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Human Rights Day 2013

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Human Rights Day 2013


by Stephen Lendman


In 1950, the UN proclaimed December 10 Human Rights Day. It did so to affirm the importance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).


Eleanor Roosevelt chaired the UDHR drafting committee. Seventeen other political, cultural and religious figures joined her. She said:


"We must show by our behavior that we believe in equality and justice and that our religion teaches faith and love and charity to our fellow men." 


"Here is where each of us has a job to do that must be done at home, because we can lose the battle on the soil of the United States just as surely as we can lose it in any one of the countries of the world." 


In September 1948, its first draft was completed. Over 50 member states were involved. 


On December 10, 1948, UN Resolution 217 A (III) adopted UNHR. No members dissented. Eight abstained. Despite emerging Cold War tensions, common ground was found.


UNHR's 30 articles pledged "to promote respect for (fundamental human) rights and freedoms...both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction."


It called "the inherent dignity (and) equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world."


World War II atrocities inspired UNHR. The UN Charter's Preamble vowed never again. "(S)av(ing) succeeding generations from the scourge of war" was prioritized.


So was "reaffirm(ing) faith in fundamental human rights," "assur(ing) (respect for) justice and international law," and "promot(ing) social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom."


Since 1945, the UN failed dismally on all counts. Multiple global wars persist. Rule of law principles don't matter. Human rights are consistently ignored. Democracy is more illusion than reality.


UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is a US-installed imperial stooge. Disingenuously he said "let us intensify our efforts to fulfill our collective responsibility to promote and protects the rights and dignity of all people everywhere."


Throughout his tenure, he irresponsibly spurned them. He ignores what he's mandated to uphold. He one-sidedly backs wealth and power interests. Popular ones went begging on his watch. They still do.


He's done nothing to help long-suffering Palestinians. He turns a blind eye to horrific Israeli human rights violations. He does so consistently. He does it repeatedly. 


He shames the high office he holds. He's in league with rogue powers. So are other senior UN officials.


On December 6, 2011, Haaretz editors headlined "Human rights in Israel are in jeopardy," saying:


"Israel ratified the Universal Declaration of Human Rights." It spurns them consistently. It pays lip service to what it abhors. It shows in how occupied Palestinians are treated.


Israel's longstanding Human Rights Record is deplorable. On December 9, the Jerusalem Post headlined "ACRI annual report slams human rights problem with Israeli Arabs, migrants." 


Ahead of Human Rights Day, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) reviewed major 2013 trends. 


They reflect horrific treatment of "weaker sectors of society, discrimination against Israeli Arabs, (as well as) African migrants and" nonviolent protesters.


Violations include "rolling back subsidies for young children and the elderly, cutting off the supply of water to people who could not afford timely payments and the elimination of public housing."


Racist attacks increased. Workplace discrimination is widespread. Knesset legislation institutionalized repressive practices.


High Court rulings were circumvented. Ruling authorities consistently ignore them. Arab citizens and African migrants endure horrific abuses.


ACRI CEO Hagai Elad said:


"The annual report is a reminder of how much more work there is to do to improve the defense of the rights of the sons and daughters of Israel.”


"(W)ith our joint efforts, we hold in our hands the power to change the situation, not only to be those who raise (attention) to harming rights, but also to be the generators of change."


Elad also said "(o)ccupation will never be consistent with human rights." It reflects the worst of racist repression.


Militarized occupation is ruthless. On December 9, Addameer headlined "International Human Rights Day…Palestinian People's Suffering Continues."


This year "coincides with" Oslo's 20th anniversary. Palestinians got nothing in return for renouncing armed struggle.


Settler numbers tripled from 200,000 in September 1993 to well over 600,000 now. Israel wants permanent occupation legitimacy. 


Sovereign Palestinian freedom is denied. Peace in our time is more illusion than reality.


"...Human Rights comes this year while the human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) is continuously deteriorating, and the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the rules international human rights law derived from it, and international humanitarian law are violated," said Addameer.


"This year may be considered the worst at the level of the catastrophic deterioration of the Palestinian human rights situation resulting from" virtually daily Israeli crimes against humanity.


They include multiple daily home invasions, mass arrests, abusing young children like adults, targeted assassinations, kidnappings, torture, land theft, violent ethnic cleansing, calling Palestinian self-defense terrorism, and committing slow-motion genocide against 1.7 million Gazans.


World leaders able to make a difference turn a blind eye.


"Today, it is disgraceful that Palestinians have (to keep) struggl(ing) for freedom and self-determination (and must beg) for their rights to life, food, health care and living conditions that preserve their dignity, while their natural right to freedom and enjoyment of all civil and political rights as well as their cultural, social and economic rights continue to be denied," said Addameer.


The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) addressed this year's Human Rights Day commemoration.


It comes when Occupied Palestinian conditions keep deteriorating. Israel consistently violates core international humanitarian law principles.


It controls about 60% of stolen Palestinian land. Militarized occupation is ruthless. Palestinians are increasingly isolated in ghettoized bantustans.


Ethnic cleansing continues daily. International protection is entirely absent. Palestinians aren't sure each day if they'll see another.


Palestine is an isolated prison. Besieged Gaza is the world's largest open-air one. An entire population is being suffocated out of existence.


Palestinians endure virtually every type human rights abuse imaginable. They endure it multiple times daily. They endure it horrifically. 


They sustain what no people anywhere should have to suffer. They do it isolated on their own virtually out of sight and mind. At the same time, sham peace talks continue.


Israeli-style peace is none at all. It's ruthless militarized occupation. It masquerades as self-defense.


Israeli historian Ilan Pappe believes Palestinians "don't have the luxury to wait" for Israel to change. It's been hardline for 65 years. It's more ruthless than ever now.


It's "more chauvinistic, ethnocentric (and) intransigent," said Pappe. Peaceful conflict resolution remains a distant hope. It's a present day illusion.


Waiting for Israel to change exacts an enormous price. Ignoring Israeli crimes assures increasing them. Stopping what's ongoing more than ever is urgent.


A "powerful model of (outside) pressure" is needed, said Pappe. It won't come from leaders able to make a difference. It's up to civil society. Initiatives like BDS are important.


Much more is needed. Sustaining it is vital. So is increasing it. Doing it globally. Attracting growing numbers of Jews. Including Israelis for long denied justice.


It's not easy. It takes time. Sunshine is the best disinfectant. The more the better. Big Truths repeated enough attract growing numbers of adherents.


Doing so represent steps one and two for change. The power of overwhelming popular sentiment works.


Politicians most want reelection. Spurning constituent wishes risks defeat. Pappe believes reality on the ground in Palestine reflects a one-state solution, not two.


"Five minutes on the ground shows you that the one state is already there," he says.


"It's a non-democratic apartheid regime." It's vital to change it. "You need to think about how to change the relations between the communities, how to affect the power structure in place."


How to transform an Israeli apartheid state into one nation with equal rights for all its people matters most. No other solution works.


On Human Rights Day 2013, that message should resonate. It's a core issue to support. 


It's perhaps the best chance for conflict resolution. Maybe the only one. Continuing decades of repression assures none.


Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 


His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."


Visit his blog site at 


Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.


It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.


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