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Friday, March 23, 2012

Obama's 'human rights council'

When Harry S. Truman was President of the United States, he used to have a sign on his desk that said "the buck stops here." Perhaps it was because of that commitment that Truman was willing to overlook the advice he was receiving to become the first head of state to recognize the newly declared State of Israel within minutes of Israel's declaration of Independence on May 14, 1948.

This evening, I have been reporting on the creation by the United Nations 'human rights council' of a 'fact-finding' mission that is meant to probe the effects of Israel's 'settlement policy' on the 'Palestinians.' I always place the term 'human rights council' in scare quotes because the council is a sham. It does not protect human rights. Instead, it enables human rights violators to cloak themselves in a false sanctity while abusing their own citizenry. Worse, it enables them to piously accuse Israel - by far the most democratic state in an undemocratic part of the world - of the very same things they are doing to their own populations.

This past month, the council has been meeting in Geneva. Aside from creating the 'fact-finding' mission, the council glossed over Syria's and Iran's murdering their respective citizens, and provided a forum for Hamas to tout its human rights record.

None of this would matter nearly as much as it does had the Obama administration not granted legitimacy to the council by joining it. In addition to providing 22% of the council's Israel-bashing budget, the administration has put the United States in the embarrassing position of having its own human rights record examined by the likes of Saudi Arabia, North Korea and Cuba. That should have been enough to convince any normal country to walk out.

Obama insisted that by joining the council, the United States would be able to effect change from within. But Thursday's 36 votes in favor of creating the 'fact-finding' mission and ten abstentions, with the United States being the sole vote against, shows once again that the council is incorrigible, and that Obama's refusal to withdraw (and insistence on announcing that he is running again for a seat before the US election in November, and long before the US's term is up) shows Obama to be a bull-headed ideologue who is incapable of change.

Before they vote in November, the American people need to think long and hard about what four more years on the 'human rights council' will do for America's credibility and standing in the world.

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