The UN Human Rights Council Hits a New Low

March 2 2018

On Tuesday, the UN Human Rights Council—a body where representatives of various tyrannies gather to condemn Israel—entertained the Iranian justice minister, Alireza Avaei, whose speech bemoaned the excessive influence wielded by Western countries over the United Nations. Avaei, who serves a regime that brutally oppresses its own people and engineers mass-slaughter abroad, has himself overseen the torture and execution of thousands. Sohrab Ahmari comments:

[A] report on the 1988 massacre of thousands of Iranian dissidents identifies Avaei as an “interrogator and torturer at a prison” in Dezful, in southern Iran. There, Avaei sat on the “death commissions” that carried out Ayatollah Khomeini’s fatwa ordering the regime to liquidate imprisoned leftists and members of the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK).

Mohammad-Reza Ashooq had been caught in the dragnet and sent to Avaei’s prison merely because he sympathized ideologically with the MEK. As he later remembered, Avaei was one of three men present at his death commission. . . . Ashooq survived [a death sentence] by jumping out of the window of [a] minibus. But some 30,000 others didn’t, including children as young as thirteen.

Avaei’s career in torture and summary execution didn’t end there. Two decades later, as chief of justice in Tehran Province, he helped oversee the bloody crackdown against the pro-democracy Green Movement. This involved the operation of Kahrizak, a makeshift prison and interrogation camp where young dissidents were raped using batons and soda bottles. . . . Now Avaei can boast of having addressed the Human Rights Council, thanks to a bankrupt UN system that treats democracies and dictatorships as morally equivalent, entitled to an equal say in human-rights matters.

Years of U.S. “engagement” under the Obama and Trump administrations have failed to improve matters. More than a decade since the council’s founding, 25 of its 47 members are classified as unfree or partly free by Freedom House. These include such human-rights champions as China, Cuba, and Venezuela. Meanwhile, Israel remains the only state to be the subject of a permanent agenda item. . . . [T]he best thing Washington can do is to pull out of the UN Human Rights Council as it did earlier with UNESCO. Lending American legitimacy to this cruelly misnamed body sets back the noble cause of human rights.

You have 2 free articles left this month

Sign up now for unlimited access

Subscribe Now

Already have an account? Log in now

Read more at Commentary

More about: Human Rights, Iran, Politics & Current Affairs, UNHRC, United Nations

For Israelis, Anti-Zionism Kills

Dec. 14 2018

This week alone, anti-Zionists have killed multiple Israelis in a series of attacks; these follow the revelations that Hizballah succeeded in digging multiple attack tunnels from Lebanon into northern Israel. Simultaneously, some recent news stories in the U.S. have occasioned pious reminders that anti-Zionism should not be conflated with anti-Semitism. Bret Stephens notes that it is anti-Zionists, not defenders of Israel, who do the most to blur that distinction:

Israelis experience anti-Zionism in a different way from, say, readers of the New York Review of Books: not as a bold sally in the world of ideas, but as a looming menace to their earthly existence, held at bay only through force of arms. . . . Anti-Zionism might have been a respectable point of view before 1948, when the question of Israel’s existence was in the future and up for debate. Today, anti-Zionism is a call for the elimination of a state—details to follow regarding the fate befalling those who currently live in it. . . .

Anti-Zionism is ideologically unique in insisting that one state, and one state only, doesn’t just have to change. It has to go. By a coincidence that its adherents insist is entirely innocent, this happens to be the Jewish state, making anti-Zionists either the most disingenuous of ideologues or the most obtuse. When then-CNN contributor Marc Lamont Hill called last month for a “free Palestine from the river to the sea” and later claimed to be ignorant of what the slogan really meant, it was hard to tell in which category he fell.

Does this make someone with Hill’s views an anti-Semite? It’s like asking whether a person who believes in [the principle of] separate-but-equal must necessarily be a racist. In theory, no. In reality, another story. The typical aim of the anti-Semite is legal or social discrimination against some set of Jews. The explicit aim of the anti-Zionist is political or physical dispossession.

What’s worse: to be denied membership in a country club because you’re Jewish, or driven from your ancestral homeland and sovereign state for the same reason? If anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism are meaningfully distinct (I think they are not), the human consequences of the latter are direr.

You have 1 free article left this month

Sign up now for unlimited access

Subscribe Now

Already have an account? Log in now

Read more at New York Times

More about: Anti-Semitism, Anti-Zionism, Hizballah, Israel & Zionism, Palestinian terror