Commentary Magazine


Topic: Human Rights Council

The UN Farce Continues

Anne Bayefsky — who had a “j’accuse moment” and was roughed up by the UN thugs when she criticized the Goldstone Report before having her credentials snatched – reports on the latest outrage:

On Thursday, the General Assembly elected 14 members to its top human-rights body, the U.N. Human Rights Council. U.N. human-rights policymakers now include Libya, Angola, Malaysia, Qatar, and Uganda. On a secret ballot, a whopping 155 countries, or 80 percent of U.N. members, thought Libya would be a great addition.

Obama’s diplomats, sitting in the General Assembly Hall throughout the election, made no attempt to prevent the farce or even to object. On the contrary, Ambassador Susan Rice left the hall before the results were announced in order to hightail it to the microphone. Attempting to spin what was a foregone conclusion, she refused to divulge those states which the U.S. supported. When pressed, she said only that the Obama administration regretted some states on the ballot, but “I am not going to name names. I don’t think that it’s particularly constructive at this point.”

Which is worse — allowing another Muslim thugocracy into the clown show that is the Human Rights Council or the cowardice of Rice and the Obama team, which won’t come clean on precisely which thugocracies it is sucking up to? Rice’s remarks are beyond parody:

She described the countries on the Council — which include human-rights experts Saudi Arabia, China, and Cuba in addition to the incoming freshman class — as just “countries whose orientation and perspectives we don’t agree with.” And later on she described the election as one which “yielded an outcome that we think is a good reflection on the potential of the Human Rights Council.”

Rice was also asked to defend last month’s deal, made with the help of the Obama administration, which saw Iran withdraw its candidacy for the Council in exchange for a seat on the UN’s Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). With no apparent sign of embarrassment, she responded that Iran had been on the CSW before, so it “was not something new.”

Bayefsky gets one thing wrong, however, when she writes: “The fact that the Council’s main priority is to demonize Israel and keep the spotlight off abominations around the world has had no impact on Obama’s calculations.” One can’t help but conclude it is because the council’s main function is to Israel-bash that a seat means so much to the despotic regimes and, in turn, becomes a trinket that the Obama team can dispense to get on the good side of Israel’s foes.

When Hillary Clinton delivered her disingenuous speech at AIPAC earlier in the year, she had the nerve to assert that the “United States has also led the fight in international institutions against anti-Semitism and efforts to challenge Israel’s legitimacy.” And she threw in this doozy: “This Administration will always stand up for Israel’s right to defend itself.” Why then does the administration fund the UN Human Rights Council and sit idly by as one human rights abuser after another is added to the body? Rather than leading the fight on Israel’s behalf, the Obama team is facilitating it and providing cover for those who persistently challenge Israel’s legitimacy.

And the officialdom of American Jewry? Still sending bouquets to Obama for nominating a Jew to the Supreme Court.

Anne Bayefsky — who had a “j’accuse moment” and was roughed up by the UN thugs when she criticized the Goldstone Report before having her credentials snatched – reports on the latest outrage:

On Thursday, the General Assembly elected 14 members to its top human-rights body, the U.N. Human Rights Council. U.N. human-rights policymakers now include Libya, Angola, Malaysia, Qatar, and Uganda. On a secret ballot, a whopping 155 countries, or 80 percent of U.N. members, thought Libya would be a great addition.

Obama’s diplomats, sitting in the General Assembly Hall throughout the election, made no attempt to prevent the farce or even to object. On the contrary, Ambassador Susan Rice left the hall before the results were announced in order to hightail it to the microphone. Attempting to spin what was a foregone conclusion, she refused to divulge those states which the U.S. supported. When pressed, she said only that the Obama administration regretted some states on the ballot, but “I am not going to name names. I don’t think that it’s particularly constructive at this point.”

Which is worse — allowing another Muslim thugocracy into the clown show that is the Human Rights Council or the cowardice of Rice and the Obama team, which won’t come clean on precisely which thugocracies it is sucking up to? Rice’s remarks are beyond parody:

She described the countries on the Council — which include human-rights experts Saudi Arabia, China, and Cuba in addition to the incoming freshman class — as just “countries whose orientation and perspectives we don’t agree with.” And later on she described the election as one which “yielded an outcome that we think is a good reflection on the potential of the Human Rights Council.”

Rice was also asked to defend last month’s deal, made with the help of the Obama administration, which saw Iran withdraw its candidacy for the Council in exchange for a seat on the UN’s Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). With no apparent sign of embarrassment, she responded that Iran had been on the CSW before, so it “was not something new.”

Bayefsky gets one thing wrong, however, when she writes: “The fact that the Council’s main priority is to demonize Israel and keep the spotlight off abominations around the world has had no impact on Obama’s calculations.” One can’t help but conclude it is because the council’s main function is to Israel-bash that a seat means so much to the despotic regimes and, in turn, becomes a trinket that the Obama team can dispense to get on the good side of Israel’s foes.

