Western counters watchdog’s slam on prof

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The latest salvo launched against a Western law professor with a special United Nations human rights Middle East mandate didn’t even land at his feet.

This time UN Watch, a Geneva, Switzerland-based watchdog, bypassed Michael Lynk and sent a letter to his boss — Western University president Amit Chakma — demanding the university “cease and desist” by withdrawing an “in kind” $100,000 donation of research and administrative support plus office space.

UN Watch and its executive director Hillel Neurer see Lynk’s mandate as special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967 as “notoriously discriminatory,” “biased and anti-Israel.”

“Western’s support for this discriminatory and anti-human rights mandate constitutes a violation of the university’s Institutional Principles and Values — including those of ‘integrity,’ ‘fairness’ and the ‘commitment to serve the public good’— as well as its non-discrimination policy,” the letter stated.

While Lynk said Tuesday he only heard about the letter before it was sent to him by another contact, Chakma wrote late last week to Neurer reminding him that Western “embraces the principle of academic freedom.”

“(W)e uphold the right of all our academic community to speak and write freely, and we expect all who study, teach and do research at Western to uphold the highest details of scholarly responsibility.”

“This does not mean the university endorses the specific views and opinions of individual members of the academy, but we certainly defend their right to pursue their scholarly and extramural activities freely.”

That’s what Lynk, an internationally-recognized international law expert has been doing in his unpaid, part-time post since he was appointed 15 months ago to look into the 50-year Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territory.

The comments from UN Watch “doesn’t come as a surprise. . . . UN Watch does not have a high reputation among the international human rights community.”

“I’ve learned not to take these things personally,” Lynk said.

“I’ve had grief in various parts of this position since I assumed it 15 months ago, but it’s far outweighed by the gratitude and the learning curve I’ve been on,” he said, adding he had met “remarkable people in the human rights community.”

His analysis, he stressed, is the same as United Nations and the international community and formed by international humanitarian and human rights law and directed towards the “unrelenting 50-year occupation.”

“I’m not anti-Israel, I’m anti-occupation,” Lynk said. “I think most of the world would say they’re the same as well.”

“My mandate is to observe whether or not international humanitarian law and human rights law is being observed during the occupation.”

That mandate focuses on “Israel’s purported violations of international law in conducting the occupation” and added it’s under the purview of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Neurer, who was contacted by email, insisted Lynk’s UN mandate is “uniquely discriminatory.”

Unlike other UN mandates, Lynk’s directions is “the only mandate that expressly does not treat all human rights victims equally.”

“Israelis are subjected to overt discrimination. Palestinian terrorist attacks against Israelis . . . are disregarded under Lynk’s mandate, which focuses exclusively on ‘Israeli violations.’”


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