After reading Anne Bayefsky’s piece on Commentary Online about the Human Rights Council’s (HRC) recent Israel-bashing convention in Geneva, I can only wonder what worthy venue will win American diplomats, dollars, and tacit endorsement next. A U.N. commission on the sanctity of marriage co-chaired by Tiger Woods and John Edwards?
I could believe anything after the despots that run the HRC heaped condemnation upon Israel for protecting her most vulnerable citizens from bombs and rockets that bear the symbolic fingerprints of those very same moral midgets passing all that hypocritical, U.N.-sanctioned judgment.
At least former president George W. Bush had the sense to boycott this travesty. Unfortunately, for some reason President Barack Obama reversed that policy. Here is how Bayefsky described the current administration’s participation and support.
Having jumped on the Council bandwagon last year without insisting on any reform-minded preconditions, U.S. diplomats now sit there taking it on the chin and lending predictable and immutable Council routines undeserved legitimacy. This past session, the Council adopted five resolutions condemning Israel and fewer resolutions on the rest of the world combined: one each on the Democratic Republic of the Congo, North Korea, Burma/Myanmar, and Guinea.
The other 187 states on the planet got a free pass from the Council, notwithstanding the pressing reality of Nigeria’s butchered Christians, Saudi Arabia’s gender apartheid, Egypt’s systematic torture, China’s iron fist, Sudan’s genocide, and Russia’s slain human-rights defenders. In fact, over the entire four-year history of the Council, more than half of all resolutions and decisions condemning any state have been directed at Israel alone.
Perhaps we signed on hoping it would earn us some international brownie points in our quarrel with Iran. If so, it didn’t work. According to Bayefsky, all the wall-to-wall Israel bashing didn’t leave much time to address truly malevolent terrorist regimes. And the U.S. was hesitant to single out Iran, because they feared their fellow human rights champions would retaliate by voting them a place beside us at the table. Something, Bayefsky said, the U.S. wanted to avoid – but only to protect the reputation of the HRC from their own revealing actions.
The most widely trumpeted American (and European) excuse for going soft on Iran was that any attempt to criticize the country would prompt a wave of sympathy that would improve Iran’s chances of becoming a Council member. Council elections are scheduled for May, and American diplomats fretted that the successful election of candidate Iran would harm the Council’s credentials. Since such human-rights role models as Angola, Cuba, China, Russia, and Saudi Arabia are already members of the Council (and come May, Libya is a shoo-in, because the slate of African states has been fixed), the idea of preserving membership quality on the Council is a very bad joke.
Maybe it’s not the Human Rights Council’s image on the world stage that the Obama administration should be so concerned about. Maybe it’s ours.