The sea is the same sea, Hamas is the same Hamas, and the U.N. is the same U.N. Well, maybe not the entire U.N. (whose leader put in overtime hours in our region this week in an effort to achieve a cease-fire) remains the same, but the U.N. Human Rights Council has not changed a bit.
The council, which was established on the ruins of the U.N. Commission on Human Rights, did not in recent months protest the ongoing mass murder in Syria. Neither has it condemned Hamas' use of babies and hospitals as a human shield for its rocket launchers which target Israeli civilians. The council has had more "important" issues to deal with: condemning IDF actions against terrorist tunnels and setting up a commission of inquiry into alleged Israeli "war crimes." What can you expect from council whose members include "exemplary human rights defenders" such as China, Russia and Saudi Arabia, not to mention Libya and North Korea?
Unlike the U.N. Security Council, the U.N. Human Rights Council has no real teeth. In contrast to the International Criminal Court in The Hague, decisions of the Human Rights Council cannot lead to the arrest of Israeli soldiers. The council's decisions rouse a chuckle from seasoned diplomats who take the U.N. seriously in other contexts.
The council's decisions are predetermined and Israel is the main focus of them. From Operation Cast Lead and the subsequent Goldstone report to the current Operation Protective Edge, Israel is always accused of committing "war crimes" when it attempts to defend its citizens. The council may have no teeth, but it does have a voice, amplified by a big megaphone. The council does not have the power to impose sanctions, but its spokespeople are skilled at spewing venom and sowing hatred.
In Israel's early years, Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion coined the dismissive phrase "Um shmum" ("Um" is the Hebrew acronym for the U.N.). "It doesn't matter what the goyim say, but what the Jews do," Ben-Gurion said. This view is no longer accepted by all. But even in the cynical world in which we live, those who give certain U.N. decisions diplomatic and even legal weight do not take the Human Rights Council seriously. The council is like a jack-in-the-box that automatically condemns Israel before even hearing what is being discussed. Like a pesky fly, the council is little annoying, but certainly not a major cause for concern.