Israel Squares Off With Iran, Syria In Rights Debate

During the afternoon session of the U.N. Human Rights Council today, Israel accused Syria and Iran of gross violations of human rights. The two countries both responded with hyperbolic accusations against Israel.

Israel began its statement by noting that “human rights situations of concern arise not only during conflict, but also during times of peace.” It went on to target Syria for “violating human rights through actions against the general population through control of sources of information and persecution of certain groups for illegal expression,” and Iran for “restrictions on freedom of expression, unprecedented persecution of women and minorities, and vicious executions following unfair trials.” Israel concluded by quoting President Obama in Cairo : “the ability to speak your mind and have a say in how you are governed, government that is transparent and doesn’t steal from the people the freedom to live as they choose, these are not just American ideas, they are human rights and that is why we will support them everywhere.”

Syria and Iran utilized their rights of reply to strike back at Israel, with Iran stating that it is “ridiculous that the representative of a regime born of occupation and a history associated with racism and repression is addressing the Council” and claiming that Israel was “trying to distract attention from atrocities perpetrated in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.” (It also “rejected baseless allegations and distortions” by the European Union, Canada and Australia and proposed that the delegation of the Czech Republic look into sexual abuse and exploitation of women and children in its own country before criticizing Iran.) In its second right of reply, Iran claimed that “no smear campaign by the Israeli regime could cloud the fact that this regime poses the sole and most real threat the world is facing today and should be countered by the international community.”

Syria called Israel “the most vicious human rights violator in the region” and suggested that statements given by Israeli officials on their intention to “destroy the Arab world and throw the Arabs into the sea” is sufficient evidence of this.

Israel exercised its right of reply to Syria and Iran’s first statements, saying that “human rights are a birthright of all peoples regardless of borders that may surround them” and that the concept of nonintervention has been used to allow governments to commit “violations against their own people with impunity.” Israel pointed out that Syria is a dictatorship which denies its people the right to freedom of expression, while subjecting its own citizens to torture. Israel cited Syrian leader Assad’s own words on human rights reforms: “Maybe we are 100% wrong and you are 100% right, but since such talk is coming from you and you are outside Syria, it is unacceptable.” In regards to Iran, Israel pointed out that “stonings, floggings, and amputations are the Iranian people’s reality,” that “apostasy and homosexuality are punished with the death sentence,” and that the Iranian government “supports terror organizations whose only aim is destabilization and imposing their ideology on those with less power.”

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