Resources updated between Monday, October 18, 2010 and Sunday, October 24, 2010
October 22, 2010
Thursday, October 21, 2010
This article by Anne Bayefsky originally appeared on Weekly Standard.com.
As the American midterm election campaigns head to the finish line, the Obama administration is trying to convince Jewish voters that its treatment of Israel is not as hostile as it appears. In fact, it's worse. The U.S. State Department has now adopted a practice honed by Israel's Arab negotiating partners – saying different things to different audiences. The State Department is distributing for American consumption speeches that it claims were delivered in Israel's defense at the recent session of the U.N. Human Rights Council. But the remarks American diplomats actually delivered to the U.N. audience, which President Obama so desperately seeks to impress, were strikingly different.
The foreign policy deception involves the U.N. Human Rights Council, which the president decided to join soon after taking office. At the beginning of October the Human Rights Council concluded its fifteenth session, marking the end of a full year of American membership on the U.N.'s lead human rights body. U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva, Eileen Donahoe marked the occasion by declaring that the Human Rights Council had "made historic progress...in advancing the rights of human rights defenders throughout the world." But her claim turns on the virtue of legitimizing the demonization of Israel in favor of other people's human rights.
At this latest session, the Human Rights Council had before it two extraordinarily ugly reports condemning Israel. One was aimed at keeping alive last year's Goldstone Report, a modern-day blood libel alleging that the 2009 Gaza war was not fought in self-defense but was a deliberate move by Israel to murder Palestinian civilians. The new report, produced for this session, repeats the odious claim that Israel engaged in "violence against civilians as part of a deliberate policy" and goes on to criticize Israel's legal system for failing to mount a witch hunt for "officials at the highest levels." Referring to the Hamas internal "investigation," which repeatedly exonerated itself from all wrongdoing, the U.N.'s team could only conclude that it "is not in a position to ascertain the veracity of any of these assertions." It was produced by a committee chaired by German lawyer Christian Tomuschat, who once provided legal advice to Yasser Arafat's PLO.
When it came time for the Human Rights Council to take up the report the Obama administration sought to manufacture a middle ground. Knowing that the committee's mandate was to implement the infamous conclusions of the Goldstone Report, Ambassador Donahoe told the Human Rights Council on September 27: "We appreciate that the Tomuschat Committee did not jump to conclusions..." She also praised the committee on the grounds that it "did not recommend any further UN action," despite the fact that the report was written so that it would guarantee the committee's reappointment. Indeed, the Tomuschat committee was reappointed together "with all administrative, technical and logistic assistance" they could dream of, shortly thereafter.
Then Ambassador Donahoe varied her speech from the version now gracing the State Department website. She dropped these words: "Because Israel has the right and the demonstrated ability to conduct credible investigations and serious self-scrutiny, further follow-up of the Goldstone Report by UN bodies is unnecessary and unwarranted."
This was not a one-off occurrence. The second Israel-bashing report before the Human Rights Council had been commissioned last June following the flotilla incident, in which 9 Turkish-backed extremists died after they tried to ram an Israeli blockade of Hamas-run Gaza. The Human Rights Council "investigation," created within 48 hours of the incident, was carried out by a carefully selected three-person group that included one Desmond de Silva. De Silva had jointly headed a British law office with a Palestinian legal advisor, and their law practice had hosted the legal team supporting a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state. De Silva was unabashed about his predilection to grease legal wheels for terrorists. He told the Human Rights Council on September 28: "[E]ven if Bin Laden himself was on board the Mavi Marmara" – the vessel on which the deaths occurred – "it wouldn't have made the blockade legal."
The flotilla investigative group that included de Silva said it couldn't trust Israeli video evidence of the incident, and called the thugs who nearly murdered Israeli soldiers "persons genuinely committed to the spirit of humanitarianism." These "experts" couldn't think of a single "military advantage" for the Israeli blockade – a key test in determining whether Israel's action was legal – though the blockade obviously prevents the creation of an Iranian weapons depot on the Mediterranean a few miles from Israeli population centers. Instead, they produced the usual U.N. laundry list of wild accusations and demands, such as prosecuting Israelis for torture. Hamas immediately "hailed the contents of the report...on the massacre perpetrated by the Zionist forces against international activists on board the fleet of freedom."
