Sunday, September 21, 2014 Elul 26, 5774

An Appeal to the UN's Commissioner of Human Rights

August 6, 2014 By:
Sharon Ritz
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South African Navanethem 'Navi' Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

I have watched the outcry of “Injustice to Palestine!” as shops and synagogues were set on fire all over Europe. I have read newspapers with a wealth of heart-wrenching photos of Palestinians, but no equal coverage for the Israeli plight. Upon finding out that the U.N. Human Rights Council would be accusing Israel of war crimes, I decided that I needed to do something beyond merely venting my frustrations on Facebook. I decided to go right to the source and write a letter to U.N. Human Rights Council Commissioner Navi Pillay, the initiator of these accusations. 

As it turned out, this was not an easy thing to do.  I could not find e-mail addresses for anyone specific at the UN.  The only address I found that worked was a generic “infodesk” account.  It’s been a week since I sent my letter and it seems I’ll never know if it was received. So I'm sharing it here. 

Dear Commissioner Pillay,

I am not someone who would normally approach someone of your standing.  I am an ordinary American who supports Israel to the fullest extent, but also sees the tragedy in the deaths of the Palestinian people of the Gaza territory. As a mother, my heart aches for the mothers who have lost their children; for all of those who are innocent who have lost their loved ones during this conflict. But as you lead a campaign to investigate war crime charges against Israel, I must ask you to consider — aren’t you pointing your finger in the wrong direction? 

You know the facts. Yet you and the Human Rights Council seem to be blind to the fact that Hamas should be investigated for putting their own people in harm's way.  It’s so simple, and, therefore, so hard to understand why you are moving in the direction that you are.

If you look throughout history, no other country has ever behaved during times of war as Israel has during this operation. When has any other country repeatedly provided a warning to the civilians of the opposing country in advance of an attack?

And during this conflict, has Hamas once sent any sort of warning to Israeli civilians to let them know to get out of harm's way? Over the years, when Gazans have sent rockets over the border to Sderot, were they targeting Israeli military or citizens? There were no warnings there, either.

Once a rocket has been spotted over Israel, an alarm is sounded and Israelis have seconds to get to their bomb shelters.  Even though the Iron Dome is very effective, rockets have gotten through.  Please allow me to point out that if Israel hadn’t invested in creating the Iron Dome, as well as bomb shelters, there would be hundreds, if not thousands, of Israeli citizen deaths of all ages, and no advance warnings from Hamas.  So, who is committing war crimes?

Please allow me to list why Hamas should be your focus regarding war crimes against its own people.  I’m not telling you anything you don’t know, which is why I’m so confused about your choices:

  • Hamas has stored munitions and rockets in the homes and public buildings of its communities, including U.N. schools, rather than in separate facilities away from communities.
  • Hamas has encouraged citizens to stay in their homes rather than leave to escape oncoming fire from Israel, despite those advance warnings.
  • Hamas has used its limited financial resources to build tunnels into Israel and Egypt for purposes of military conflict, rather than build bomb shelters to protect its citizens, knowing that there would certainly be conflict in the future. The extent that Hamas has built these tunnels shows that it could have built many bomb shelters.

Commissioner Pillay, this is yet another conflict in an ongoing war.  Typically and sadly, citizens of all ages die during wars.  It is the responsibility of each country to protect its own against the enemy.

Hamas has shown that it is not doing so. It has shown that its interests are purely military and self-obsessed.  It has shown that its citizens are not worth investing in. Hamas has done nothing to give Israel, or many other Arab nations, the reassurance that it is trustworthy and therefore capable of providing its own citizens with the freedoms they rightfully deserve as human beings.

Why is Israel being investigated for war crimes? Please, Commissioner Pillay, the United Nations Human Rights Council needs to turn around and point those fingers in the opposite direction.

Thank you so much for your time in reading this.  I truly hope that you will consider my one voice of reason as you move forward.

Sharon Ritz lives in Cherry Hill, N.J.

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