When Hillary Clinton delivered her disingenuous speech at AIPAC earlier in the year, she had the nerve to assert that the “United States has also led the fight in international institutions against anti-Semitism and efforts to challenge Israel’s legitimacy.” And she threw in this doozy: “This Administration will always stand up for Israel’s right to defend itself.” Why then does the administration fund the UN Human Rights Council and sit idly by as one human rights abuser after another is added to the body? Rather than leading the fight on Israel’s behalf, the Obama team is facilitating it and providing cover for those who persistently challenge Israel’s legitimacy.

And the officialdom of American Jewry? Still sending bouquets to Obama for nominating a Jew to the Supreme Court.

Read Less

Flotsam and Jetsam

No kidding: “The White House was more focused on victory than on any plan in particular, and — once the battle had been engaged — than in the details of the plan,” writes Ben Smith on ObamaCare.

“No surprise,” says Glenn Reynolds about this: “College students taking racial and ethnic studies courses have lower respect for members of other groups.”

“No question,” says Nancy Pelosi about how voters are in an “anti-incumbent mood.” Actually, they seem to be especially aggrieved about Democratic incumbents — otherwise Democrats wouldn’t be at risk of losing control of the House.

No love among the Democratic base for party switcher Arlen Specter: he falls nine points behind Joe Sestak in the latest Suffolk University poll.

No relief for the Democrats in Illinois, as Mob banker Alexi Giannoulias declared that “we didn’t need wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.” I’m thinking Obama is going to write off this seat and not appear next to Giannoulias. Some candidates just can’t be saved, and why give the president’s 2012 opponent footage for campaign ads?

No indication that Republicans are extinct in New England: “The U.S. Senate race in New Hampshire looks largely the same way it has for months, with two of the three top Republican candidates holding double-digit leads over Democratic hopeful Paul Hodes. The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Voters in New Hampshire shows former state Attorney General Kelly Ayotte at 50% for the second month in a row, with Hodes earning 38% support. Three percent (3%) favor some other candidate, and nine percent(9%) are undecided.”

No better example of the farce that is the UN: Libya has been elected to the Human Rights Council.

No “reset” here: “Calling Hamas ‘a terror organization in every way,’ Israel’s Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday it was ‘deeply disappointed’ that [President Dmitry] Medvedev met the group’s exiled leader Khaled Meshal during a visit to Syria this week. Russia, the United States, European Union and the United Nations make up a quartet of Middle East mediators. The U.S., EU and Israel consider Hamas a terrorist group. Russia insists that Hamas should not be isolated.”

No love lost between Jeffrey Goldberg and the obsessed Beagle Blogger: Goldberg looks at “whether it is right for a journalist working for an institution that prides itself on careful journalism to float rumors about a public figure’s sexual orientation.” But if an institution houses such a “journalist,” does it really pride itself on careful journalism?

No kidding: “The White House was more focused on victory than on any plan in particular, and — once the battle had been engaged — than in the details of the plan,” writes Ben Smith on ObamaCare.

“No surprise,” says Glenn Reynolds about this: “College students taking racial and ethnic studies courses have lower respect for members of other groups.”

“No question,” says Nancy Pelosi about how voters are in an “anti-incumbent mood.” Actually, they seem to be especially aggrieved about Democratic incumbents — otherwise Democrats wouldn’t be at risk of losing control of the House.

No love among the Democratic base for party switcher Arlen Specter: he falls nine points behind Joe Sestak in the latest Suffolk University poll.

No relief for the Democrats in Illinois, as Mob banker Alexi Giannoulias declared that “we didn’t need wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.” I’m thinking Obama is going to write off this seat and not appear next to Giannoulias. Some candidates just can’t be saved, and why give the president’s 2012 opponent footage for campaign ads?

No indication that Republicans are extinct in New England: “The U.S. Senate race in New Hampshire looks largely the same way it has for months, with two of the three top Republican candidates holding double-digit leads over Democratic hopeful Paul Hodes. The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Voters in New Hampshire shows former state Attorney General Kelly Ayotte at 50% for the second month in a row, with Hodes earning 38% support. Three percent (3%) favor some other candidate, and nine percent(9%) are undecided.”

No better example of the farce that is the UN: Libya has been elected to the Human Rights Council.

No “reset” here: “Calling Hamas ‘a terror organization in every way,’ Israel’s Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday it was ‘deeply disappointed’ that [President Dmitry] Medvedev met the group’s exiled leader Khaled Meshal during a visit to Syria this week. Russia, the United States, European Union and the United Nations make up a quartet of Middle East mediators. The U.S., EU and Israel consider Hamas a terrorist group. Russia insists that Hamas should not be isolated.”

No love lost between Jeffrey Goldberg and the obsessed Beagle Blogger: Goldberg looks at “whether it is right for a journalist working for an institution that prides itself on careful journalism to float rumors about a public figure’s sexual orientation.” But if an institution houses such a “journalist,” does it really pride itself on careful journalism?

Read Less

Flotsam and Jetsam

Ouch: Charlie Crist’s campaign manager and handpicked Senate appointee dumps him.

