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Monday, March 02, 2009

US to join UN 'Human Rights Council'?

At the Spectator, Melanie Philips says that when it withdrew from the 'Durban conference' on Friday, the Obama administration may have thrown a huge bone to the Israel bashing 'human rights' groups in charge of the conference (Hat Tip: Shy Guy).

By Friday evening, when the US published its official statement on the matter, the fog had deepened further still. As Anne Bayefsky – the UN watcher whose single-handed efforts in blowing the whistle on Durban 2 and America’s manoeuvrings must take much of the credit for the pressure applied to the US over its participation – has now pointed out in an article for Forbes, the statement said:

...‘the United States will not ... participate in a conference based on this text,’ but we will ‘re-engage if a document that meets [our] criteria becomes the basis for deliberations.’ A new version must be: ‘shorter,’ ‘not reaffirm in toto the flawed 2001 Durban Declaration,’ ‘not single out any one country or conflict,’ and not embrace the troubling concept of ‘defamation of religion.’ And by the way, it continued, the U.S. will ‘participate’ for the first time in the U.N. Human Rights Council.

Those two words ’in toto’ leave the door ajar for the Israel-bashers to find a way round the US insistence that there can be no singling out of any one country, while fulfilling the remit of 'Durban 2' to ‘reaffirm’ the 2001 Durban Declaration which singled out Israel for defamation as a racist state. Bayefsky reports that, after US officials told Jewish groups US participation was over while assuring the Israel-bashers it was looking for ways to 're-engage', the bashers are furious; tellingly,

Peggy Hicks from HRW [Human Rights Watch] complained that insisting on ‘no reference to a single country or conflict is very problematic and destructive to the Durban Review process.’

Whoops, what a giveaway. To Human Rights Watch, the Durban Review process is all about singling out one particular country. No prizes for guessing which one, eh, Peggy?

So to keep the Israel-destroyers sweet, Obama has thrown them a bone. A big fat juicy one. The US may not be going back into the 'Durban 2 'process, but it will go one better – it will re-enter the Human Rights Council itself as an observer and will stand for election to it. Until now it was boycotting the council precisely because the connection with ‘human rights’ of a body whose members are overwhelmingly not democracies and which include China, Saudi Arabia and Cuba is a sick joke – and because its overwhelming purpose is to delegitimise Israel and engineer its destruction. Accordingly, it singles out Israel for (unwarranted) vilification while ignoring real human rights abuses elsewhere. As Bayefsky observes:

The Council -- controlled by the Organization of the Islamic Conference -- has adopted more condemnations of Israel than all other 191 U.N. states combined, while terminating human rights investigations on the likes of Iran, Cuba and Belarus. Obama’s move denies the opportunity to leverage the prospect of American membership to insist on reform.

The Obama administration reminds me of a child who has been warned again and again not to touch a hot stove but keeps insisting on touching it anyway to see how long he can get away with it. The problem is not so much that the child might eventually conclude that he can hold onto the stove as it is the damage the child will inflict upon himself - and those around him - by insisting on trying the same foolishness over and over again. After Durban I, it was not Israel that suffered but the United States. Within days after Durban I concluded, the US was hit by the 9/11 attacks.

When the Bush administration decided not to go into the 'Human Rights Council,' it was a decision that was not taken lightly. The issue was studied carefully, and it was only after careful consideration of the Council's methods and procedures that the administration reached the conclusion that this was not where the US belonged. There were a lot of reasons not to go into the Council that had nothing to do with Israel. The US anticipated that it too would be the target of attacks in the Council, and not just for supporting Israel. Consider the following:
The United Nations is electing a new 'Human Rights Council' today, which is meant to replace its old 'Human Rights Commission,' which had ceased to function. The reason that the Commission had ceased to function was that human rights violators had come to realize that they could avoid accountability by becoming commission members and then diverting attention away from their violations. The principle diversionary tactic was to focus on Israel. Of the commission's two agenda items dealing with country-specific human rights violations, one was reserved solely for Israel, while the other was meant to cover the rest of the world.

Unfortunately, according to David Matas writing in the Ottawa Citizen, the new Human Rights Council is not likely to do any better.
And consider this:
Anne Bayefsky, who runs a web site that monitors the UN (among her many positions), sounds like she is about to give up on the UN as well. What's got her ire up is that the UN's new and improved Human Rights Council looks remarkably similar to its old Human Rights Commission. With human rights violators like Cuba, Russia and Saudi Arabia (where just yesterday women were finally allowed to work in lingerie shops!) all being elected for three-year terms and with 21 of its 47 members being "not free" according to Freedom House's 2006 annual report the council is truly a mockery of human rights.
The US staying out of the 'Human Rights Council' three years wasn't just about Israel. It was about the fact that the Council's makeup and procedures ensured that it would not focus on the vast majority of human rights' violations throughout the world. Given that the Council was just a cover for human rights violations, the US correctly decided to have nothing to do with it.

Now, the Obama administration, afflicted with Bush Derangement Syndrome, is insisting on re-examining undoing every decision the Bush administration made. And when it comes to Israel, the rule is that if changing it would be anti-Israel, the Left wants it changed. It's a lousy basis for making policy.


Here's more from Anne Bayefsky on Obama's double dealing on human rights:
In fact, Obama's four deal-breakers do not include many other troubling provisions still on Durban II's negotiating table. These include: questioning the veracity of the Holocaust, a variety of attacks on freedom of expression in addition to "defamation of religion," and incendiary claims of "Islamophobia"--the general allegation of a racist Western plot to discriminate against all Muslims.

The administration's decision to slip in the Human Rights Council as a consolation prize for Durban enthusiasts is an attempt to downplay a major move. State Department officials intimated that they intend not only to observe but to run for a seat--subject to the "likelihood of successful elections." Council members and human rights gurus, like China, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, are sure to welcome the instant legitimacy provided by U.S. participation. The Council--controlled by the Organization of the Islamic Conference--has adopted more condemnations of Israel than all other 191 U.N. states combined, while terminating human rights investigations on the likes of Iran, Cuba and Belarus. Obama's move denies the opportunity to leverage the prospect of American membership to insist on reform.

Whether Obama actually stays away from Durban II is most likely to depend on his cost-benefit analysis of sacrificing Israel vs. heeding the siren's call to engage. My guess is he'll take the loss in the engagement column on Durban and the Israel column on the Council. Who said the human rights business had anything to do with human rights?
And you thought the Democrats were the party that's concerned about human rights. You were wrong. When you add this to Chas Freeman's record on China, you have to wonder just whose human rights concern Obama. Oh, I almost forgot. Human rights don't matter in this administration. They can be traded away for anything that's anti-Israel.


At 12:15 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Carl - whatever the the US does, Israel CAN leave the UN. What earthly reason is there for the Jewish State to remain in a viper's nest of anti-Semites? That's like Jews attending a Nazi Party rally in the 30s or a Ku Klux Klan march in the 50s. Its absurd!

At 2:37 PM, Blogger ledger said...

Obama is an expert at deception. The Jewish vote means nothing to him now that the elections are over. I think it is safe to say that Jews has been deceived. Obama has control of the MSM thus any reports are suspect. Do not trust Obama.

At 3:18 PM, Blogger Carl in Jerusalem said...


Yes, I think it's called taqiyya.


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