 1947 Partition Plan which not only took ownership of land out of Palestinian hands, but enshrined a permanent imbalance that continues to play out in Israel’s colonial apartheid policies.

Israel’s refusal to comply is nothing new. But the international community can alter the course of perception if, for once, it decides to act independently of Israel’s tantrums and uphold the Commission’s findings as inherent to Israel’s colonial violence.

Ramona Wadi is an independent researcher, freelance journalist, book reviewer and blogger; her writing covers a range of themes in relation to Palestine, Chile and Latin America