Yikes (for Democrats): “Republican Congressman Mark Kirk has earned a modest pick-up in support, while his Democratic opponent, Alexi Giannoulias, appears stalled in the first Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Voters in the state following the government’s seizure of the failed Broadway Bank, the institution owned by Giannoulias’ family. Kirk now attracts 46% support in Illinois’ race for the U.S. Senate, up from 41% in early April.”

More yikes (for Democrats): “A new poll has businessman Tim Burns (R) leading former Murtha aide Mark Critz (D) 46-40. Republicans appear to have a real opportunity to take over the seat of the late Rep. John Murtha’s (D-Pa.), as another poll shows their candidate in the lead.”

Still: “Iran will never agree to exchange its low-level enriched uranium for nuclear fuel rods enriched abroad, a top adviser to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Friday.”

Bunk — is the claim that GM has paid back its taxpayer bailout, says Rep. Paul Ryan: “These claims struck me as odd and misleading. The federal government still owns over 60% of this auto company. This so-called repayment is actually a transfer of $6.7 billion from one taxpayer-funded bailout account to another.”

Fine: “Jewish groups are calling on U.N. member representatives to walk out in protest when Iran’s president speaks next week at the United Nations. Mahmoud Ahmadenijad’s plans to address the U.N. Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference on May 3 makes a mockery of the proceedings, Jewish groups said.” But why don’t they call for the administration to leave the Human Rights Council or the Commission on the Status of Women?

Uh-oh: “The nation’s gross domestic product, the value of all goods and services produced, grew at an annual rate of 3.2% after climbing 5.6% in the fourth quarter, the Commerce Department said Friday. That’s not nearly fast enough to bring down stubbornly high unemployment. In addition, threats ranging from turmoil in Europe to the difficulty smaller businesses face in borrowing money are clouding the prospects for continued recovery.”

Yup: “Crist still does not grasp that the country wants a check on Obama, not an enabler in Republican or independent skin. The backlash over spending, soaring debt, government take-over of major industries, and Obamacare calls for a new breed of GOP leaders who are unafraid to stand in the gap and stop the Obama agenda. Crist’s failure to understand that is what sunk his candidacy in the GOP and will likely do so in the general election.”

Ouch: Charlie Crist’s campaign manager and handpicked Senate appointee dumps him.

Yikes (for Democrats): “Republican Congressman Mark Kirk has earned a modest pick-up in support, while his Democratic opponent, Alexi Giannoulias, appears stalled in the first Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Voters in the state following the government’s seizure of the failed Broadway Bank, the institution owned by Giannoulias’ family. Kirk now attracts 46% support in Illinois’ race for the U.S. Senate, up from 41% in early April.”

More yikes (for Democrats): “A new poll has businessman Tim Burns (R) leading former Murtha aide Mark Critz (D) 46-40. Republicans appear to have a real opportunity to take over the seat of the late Rep. John Murtha’s (D-Pa.), as another poll shows their candidate in the lead.”

Still: “Iran will never agree to exchange its low-level enriched uranium for nuclear fuel rods enriched abroad, a top adviser to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Friday.”

Bunk — is the claim that GM has paid back its taxpayer bailout, says Rep. Paul Ryan: “These claims struck me as odd and misleading. The federal government still owns over 60% of this auto company. This so-called repayment is actually a transfer of $6.7 billion from one taxpayer-funded bailout account to another.”

Fine: “Jewish groups are calling on U.N. member representatives to walk out in protest when Iran’s president speaks next week at the United Nations. Mahmoud Ahmadenijad’s plans to address the U.N. Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference on May 3 makes a mockery of the proceedings, Jewish groups said.” But why don’t they call for the administration to leave the Human Rights Council or the Commission on the Status of Women?

Uh-oh: “The nation’s gross domestic product, the value of all goods and services produced, grew at an annual rate of 3.2% after climbing 5.6% in the fourth quarter, the Commerce Department said Friday. That’s not nearly fast enough to bring down stubbornly high unemployment. In addition, threats ranging from turmoil in Europe to the difficulty smaller businesses face in borrowing money are clouding the prospects for continued recovery.”

Yup: “Crist still does not grasp that the country wants a check on Obama, not an enabler in Republican or independent skin. The backlash over spending, soaring debt, government take-over of major industries, and Obamacare calls for a new breed of GOP leaders who are unafraid to stand in the gap and stop the Obama agenda. Crist’s failure to understand that is what sunk his candidacy in the GOP and will likely do so in the general election.”

Read Less

RE: RE: J Street Comes Clean

Noah, your apt comments are not limited to the J Street crowd. It seems that now is the time when many on the faux pro-Israel left dare to show their core beliefs. High on that list is that Israel is guilty of “war crimes” and that international bodies like the august Human Rights Council should intervene to prevent such “crimes” — i.e., prevent Israel from defending itself against terrorists who hide behind baby cribs and old women’s skirts. So we learn that Tikkun magazine will give its 25th annual ethics award next year to … ready? … none other than Richard Goldstone. “The politics of meaning” (New Age babble for the far-left agenda) guru and Tikkun founder Michael Lerner is pleased to honor such a man as Goldstone, whose shoddy libel against the IDF has long since been ably and completely demolished:

Tikkun’s founder and editor, Rabbi Michael Lerner, told JTA that the decision to recognize Goldstone was made prior to the bar mitzvah brouhaha and that the timing of the announcement was the result of his “outrageous” treatment by his fellow South African Jews.

