The U.S. Should Give Up Its Seat on the UN Human Rights Council

March 1 2017

As one of the final acts of his presidency, Barack Obama secured Washington a seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), most of whose members represent tyrannies and whose main activity is to condemn Israel. Anne Bayefsky argues that the Trump administration should relinquish the seat rather than participate in the charade:

There is a permanent agenda of ten items that governs proceedings at every UNHRC session. One agenda item is devoted to human-rights violations by Israel, and one generic agenda item is for all other 192 UN 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 [in 2009], the U.S. could reform its agenda from the inside. The Obama administration tried and predictably failed. But it then justified staying on the Council—despite back-of-the-bus treatment of the Jewish state—as a price worth paying for other people’s human rights. . . .

Staying on the UNHRC means paying for it. A 2016 Council resolution calls for the creation of a blacklist of all companies that are connected to 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 current UNHRC session will reaffirm the blacklist initiative, and various other regular absurdities, such as demanding a return of the Golan Heights to “the Syrian motherland” so as better to 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 . . . would legitimize the vehicle attacking American corporations for doing business with Israel—and [America’s] fundamental principles.

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More about: Barack Obama, Israel & Zionism, U.S. Foreign policy, United Nations

Israel’s Nation-State Law and the Hysteria of the Western Media

Aug. 17 2018

Nearly a month after it was passed by the Knesset, the new Basic Law defining Israel as “the nation-state of the Jewish people” is still causing outrage in the American and European press. The attacks, however, are almost uniformly incommensurate with this largely symbolic law, whose text, in the English translation found on the Knesset website, is barely over 400 words in length. Matthew Continetti comments:

Major journalistic institutions have become so wedded to a pro-Palestinian, anti-Benjamin Netanyahu narrative, in which Israel is part of a global trend toward nationalist authoritarian populism, that they have abdicated any responsibility for presenting the news in a dispassionate and balanced manner. The shameful result of this inflammatory coverage is the normalization of anti-Israel rhetoric and policies and widening divisions between Israel and the diaspora.

For example, a July 18, 2018, article in the Los Angeles Times described the nation-state law as “granting an advantageous status to Jewish-only communities.” But that is false: the bill contained no such language. (An earlier version might have been interpreted in this way, but the provision was removed.) Yet, as I write, the Los Angeles Times has not corrected the piece that contained the error. . . .

Such through-the-looking-glass analysis riddled [the five] news articles and four op-eds the New York Times has published on the matter at the time of this writing. In these pieces, “democracy” is defined as results favored by the New York Times editorial board, and Israel’s national self-understanding as in irrevocable conflict with its democratic form of government. . . .

The truth is that democracy is thriving in Israel. . . .  The New York Times quoted Avi Shilon, a historian at Ben-Gurion University, who said [that] “Mr. Netanyahu and his colleagues are acting like we are still in the battle of 1948, or in a previous era.” Judging by the fallacious, paranoid, fevered, and at times bigoted reaction to the nation-state bill, however, Bibi may have good reason to believe that Israel is still in the battle of 1948, and still defending itself against assaults on the very idea of a Jewish state.

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More about: Israel & Zionism, Israel's Basic Law, Israeli democracy, Media, New York Times