GENEVA – Some 1,000 participants from a dozen countries, including Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, and Switzerland, gathered in Geneva this afternoon to express their support for the State of Israel as the United Nations Human Rights Council held another debate on Israel and on the Commission of Inquiry report into the 2014 Gaza conflict. Members and supporters of more than 80 NGOs, including many Jews and Christians, traveled to the Swiss city to express their support for the Jewish state and to urge the UN to treat Israel fairly.
In his speech to the rally, World Jewish Congress (WJC) CEO Robert Singer said: “The reason we are here today is to tell the United Nations that it needs to change. It needs to overcome its obsession with Israel. This obsession is destructive and it stands in the way of an effective human rights policy that is so badly needed.” Singer insisted that Israel had a right to defend itself against Hamas. “Gaza is still an occupied territory, but the occupier is not Israel. It’s a terrorist movement called Hamas.” He added: “That’s because blaming Israel for every woe has become a sport. Not just here at the UN, but here especially.”
Ofir Libstein, a resident of Kibbutz Kfar Azza, which is one kilometer away from the Gaza Strip, described the impact of the constant rocket fire from Gaza on his family: “My four little sons were born into a 15-second reality: the time between the rocket alert and the explosion. When they turned two, we had already trained them to run for cover.” Libstein added: “Nitzan, my 11-year-old, was waiting for his soccer training to begin when a rocket attack started. Ever since, he cannot sleep by himself. Every alert and every explosion makes him relive the attack.”
Adele Raemer, a resident of Kibbutz Nirim, described how the residents at the kibbutz were nearly murdered a year when terrorists emerged from an attack tunnel. She said: “I am disappointed by the tone at times of the Human Rights Council which insinuates that Israel does not demand accountability from her army. I know that in the process of protecting my community, our soldiers have put their lives at risk to save innocent Palestinian lives, aborting vital missions when non-combatant Palestinians were in harm’s way.” Raemer added: “We all need to be able to raise the next generation to respect our neighbors, not fear them. This is clearly not a conflict that can be resolved by weapons. It can only be resolved by courageous leaders and diplomacy.”
Other speakers at the rally included Colonel Richard Kemp, from British forces commander in Afghanistan, Dr. Gregory Laffite of the European Coalition for Israel, Anne Arfi of the Swiss Jewish community, the Italian journalist Giuliano Ferrara, and Israel’s ambassador to Switzerland, Yigal Caspi.
About the World Jewish Congress:
The World Jewish Congress (WJC) is the international organization representing Jewish communities in 100 countries to governments, parliaments and international organizations.
The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs is the advocacy agent of the Jewish Federations of Canada. We are a national, non-profit, non-partisan organization tasked with advancing the public policy interests of Canada’s Jewish community. CIJA is the Canadian affiliate of the World Jewish Congress.