Goldstone is doing a service “for the Jewish people in reinforcing the notion that our ethical judgments are not tied to blind support for any government,” Lerner said.

He said the award stems from Goldstone’s record on human rights and is a “reflection on his contribution to the Jewish people in affirming the independence of loyalty to the policies of the State of Israel.”

Translation: there is no higher achievement than betraying — with half-truths and outright lies — the Jewish state. I’m sure the J Street crowd will hoot and holler as Goldstone accepts the honor. After all, they had quite a hand in penning his defense. This then is the face of the not-at-all-pro-Israel left. It’s about time they showed what they are all about — delegitimizing and emasculating the Jewish state.

Noah, your apt comments are not limited to the J Street crowd. It seems that now is the time when many on the faux pro-Israel left dare to show their core beliefs. High on that list is that Israel is guilty of “war crimes” and that international bodies like the august Human Rights Council should intervene to prevent such “crimes” — i.e., prevent Israel from defending itself against terrorists who hide behind baby cribs and old women’s skirts. So we learn that Tikkun magazine will give its 25th annual ethics award next year to … ready? … none other than Richard Goldstone. “The politics of meaning” (New Age babble for the far-left agenda) guru and Tikkun founder Michael Lerner is pleased to honor such a man as Goldstone, whose shoddy libel against the IDF has long since been ably and completely demolished:

Tikkun’s founder and editor, Rabbi Michael Lerner, told JTA that the decision to recognize Goldstone was made prior to the bar mitzvah brouhaha and that the timing of the announcement was the result of his “outrageous” treatment by his fellow South African Jews.

Goldstone is doing a service “for the Jewish people in reinforcing the notion that our ethical judgments are not tied to blind support for any government,” Lerner said.

He said the award stems from Goldstone’s record on human rights and is a “reflection on his contribution to the Jewish people in affirming the independence of loyalty to the policies of the State of Israel.”

Translation: there is no higher achievement than betraying — with half-truths and outright lies — the Jewish state. I’m sure the J Street crowd will hoot and holler as Goldstone accepts the honor. After all, they had quite a hand in penning his defense. This then is the face of the not-at-all-pro-Israel left. It’s about time they showed what they are all about — delegitimizing and emasculating the Jewish state.

Read Less

Do We Ever Leave the Human Rights Council?

It is apparent that the U.S. is not playing any constructive role in holding back the tide of international efforts to delegitimize Israel. This report explains:

The United Nations Human Rights Council passed three resolutions on Wednesday condemning Israel over its policies related to what it called Palestinian and Syrian territories, but the United States voted against them all.

A further resolution, calling for a fund to compensate Palestinians who suffered losses during Israel’s offensive in Gaza 14 months ago, is expected to be passed on Thursday. …

The United States, which itself is in a diplomatic row with Israel over settlements which the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is vowing to pursue, told the Council that the three resolutions would do nothing to help peace.

It said the body was too often being used as a platform to single out Israel for condemnation while rights violations by other countries were ignored.

Britain, which expelled an Israeli diplomat on Tuesday in a row over forged U.K. passports, voted for the settlements resolution, against on Palestinian rights, and abstained on the Syrian vote.

The Council is effectively dominated by a developing country bloc in which the Organization of the Islamic Conference has a strong influence and which is routinely supported by China, Russia and Cuba.

A couple of lessons can be drawn from this. First, the decision by the Obami to rejoin the Human Rights Council was disastrous. It has given the group new legitimacy and visibility, and no resolution is too heinous and no hypocrisy too great to impress upon the Obami the importance of leaving this body of thugs. The notion that we are improving the council’s behavior or improving our own standing by sitting by as vote after vote is taken against Israel is farcical.

Second, the U.S.’s “row” with Israel seems to be encouraging not only the thugocracies but also our allies to get into the Israel-bashing act. As Jackson Diehl aptly put it: “Just like the Palestinians, European governments cannot be more friendly to an Israeli leader than the United States. Would Britain have expelled a senior Israeli diplomat Tuesday because of a flap over forged passports if there were no daylight between Obama and Netanyahu? Maybe not.”

Once again, we see the results that flow from the Obami’s fetish with multilateral institutions and from their efforts to prove our bona fides, not to Western democracies, but to the despotic regimes that populate those institutions. Israel’s security and our own credibility are undermined as the world learns there is little downside from taking continual pot shots at the Jewish state.

It is apparent that the U.S. is not playing any constructive role in holding back the tide of international efforts to delegitimize Israel. This report explains:

The United Nations Human Rights Council passed three resolutions on Wednesday condemning Israel over its policies related to what it called Palestinian and Syrian territories, but the United States voted against them all.

