Resources updated between Monday, February 20, 2017 and Sunday, February 26, 2017
February 26, 2017
The U.N. "Human Rights" Council starts its main annual session on Monday in Geneva with elected members and human-rights aficionados such as Saudi Arabia, China, and Qatar settling into their seats. The question hanging over the head of President Trump is whether his administration will take its place beside these other states and legitimize the most anti-Israel, twisted bastion of moral relativism in the U.N. system.
Barack Obama deliberately designed a quicksand trap before leaving office. He put the U.S. forward for Human Rights Council membership in a U.N. election that occurred just ten days before the American presidential election. Attempting to rule from the grave, Obama knew full well that the U.S. would be occupying a three-year spot that officially commenced on January 1, 2017. The Bush administration had refused to join the Council, or to pay for it, when the Council was first created as a faux renovation of the discredited U.N. Human Rights Commission back in 2006. Joining the Council was one of Obama's very first foreign-policy moves in 2009.
The only way out of the quagmire for the Trump administration, therefore, is to resign.
The State Department's Obama holdovers are pushing hard for the status quo. State Department spokesman Mark Toner told Politico: "Our delegation will be fully involved in the work of the HRC session which starts Monday." This result would be the very opposite of draining the swamp.
Moreover, the only survivors in the U.N. Human Rights Council swamp are the crocodiles. There is a permanent agenda of ten items that governs proceedings at every Council session. One agenda item is devoted to human-rights violations by Israel and one generic agenda item is for all other 192 U.N. member states that might be found to "require the Council's attention." In classic State Department double-talk, the Obama administration promised that by joining the Council, the U.S. could reform the Council agenda from the inside. The Obama administration tried and predictably failed. But the Obama administration then justified staying on the Council - despite back-of-the-bus treatment for the Jewish state - as a price worth paying for other people's human rights. Pitting minorities against each other was, after all, an Obama specialty.
Every year at the Council's main March session, the Council's Israel agenda item gives rise to four or five resolutions condemning Israel. That is four or five times more than the Council condemns any other state on the planet. Ten years of Council practice incontrovertibly indicates that we can expect a small handful of other countries to be subject to a single resolution and that about 95 percent of states can count on none at all.
Fully aware of this scenario, the Obama routine went like this. The United States would vote against the anti-Israel resolutions, often 46 to 1, with slight variations for the times that European Union states screwed up the courage to abstain. Team Obama would make a nice speech for public consumption about supposedly unacceptable bias against Israel at the U.N. and then turn around and spend American taxpayer dollars to implement those very resolutions.
The quandary cannot be avoided: Is the Obama strategy going to be the Trump team plan? There is no middle ground. Staying on the Council means paying for the Council.
A 2016 Council resolution calls for the creation of a blacklist of all companies that are connected with or do business with so-called Israeli settlements "directly or indirectly." Not surprisingly, the Council has no comparable boycott scheme for the world's most heinous regimes. The boycott plot is a full-scale assault intended to strangle Israel economically, in order to compensate for successive failed attempts since 1948 by Israel's enemies to annihilate the Jewish state on the actual battlefield. American companies that do business with Israel are clearly in the Council's crosshairs.
The current Council session will reaffirm the blacklist initiative, and various other regular absurdities, such as demanding a return of the Golan Heights to "the Syrian motherland" in order to better protect Syrian human rights. In light of the Council's composition, there is no chance whatsoever of reversing the outcomes. Merely to whine while being outvoted by a majority of states, for which Israel is either an enemy or a convenient diversionary tactic, would legitimize the vehicle attacking American corporations for doing business with Israel - and our fundamental principles.
Substituting a Human Rights "Council" for a Human Rights "Commission" that retains the same fatal flaws - starting with membership for the quintessential very bad dudes - is the classic example of what the U.N., and the Obama administration, have meant by "reform." Will the Trump administration follow suit and make yet another speech about fixing the unfixable?
February 25, 2017
February 24, 2017
ISIS Burns Christian Alive in Egypt Document
February 23, 2017
Why We Should Defund The UN Article
February 22, 2017
To most observers, nothing stood out about Dorsa Derakhshani last month when she competed at the Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival. The 18-year-old female grand master fared fine on the board, twice using the Four Knights defense, and looked like any other teenager you might see in the British territory that borders southern Spain.
But to the head of the Iranian Chess Federation, Derakhshani practically committed an act of treason.
Mehrdad Pahlevanzadeh didn't have a problem with Derakhshani's play, but her headwear. Derakhshani wore a simple headband in her long hair, instead of a hijab, Iran's traditional headscarf, which became a compulsory accessory for women after the 1979 revolution. As a result, Pahlevanzadeh announced on Monday that Derakhshani would be kicked off the national team.
Derakhshani's younger brother Borna, 15, who also entered the tournament, was also kicked off the team. His offense was agreeing to play an Israeli opponent, a strict no-no in the country that doesn't recognize Israel as a state.
"Unfortunately, what shouldn't have happened has happened," Pahlevanzadeh told the semiofficial Fars News Agency on Monday (via Radio Free Europe). "Our national interests have priority over everything."
"As a first step, these two will be denied entry to all tournaments taking place in Iran," he continued, "And, in the name of Iran, they will no longer be allowed the opportunity to be present on the national team."
Neither sibling has commented publicly on the news.
That the two young chess masters received such a harsh punishment is not a surprise. Sports in Iran and other parts of the Middle East have long been affected by the region's strict cultural norms and precarious political stance.
Last year, American chess master Nazi Paikidze did not compete in the chess world championships in Iran because of the country's requirement that she don a hijab.
"Some consider a hijab part of culture," Paikidze said in an Instagram post announcing her decision. "But, I know that a lot of Iranian women are bravely protesting this forced law daily and risking a lot by doing so. That's why I will NOT wear a hijab and support women's oppression."
The hijab made different headlines earlier in the year, however, when U.S. fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad became the first American to win a medal wearing the traditional headscarf. Muhammad earned a bronze in the team saber event alongside hijab-less athletes Monica Aksamit, Dagmara Wozniak and Mariel Zagunis.
"I have to challenge this idea that in some way we don't belong because of our race or our religion," Muhammad, whose parents converted to Islam before Muhammed was born, said last year.
She added: "Like within any religion, Muslims have conservatives, we have liberals, and we have everything in between. To paint all Muslims with one broad stroke can be frustrating."
An Iranian semi-official news agency is quoting a Revolutionary Guard commander alleging that a U.S. permanent resident sentenced to 10 years in prison in Iran confessed he tried to "encourage decadence" in the Iranian society.
Nizar Zakka, a Lebanese with resident status in the United States, disappeared in September 2015 during a trip to Iran to attend a conference.
It wasn't possible to independently confirm the alleged confession. Zakka's supporters deny accusations he is a spy and note he was invited to Tehran by the government.
The Mehr news agency Wednesday quoted Gen. Sayyari of the Guard's intelligence service, as saying that Zakka tried to corrupt "Iranian women and families." The general was not identified by his first name.
Zakka was sentenced to 10 years and a $4.2 million fine.
February 21, 2017
February 20, 2017