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U.S. State Department's Duplicity at the U.N. Human Rights Council

7:30 AM, Oct 21, 2010 • By ANNE BAYEFSKY
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As the American midterm election campaigns head to the finish line, the Obama administration is trying to convince Jewish voters that its treatment of Israel is not as hostile as it appears. In fact, it’s worse. The U.S. State Department has now adopted a practice honed by Israel’s Arab negotiating partners – saying different things to different audiences.  The State Department is distributing for American consumption speeches that it claims were delivered in Israel’s defense at the recent session of the U.N. Human Rights Council.  But the remarks American diplomats actually delivered to the U.N. audience, which President Obama so desperately seeks to impress, were strikingly different. 

U.S. State Department's Duplicity at the U.N. Human Rights Council

U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Human Rights Council, Eileen Donahoe

The foreign policy deception involves the U.N. Human Rights Council, which the president decided to join soon after taking office.  At the beginning of October the Human Rights Council concluded its fifteenth session, marking the end of a full year of American membership on the U.N.’s lead human rights body. U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva, Eileen Donahoe marked the occasion by declaring that the Human Rights Council had “made historic progress…in advancing the rights of human rights defenders throughout the world.” But her claim turns on the virtue of legitimizing the demonization of Israel in favor of other people’s human rights.

At this latest session, the Human Rights Council had before it two extraordinarily ugly reports condemning Israel. One was aimed at keeping alive last year’s Goldstone Report, a modern-day blood libel alleging that the 2009 Gaza war was not fought in self-defense but was a deliberate move by Israel to murder Palestinian civilians. The new report, produced for this session, repeats the odious claim that Israel engaged in “violence against civilians as part of a deliberate policy” and goes on to criticize Israel’s legal system for failing to mount a witch hunt for “officials at the highest levels.” Referring to the Hamas internal “investigation,” which repeatedly exonerated itself from all wrongdoing, the U.N.’s team could only conclude that it “is not in a position to ascertain the veracity of any of these assertions.”  It was produced by a committee chaired by German lawyer Christian Tomuschat, who once provided legal advice to Yasser Arafat’s PLO.  

When it came time for the Human Rights Council to take up the report the Obama administration sought to manufacture a middle ground. Knowing that the committee’s mandate was to implement the infamous conclusions of the Goldstone Report, Ambassador Donahoe told the Human Rights Council on September 27: “We appreciate that the Tomuschat Committee did not jump to conclusions…”  She also praised the committee on the grounds that it “did not recommend any further UN action,” despite the fact that the report was written so that it would guarantee the committee’s reappointment. Indeed, the Tomuschat committee was reappointed together “with all administrative, technical and logistic assistance” they could dream of, shortly thereafter.

Then Ambassador Donahoe varied her speech from the version now gracing the State Department website. She dropped these words: “Because Israel has the right and the demonstrated ability to conduct credible investigations and serious self-scrutiny, further follow-up of the Goldstone Report by UN bodies is unnecessary and unwarranted.”

This was not a one-off occurrence. The second Israel-bashing report before the Human Rights Council had been commissioned last June following the flotilla incident, in which 9 Turkish-backed extremists died after they tried to ram an Israeli blockade of Hamas-run Gaza. The Human Rights Council “investigation,” created within 48 hours of the incident, was carried out by a carefully selected three-person group that included one Desmond de Silva. De Silva had jointly headed a British law office with a Palestinian legal advisor, and their law practice had hosted the legal team supporting a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state. De Silva was unabashed about his predilection to grease legal wheels for terrorists.  He told the Human Rights Council on September 28:  “[E]ven if Bin Laden himself was on board the Mavi Marmara” – the vessel on which the deaths occurred –  “it wouldn’t have made the blockade legal.”  

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