A further resolution, calling for a fund to compensate Palestinians who suffered losses during Israel’s offensive in Gaza 14 months ago, is expected to be passed on Thursday. …

The United States, which itself is in a diplomatic row with Israel over settlements which the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is vowing to pursue, told the Council that the three resolutions would do nothing to help peace.

It said the body was too often being used as a platform to single out Israel for condemnation while rights violations by other countries were ignored.

Britain, which expelled an Israeli diplomat on Tuesday in a row over forged U.K. passports, voted for the settlements resolution, against on Palestinian rights, and abstained on the Syrian vote.

The Council is effectively dominated by a developing country bloc in which the Organization of the Islamic Conference has a strong influence and which is routinely supported by China, Russia and Cuba.

A couple of lessons can be drawn from this. First, the decision by the Obami to rejoin the Human Rights Council was disastrous. It has given the group new legitimacy and visibility, and no resolution is too heinous and no hypocrisy too great to impress upon the Obami the importance of leaving this body of thugs. The notion that we are improving the council’s behavior or improving our own standing by sitting by as vote after vote is taken against Israel is farcical.

Second, the U.S.’s “row” with Israel seems to be encouraging not only the thugocracies but also our allies to get into the Israel-bashing act. As Jackson Diehl aptly put it: “Just like the Palestinians, European governments cannot be more friendly to an Israeli leader than the United States. Would Britain have expelled a senior Israeli diplomat Tuesday because of a flap over forged passports if there were no daylight between Obama and Netanyahu? Maybe not.”

Once again, we see the results that flow from the Obami’s fetish with multilateral institutions and from their efforts to prove our bona fides, not to Western democracies, but to the despotic regimes that populate those institutions. Israel’s security and our own credibility are undermined as the world learns there is little downside from taking continual pot shots at the Jewish state.

Read Less

Judge Goldstone: I Participated in a Farce

Richard Goldstone seems to use interviews to chip away at the legitimacy of his own work. He told the Forward that nothing he uncovered in Gaza is credible enough to be admissible in court. And now he has admitted this to Haaretz:

Many Israelis are right to feel that the United Nations and its member bodies such as the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly have devoted inordinate and disproportionate attention to scrutinizing and criticizing Israel. This has come at the price of ignoring violations of human rights in other countries, some of them members of those very same bodies. The time has come for the investigation of all violations of international human rights law and international law whenever they are committed, in any state.

A few thoughts: First, this is almost exactly what Bob Bernstein argued in his New York Times op-ed about Human Rights Watch — for which he was accused by HRW, on whose board Goldstone sat, of claiming that no scrutiny whatsoever should be applied to Israel. Will HRW now distort Goldstone and level the same charge? Not a chance.

Second, this statement would seem to validate Shimon Peres’s critique that Goldstone is a “small man, devoid of any sense of justice, a technocrat with no real understanding of jurisprudence” who was “on a one-sided mission to hurt Israel.” Goldstone has admitted that the lawfare campaign against Israel, of which he has become the de facto leader, is a perversion of justice: disproportionately and selectively applied. It is the equivalent of a police force that pursues the arrest of Jews, and scarcely anyone else, for violations. Such a police force is inherently illegitimate. Yet Goldstone chose to become the chief of that police force, and now denounces the fact of its — his — own iniquity. What psychodrama. What a small man.

Third, there is one person perfectly situated to rise to the challenge of even-handedness and proportionality that the good judge has placed before the world: his name is Richard Goldstone. He has earned his bona fides as a harsh and tendentious critic of Israel. Because of this, he has immense credibility at the UN and among “human-rights” activists worldwide. When will his campaign of inquisition against other democracies begin? Someone should ask him.

Richard Goldstone seems to use interviews to chip away at the legitimacy of his own work. He told the Forward that nothing he uncovered in Gaza is credible enough to be admissible in court. And now he has admitted this to Haaretz:

Many Israelis are right to feel that the United Nations and its member bodies such as the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly have devoted inordinate and disproportionate attention to scrutinizing and criticizing Israel. This has come at the price of ignoring violations of human rights in other countries, some of them members of those very same bodies. The time has come for the investigation of all violations of international human rights law and international law whenever they are committed, in any state.

A few thoughts: First, this is almost exactly what Bob Bernstein argued in his New York Times op-ed about Human Rights Watch — for which he was accused by HRW, on whose board Goldstone sat, of claiming that no scrutiny whatsoever should be applied to Israel. Will HRW now distort Goldstone and level the same charge? Not a chance.

Second, this statement would seem to validate Shimon Peres’s critique that Goldstone is a “small man, devoid of any sense of justice, a technocrat with no real understanding of jurisprudence” who was “on a one-sided mission to hurt Israel.” Goldstone has admitted that the lawfare campaign against Israel, of which he has become the de facto leader, is a perversion of justice: disproportionately and selectively applied. It is the equivalent of a police force that pursues the arrest of Jews, and scarcely anyone else, for violations. Such a police force is inherently illegitimate. Yet Goldstone chose to become the chief of that police force, and now denounces the fact of its — his — own iniquity. What psychodrama. What a small man.

