When law professors believe Naomi Klein

Last month’s Harper’s magazine published a revisionist history by Naomi Klein of the 2001 Durban conference and its 2009 would-be sequel, Durban II. My contemporary and fellow Jewish Montrealer told a great story — except that it was entirely fictional, a figment of her rabidly anti-Western and anti-Israel imagination.For reasons having to do with either the fact that no one reads Harper’s any more, or Naomi Klein’s reputation for making things up, her essay went almost completely ignored, apart from the usual fringe blogs on the extreme left.Consequently, I didn’t see the need in doing more to correct the historical record than publishing this op-ed, pointing out a few of her article’s numerous distortions — little things like glossing over Col. Qaddafi’s Geneva agent being the organizer of the April 2009 conference — and spotlighting Klein’s three-decade obsession with accusing Jews of being racist, her paranoid ravings about Israel being wicked, depraved and out to get her, and the falsification of a key part of her official biography. (Klein then lashed out, attacking my op-ed as “a wacky stalker article,” but failed to heed admirer Philip Weiss’ request that she explain herself. Turns out the fearless investigative journalist of evil capitalists was outraged that anyone would dare to apply the same scrutiny to her dissembling.)But I may have been wrong. Her essay, left unanswered, may in the end cause its own damage. Not only was the article distributed by someone at the UN in Geneva to the entire press corps, but law professors like William Schabas, author of textbooks on international criminal law and human rights, are actually treating her nonsense as fact. For the sake of historical truth, then, perhaps I ought to refute Klein in greater detail after all. Stay tuned.To be sure, Schabas’ politics embody Klein’s antipathy toward the Jewish state and America, and he shares her eagerness to make excuses for genocidal dictators. He wants us to be impressed with Ahmadinejad’s Iran for agreeing to the Durban II text, and urges the world not only to “ignore” Ahmadinejad’s statements, but to stop “exaggerating”  them.Professor Schabas, can you please tell us which of Ahmadinejad’s statements are being “exaggerated”? The ones denying the Holocaust? Those calling for the destruction of Israel? Those that authorized, justified and then denied the bloody arrest, rape and killing of hundreds and thousands of Iranian dissidents since the stolen election in June?The automatic majority of repressive regimes that controls at least 30 out of the 47 seats of the UN Human Rights Council — the Islamic states together with the likes of China, Russia, Cuba — is something Schabas would evidently like us all to forget. Their assault on free speech through “defamation of religion (Islam)” resolutions, their focusing 80% of all Council resolutions on Israel in order to shield their own abuses, their elimination of investigative mandates on Cuba, Belarus, Liberia, and Congo — all of this and more is just too much uncomfortable reality for Schabas’ woldview to handle.No, according to Professor Schabas, who is a strong ally of Richard Goldstone, the enemy of human rights is someone entirely different:

[S]everal actors deserve the blame for the problems: Israel and its friends, who have manipulated the truth about the nature of the work of the United Nations by gross exaggeration of the role and intervention of certain fanatics; western States, like Canada and the United States and those of Western Europe, that love to talk about ‘accountability’ for atrocities when they take place in Cambodia or Bosnia or Sierra Leone but that loath the idea that we continue to address the impact of slavery, the slave trade, colonialism and the destruction of aboriginal peoples…

To be fair, he also includes Ahmadinejad in this list of blame-sharers. Except that the world’s leading Holocaust denier is described as a merely “provocative politician,” not a barbaric murderer of his own people, inciter of genocidal anti-Semitism, or arch-sponsor of terrorism in the Middle East. For Schabas, as for Klein, the menacing power of Iran is instead something to be “ignored.”If only Eleanor Roosevelt and Rene Cassin — the architects of the UN human rights system who passionately defended Israel’s right to exist — were alive today. Then again, for their sake — lest they have to witness what has become of their legacy — maybe not.

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