Wiesenthal Centre to UN Human Rights Commissioner: "Your visit to Israel and the Palestinian Territories excludes the Hezbollah blitzed North. At the very least, include the Sderot victims of Hamas rockets in the South.
Otherwise, it will be perceived that Jewish human rights do not count."

Paris, 8 November 2006

In a letter to United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre’s Director for International Relations, Dr Shimon Samuels, recalled that "on 19 September, our delegation met with you in your office to discuss Hezbollah’s human rights violations against Israeli civilians during this summer’s war… Our Centre’s Associate Dean, Rabbi Abraham Cooper, and myself were accompanied by Mayor Shlomo Bohbut of the twin Jewish-Arab Galillee city of Maalot, and Naharyah Western Galillee Hospital Vice-President, Dr Normann Loberant.

Both provided you with vivid illustrations of the physical damage and psychological trauma that their communities sustained under constant daily Katyusha rocket attack. Both invited you to visit them to meet with their constituents, in order to balance the one-sided versions of events propounded at the sessions of the Human Rights Council."

Samuels expressed astonishment that the High Commissioner’s "forthcoming visit to Israel and the Palestinian Territories, beginning on 19 November, will not include the Galillee which still smarts from the wounds of this summer’s blitz", and asked that she "note that a parallel situation exists today on Israel’s southern border with Gaza. As with Hezbollah, there it is Hamas that smuggles increasingly sophisticated weaponry from Egypt into Gaza, holds a kidnapped Israeli soldier, and each day fires rockets across the border into Israeli civilian centres, schools, and synagogues."

The letter continued, "In view of your programme’s exclusion of the North, we urge you, at the very least, to visit the village of Sderot to show your concern for its victims of human rights violations. Our Centre would be happy to arrange that the Mayor – a friend of our institution – host you, if only for a brief tour."

Samuels concluded, "failing such a visit, the value of your journey will be questioned, and a focus on only the Palestinian side of the victimology equation will, once again, endorse the perception that Jewish human rights do not count."

For further information, please contact Shimon Samuels at +33.609.77.01.58.