Third, there is one person perfectly situated to rise to the challenge of even-handedness and proportionality that the good judge has placed before the world: his name is Richard Goldstone. He has earned his bona fides as a harsh and tendentious critic of Israel. Because of this, he has immense credibility at the UN and among “human-rights” activists worldwide. When will his campaign of inquisition against other democracies begin? Someone should ask him.

Read Less

Come Home, Micheline

In a hilarious column published today in the Wall Street Journal Europe, Swiss columnist Roger Koppel prays for someone to stop Swiss foreign minister, Micheline Calmy-Rey, from continuing her reckless foreign policy. The latest stunt of was, readers may recall, going to Tehran to witness–while wrapped in a white veil–the the signing of a massive gas deal between Iran and the Swiss energy company EGL.

Despite Calmy-Rey’s protestations about her stance for human rights while on this trip, Koppel surmises that “the prevailing impression was that she let herself be manipulated as a useful idiot by a brutal regime.” Given her record–signing the gas deal with Iran, supporting Qaddafi fan and radical anti-capitalist Jean Ziegler as a rapporteur for the Human Rights’ Council, having Switzerland stand as the only Western country to condemn Israel in a recent, biased HRC resolution–doesn’t calling her useful give her too much credit?

In a hilarious column published today in the Wall Street Journal Europe, Swiss columnist Roger Koppel prays for someone to stop Swiss foreign minister, Micheline Calmy-Rey, from continuing her reckless foreign policy. The latest stunt of was, readers may recall, going to Tehran to witness–while wrapped in a white veil–the the signing of a massive gas deal between Iran and the Swiss energy company EGL.

Despite Calmy-Rey’s protestations about her stance for human rights while on this trip, Koppel surmises that “the prevailing impression was that she let herself be manipulated as a useful idiot by a brutal regime.” Given her record–signing the gas deal with Iran, supporting Qaddafi fan and radical anti-capitalist Jean Ziegler as a rapporteur for the Human Rights’ Council, having Switzerland stand as the only Western country to condemn Israel in a recent, biased HRC resolution–doesn’t calling her useful give her too much credit?

Read Less

Suing the UN

Today, Reuters reports that a Dutch court has rejected the UN’s claims of immunity and allowed the families of massacre victims to sue the Netherlands and the global body. In 1995, Bosnian Serbs were able to enter Srebrenica and slaughter approximately 8,000 Muslims. The town had been guarded by Dutch soldiers serving as UN peacekeepers, but they failed to stop the Serb forces from taking control of the enclave. The families allege that the Dutch troops could have prevented the massacre if the UN had provided air support. It appears that senior Dutch officers inside the UN wanted to prevent friendly-fire casualties and so blocked the use of aircraft. Srebrenica is considered the worst atrocity in Europe since the end of World War II.

“The UN has the duty to prevent genocide,” said Marco Gerritsen, lawyer for the families, in a statement. “An appeal to immunity in a case of genocide, as in the Srebrenica drama, is irreconcilable with the UN’s own objectives and its international obligations.”

So if the UN has an obligation to prevent genocide, does it have other responsibilities as well? For instance, has it made a binding commitment to the people of the world to enforce its Universal Declaration of Human Rights? Article 3 states that every person has the right to “liberty.” Article 18 guarantees “freedom of thought, conscience and religion.” Article 21 recognizes “the right to take part in the government of his country.” Why can’t a court just outlaw autocracy on the basis of the Declaration? Personally, I have a hard time justifying the presence of either China or Russia on the Security Council. And why do Cuba and Saudi Arabia sit on the new Human Rights Council?

I am sure that readers of contentions can think of other ways to use judicial mechanisms to make the UN live up to its ideals. And if the organization ultimately proves incapable of doing so, perhaps someone might ask a judge to abolish it.

Today, Reuters reports that a Dutch court has rejected the UN’s claims of immunity and allowed the families of massacre victims to sue the Netherlands and the global body. In 1995, Bosnian Serbs were able to enter Srebrenica and slaughter approximately 8,000 Muslims. The town had been guarded by Dutch soldiers serving as UN peacekeepers, but they failed to stop the Serb forces from taking control of the enclave. The families allege that the Dutch troops could have prevented the massacre if the UN had provided air support. It appears that senior Dutch officers inside the UN wanted to prevent friendly-fire casualties and so blocked the use of aircraft. Srebrenica is considered the worst atrocity in Europe since the end of World War II.

“The UN has the duty to prevent genocide,” said Marco Gerritsen, lawyer for the families, in a statement. “An appeal to immunity in a case of genocide, as in the Srebrenica drama, is irreconcilable with the UN’s own objectives and its international obligations.”

