Even better, he was speaking with members of the U.S. liberal group J Street.
Last week, on a student tour of the UN Human Rights Office in Ramallah, Deputy Head of Office Saul Takahashi made a number of alarming comments about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Now, of course the UN has a long history of officials with biased opinions in “impartial” positions, such as Richard Falk.
Unfortunately, Saul Takahashi might be another name to add to the list.
Takahashi took time out of his busy schedule to meet with the J Street U group (the student branch of the American lobbying group J Street) last Friday, and was supposed to provide a brief overview of his duties at the UN, but instead gave a one sided take on what Israel and settlers are doing in the Palestinian territories (however, given the UNHRC’s record, maybe that is his duty).
Takahashi’s statements ranged from housing demolitions to settler violence to detention of terrorists, and while few would argue the situation is ideal on either side, Takahashi really only condemned one: Israel.
One of the first questions put to Takahashi was a request to give examples of settler violence in the West Bank, where the UNHR office has mandate from the UN Human Rights Council to document violations. He said the following: “Settler violence…
range[s] from mass-settlers going to the nearest Palestinian town burning cars, beating people up and shooting people, to, in the middle of the night, settlers going to olive groves and cutting down trees.”
Takahashi continued: “There is no serious data on the proportion of the Israeli settlers that are whackedout extremists, it just doesn’t exist,” and “The best data… is Peace Now’s sort of assessment, which goes settlement by settlement.
…[A]nd classifies the settlements by ‘This is a predominantly whacked-out national-religious settlement, or this is an economic, quality of life-settlement.’” While Takahashi admitted that the vast majority of settlers (70-75 percent, he claims) are “for the most part, generally, not engaging in violence,” he then elaborated on this point further, saying, “The mass-settlers coming out with shotguns and shooting people up, this is a little bit less in east Jerusalem, it’s more way out in the ‘Wild West.’” Of course, this implies that there are in fact settlers who regularly go out and shoot people for fun, or with no apparent cause.