Canadian appointed to chair UNHRC panel investigating Gaza war crimes accused of anti-Israel bias [Excerpts]
On [August 11], the United Nations Human Rights Council announced the people who would investigate “purported” human rights violations in the Gaza Strip during the recent fighting. The UNHRC decided to set up the body on July 23, approximately two weeks after the current fighting began.
The chair of the Commission of Inquiry is Canadian William Schabas. That the UN body would appoint someone who has demonstrated a bias if not a hatred for the only democracy in the Middle East is hardly news. What is interesting is the law professor’s response to accusations he is vehemently anti-Israel. Schabas did not disavow or deny previous statements he has made about Israel but argued he can still be impartial. His rationale strains credulity and provides comic relief in a situation that his hardly humorous.
Schabas, 63, is a professor of international law and a recognized expert in human rights and genocide. And as we all know, Israel is the only country that practises genocide while what the Islamic State is doing to Christians and Yazidis and the firing of rockets by Hamas are mainly unfortunate if not justified incidents.
Questions were immediately raised about Schabas’ impartiality. A few years ago he had stated Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and former Israeli president Shimon Peres should be in the dock at the International Criminal Court to be tried for war crimes. Schabas has even acknowledged the UN has a double standard when it comes to Israel but they deserve to be held to a higher standard because they are backed by the United States.
What is interesting is the 63-year-old does not deny making the statements attributed to him. Although he will not describe Hamas as a terrorist organization because that would be “prejudging” what he is tasked to decide, he sees no problem with being objective about Israel whose current prime minister is the same one he says should have previously been tried for war crimes.
In a bizarre defence of his ability to remain neutral in investigating a country for possible war crimes after stating their current leader should have been tried years ago, Schabas told the Globe and Mail: “The suggestion that I’m anti-Israel is absurd. Like everyone else inside or outside of Israel, I disagree with people. Is everyone who has an opinion about Netanyahu anti-Israel?”
It’s hard to believe anyone with a minimal amount of intelligence could make such a statement, let alone a professor of international law. Of course everyone has an opinion; the problem is that he’s expressed an opinion in no uncertain terms and now he is supposed to be fair and impartial to the country whose leaders he already believes have committed war crimes. First year law students know better.
In an offshoot of “some of my best friends are Jewish,” in his defence of his impartiality, the professor pointed out he’s on the board of the Israel Law Review.