So if the UN has an obligation to prevent genocide, does it have other responsibilities as well? For instance, has it made a binding commitment to the people of the world to enforce its Universal Declaration of Human Rights? Article 3 states that every person has the right to “liberty.” Article 18 guarantees “freedom of thought, conscience and religion.” Article 21 recognizes “the right to take part in the government of his country.” Why can’t a court just outlaw autocracy on the basis of the Declaration? Personally, I have a hard time justifying the presence of either China or Russia on the Security Council. And why do Cuba and Saudi Arabia sit on the new Human Rights Council?

I am sure that readers of contentions can think of other ways to use judicial mechanisms to make the UN live up to its ideals. And if the organization ultimately proves incapable of doing so, perhaps someone might ask a judge to abolish it.

Read Less

The Price of UN Membership

As noted yesterday on contentions, Libya was elected on October 16, 2007 to the UN Security Council, a position it will assume in January. Last month Syria was elected Vice-Chair of the General Conference of the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency. These goings-on at the UN have been presented not only as perfectly normal but as laudable. While they have provoked strong reaction in some people, they should not come as a surprise.

The UN, we are told, is an essential institution because of its unique inclusivity. The argument goes that the goals and values of democracies on the world scene are dependent on their doing business with dictators as equals. One state, one vote. Regardless of the numbers of real people being subdued in various ways back home. Regardless of the financial contribution made by each member state to the world organization. Regardless of the extent to which the founding principles and purposes of the UN are flaunted by the member state every day of the week.

So Libya and Syria join a long list of dictatorships, despotisms, and human-rights violators in UN leadership positions—positions that entail responsibilities diametrically opposed to their incumbents’ qualifications.

Here are only a few of today’s UN authority figures:

• UN Security Council: Libya
• International Atomic Energy Agency General Committee, Vice-President: Syria
• UN Disarmament Commission, Vice-Chairman: Iran. Rapporteur: Syria
• Committee on Information: China, Kazakhstan
• UN Program of Assistance in the Teaching, Study, Dissemination, and Wider Appreciation of International Law Advisory Committee: Iran, Lebanon, Sudan
• Commission for Social Development: North Korea
• Commission on the Status of Women: Qatar, Togo, United Arab Emirates
• Commission on Sustainable Development: Sudan
• Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice: Libya, Russia
• UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Vice-President: Myanmar
• UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Board: China
• UN Development Program Executive Board: Algeria, Kazakhstan
• General Assembly Vice-Presidents: Egypt, Turkmenistan, Democratic Republic of the Congo
• General Assembly’s First Committee on Disarmament and International Security, Vice-Chairman: Syria
• Human Rights Council’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention: Seyed Mohammad Hashemi of Iran
• Human Rights Council’s Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, Member: Saied Rajaie Khorasani of Iran
• UN Human Settlements Program (UN-HABITAT) Governing Council: Zimbabwe
• UN High Commissioner for Refugees Executive Committee: Lebanon, Somalia, Sudan
• International Labor Organization Governing Body: Saudi Arabia
• World Food Program Executive Board: Sudan, Zimbabwe

In short, membership in the UN has no price tag, although, as this list suggests, Israel-bashing and anti-Americanism are its all-but universal currency.

As noted yesterday on contentions, Libya was elected on October 16, 2007 to the UN Security Council, a position it will assume in January. Last month Syria was elected Vice-Chair of the General Conference of the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency. These goings-on at the UN have been presented not only as perfectly normal but as laudable. While they have provoked strong reaction in some people, they should not come as a surprise.

The UN, we are told, is an essential institution because of its unique inclusivity. The argument goes that the goals and values of democracies on the world scene are dependent on their doing business with dictators as equals. One state, one vote. Regardless of the numbers of real people being subdued in various ways back home. Regardless of the financial contribution made by each member state to the world organization. Regardless of the extent to which the founding principles and purposes of the UN are flaunted by the member state every day of the week.

So Libya and Syria join a long list of dictatorships, despotisms, and human-rights violators in UN leadership positions—positions that entail responsibilities diametrically opposed to their incumbents’ qualifications.

Here are only a few of today’s UN authority figures:

• UN Security Council: Libya
• International Atomic Energy Agency General Committee, Vice-President: Syria
• UN Disarmament Commission, Vice-Chairman: Iran. Rapporteur: Syria
• Committee on Information: China, Kazakhstan
• UN Program of Assistance in the Teaching, Study, Dissemination, and Wider Appreciation of International Law Advisory Committee: Iran, Lebanon, Sudan
• Commission for Social Development: North Korea
• Commission on the Status of Women: Qatar, Togo, United Arab Emirates
• Commission on Sustainable Development: Sudan
• Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice: Libya, Russia
• UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Vice-President: Myanmar
• UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Board: China
• UN Development Program Executive Board: Algeria, Kazakhstan
• General Assembly Vice-Presidents: Egypt, Turkmenistan, Democratic Republic of the Congo
• General Assembly’s First Committee on Disarmament and International Security, Vice-Chairman: Syria
• Human Rights Council’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention: Seyed Mohammad Hashemi of Iran
• Human Rights Council’s Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, Member: Saied Rajaie Khorasani of Iran
• UN Human Settlements Program (UN-HABITAT) Governing Council: Zimbabwe
• UN High Commissioner for Refugees Executive Committee: Lebanon, Somalia, Sudan
• International Labor Organization Governing Body: Saudi Arabia
• World Food Program Executive Board: Sudan, Zimbabwe

In short, membership in the UN has no price tag, although, as this list suggests, Israel-bashing and anti-Americanism are its all-but universal currency.