When this despicable report came to the Human Rights Council for discussion, the State Department website claims Ambassador Donahoe delivered a speech, saying: "We have received the lengthy report of the fact-finding mission. We are concerned by the report's unbalanced language, tone and conclusions." But on September 28 what she actually said to the Council was this: "On an initial reading, we are concerned by the report's unbalanced language, tone and conclusions."
And again on September 27, the State Department gave the U.N. a Donahoe speech to post on the U.N. website which includes an important defense of Israel – all of which was omitted from her actual delivery:
A Tale of Two Galloways Article
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
This article by Anne Bayefsky originally appeared on National Review Online.
As gross human-rights violations continue to plague much of our planet, the U.N.'s lead human-rights body, the Human Rights Council, remains fixated on Israel, leaving the Obama administration in need of a strategy for justifying its policy of "engagement," and particularly American membership in the HRC. The new strategy of choice? Misrepresentation. The State Department has posted on its website an account, photo and all, of HRC action on an egregious human-rights violation - action that didn't happen.
Soon after he took office, President Obama decided the United States should join the HRC. On October 1, the last day of the HRC's most recent session, the United States' U.N. mission to Geneva issued a press release heralding the administration's engagement approach. Ambassador Eileen Donahoe, who chaired the finance committee of National Women for Obama during the 2008 campaign, is quoted as declaring that the council has "made historic progress . . . in advancing the rights of human-rights defenders throughout the world." But her sales pitch depends on a serious distortion of events.
By the time this "historic" session advancing human rights had ended, the council had spent the same amount of time on its agenda item devoted entirely to Israel-bashing as on its single agenda item on all the "human-rights situations that require the Council's attention" anywhere else in the world. Tallying all the resolutions that the Council adopted targeting any of the 192 U.N. member states, there were two resolutions condemning Israel, one resolution on "assistance" to Somalia, one on "advisory services and technical assistance" to Cambodia, and one "congratulat[ing] the Government and the people of the Sudan for . . . the April 2010 elections." Those were the widely criticized elections that handed President Bashir another term after 21 years in office, notwithstanding that he has been indicted for genocide by the International Criminal Court.
Justifying American membership on the council and the legitimization that U.S. membership brings is, therefore, a challenge. But few would have expected that the administration would attempt to meet that challenge by leading the American public to believe the council had held a meeting to respond to a terrible human-rights violation - when in fact no such meeting had taken place.
Since late July, gang rapes have been systematically carried out in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and impunity for the rapists has been standard practice. The attackers are mostly members of rebel militias, but government troops have also been implicated. Victims have included baby boys and women aged 110. U.N. peacekeepers stationed just 20 miles away, and warned of impending violence, did nothing to stop 240 rapes over a four-day period in early August. Given what we know about the council's routine in the case of Israel, it could have held a special session, or held an urgent debate during September's regular session, or started an investigation, or adopted a resolution condemning the atrocities and demanding that the perpetrators be prosecuted.
The council did none of the above. On September 27, two months after the attacks began, it held an "informal dialogue" on the DRC during a lunch hour. The meeting was not listed in the U.N. bulletin that is supposed to provide notice of informal meetings. The council president gave just 15 minutes' advance notification of the event, which was deliberately organized to take place outside the council chamber. This meant there was no webcasting service, no recording of the event, and no U.N. press release summarizing it. The DRC minister on human rights and justice, who had originally indicated he would come, did not show up; thus the so-called dialogue was held without the representative of the state involved. To put it in perspective, a lunch meeting on systematic mass rapes had less status than the lunch meeting organized a few weeks earlier with plenty of notice in the U.N. bulletin on "Non-State Service Provision in Water and Sanitation."
But here is how the Obama administration scriptwriters rewrote it. The U.S. mission to Geneva issued a press release with the title: "United States Welcomes Engagement by Human Rights Council on Abuses in DRC." The press release included a large file photo of a full meeting in the council chamber - though the "informal dialogue" had deliberately not been scheduled in that chamber.
Human Rights Council - Archive Photo
October 19, 2010
October 18, 2010