Read Less

The UN’s Human-Rights Debacle

The announcement last Tuesday by the State Department that, for a second straight year, the U.S. would decline to seek a seat on the UN Human Rights Council inscribes finis on a landmark effort to reform the UN—and suggests that all such efforts are doomed to fail.

In the wake of the oil-for-food scandal and the rending of the Security Council over the Iraq war, Secretary General Kofi Annan appointed a High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges, and Change, with an unusually ambitious mandate for UN reform. It issued a report in late 2004, which was largely incorporated in Annan’s own reform package formulated for the UN summit of September 2005. Both the panel and Annan asserted in unusually blunt terms that the longstanding UN Commission on Human Rights had strayed so far from its original purposes that, in Annan’s words, it “cast . . . a shadow on the reputation” of the whole UN. Therefore, it was to be abolished in favor of a new body designed to avoid the faults of the old.

Going into the summit, the U.S. worked shoulder-to-shoulder with Annan toward this goal, combining the clout of Washington with that of the UN establishment, two powerful forces that have often been at cross purposes. Even this alliance, however, proved too weak to achieve its key goals in the design of the new Human Rights Council.

Read More

The announcement last Tuesday by the State Department that, for a second straight year, the U.S. would decline to seek a seat on the UN Human Rights Council inscribes finis on a landmark effort to reform the UN—and suggests that all such efforts are doomed to fail.

In the wake of the oil-for-food scandal and the rending of the Security Council over the Iraq war, Secretary General Kofi Annan appointed a High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges, and Change, with an unusually ambitious mandate for UN reform. It issued a report in late 2004, which was largely incorporated in Annan’s own reform package formulated for the UN summit of September 2005. Both the panel and Annan asserted in unusually blunt terms that the longstanding UN Commission on Human Rights had strayed so far from its original purposes that, in Annan’s words, it “cast . . . a shadow on the reputation” of the whole UN. Therefore, it was to be abolished in favor of a new body designed to avoid the faults of the old.

Going into the summit, the U.S. worked shoulder-to-shoulder with Annan toward this goal, combining the clout of Washington with that of the UN establishment, two powerful forces that have often been at cross purposes. Even this alliance, however, proved too weak to achieve its key goals in the design of the new Human Rights Council.

In the hope of assuring a council made up of states that themselves respect human rights, Annan had proposed election by a two-thirds majority. This measure was rejected. Then, in the hope of setting a minimum standard for election to the council, the U.S. proposed that states under UN Security Council sanction for human-rights abuses be barred from membership. This barrier was so nominal that it would have excluded only two of the UN’s 193 members—Sudan and the Ivory Coast. But even this was too much for the UN majority, and it too was rejected.

In the face of these defeats, the U.S. announced last year that it would not seek a seat on the new council, for fear of legitimating a body that might prove as unfaithful to the cause of human rights as its predecessor. The U.S. expressed its hope that the performance of the body would allow us to join in subsequent years. The reality, however, has exceeded our fears.

The old commission would rebuke only a few dictatorships while directing its main fire against Israel. The new Human Rights Council has gone farther. It has remained in almost perpetual session castigating Israel and has not seen fit to utter a word of criticism of any other state. (It did pass one resolution on Darfur. This lauded the government of Sudan for its cooperation. It was supported by all the Muslim members and opposed by all Western members.)

Compared to other UN failings, those of the Human Rights Commission seemed easy to fix. That this has proved utterly impossible speaks volumes about the chances that the institution as a whole can ever be fixed.

Read Less




Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor to our site, you are allowed 8 free articles this month.
This is your first of 8 free articles.

If you are already a digital subscriber, log in here »

Print subscriber? For free access to the website and iPad, register here »

To subscribe, click here to see our subscription offers »

Please note this is an advertisement skip this ad
Clearly, you have a passion for ideas.
Subscribe today for unlimited digital access to the publication that shapes the minds of the people who shape our world.
Get for just
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor, you are allowed 8 free articles.
This is your first article.
You have read of 8 free articles this month.
YOU HAVE READ 8 OF 8
FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
for full access to
CommentaryMagazine.com
INCLUDES FULL ACCESS TO:
Digital subscriber?
Print subscriber? Get free access »
Call to subscribe: 1-800-829-6270
You can also subscribe
on your computer at
CommentaryMagazine.com.
LOG IN WITH YOUR
COMMENTARY MAGAZINE ID
Don't have a CommentaryMagazine.com log in?
CREATE A COMMENTARY
LOG IN ID
Enter you email address and password below. A confirmation email will be sent to the email address that you provide.