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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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The flotilla investigative group that included de Silva said it couldn’t trust Israeli video evidence of the incident, and called the thugs who nearly murdered Israeli soldiers “persons genuinely committed to the spirit of humanitarianism.” These “experts” couldn’t think of a single “military advantage” for the Israeli blockade – a key test in determining whether Israel’s action was legal – though the blockade obviously prevents the creation of an Iranian weapons depot on the Mediterranean a few miles from Israeli population centers. Instead, they produced the usual U.N. laundry list of wild accusations and demands, such as prosecuting Israelis for torture. Hamas immediately "hailed the contents of the report…on the massacre perpetrated by the Zionist forces against international activists on board the fleet of freedom.”

When this despicable report came to the Human Rights Council for discussion, the State Department website claims Ambassador Donahoe delivered a speech, saying: “We have received the lengthy report of the fact-finding mission. We are concerned by the report’s unbalanced language, tone and conclusions.” But on September 28 what she actually said to the Council was this: “On an initial reading, we are concerned by the report’s unbalanced language, tone and conclusions.”  

And again on September 27, the State Department gave the U.N. a Donahoe speech to post on the U.N. website which includes an important defense of Israel – all of which was omitted from her actual delivery:

In contrast to the unbalanced mechanisms adopted under this agenda item, Israel has been conducting its own process of credible investigations, and Israeli officials have been actively engaged in scrutinizing doctrinal issues. Israel has also established an independent public commission to examine the Israeli mechanism for investigating complaints and claims raised in relation to violations of the laws of armed conflict. This commission is headed by respected Israeli jurist Yaakov Turkel and includes two international observers: Nobel Peace Prize laureate Lord David Trimble and former Canadian Judge Advocate General Kenneth Watkin. This commission, along with the ongoing inquiries and changes in combat doctrine demonstrate Israel's ability to conduct credible investigations and serious self-scrutiny, and we urge this Council to consider these factors as it deliberates.

A few days later, on September 29, the Human Rights Council voted to approve the Goldstone-Tomuschat and flotilla reports. Widespread repugnance in America and Israel over the Goldstone report made it impossible for the administration to support a report following it up.  But on the flotilla episode, the administration rejected the Human Rights Council’s flotilla investigation only to bind Israel to an investigation created by the U.N. secretary general. The president pressured Israel to accept – for the first time in Israel’s history – oversight of the Israel Defense Forces by the U.N. The Turkel commission, Nobel laureates and all, were disposable. Of course, if President Obama were ever to agree to put the American armed forces under a similar knife, his presidency would be doomed.

As a result, some acrobatics were required at the Human Rights Council when the Obama administration had to explain its position for and against U.N. investigations of Israel.  So on the Goldstone-Tomuschat resolution, Donahoe said: “…we did not support international oversight of domestic legal processes absent an indication that they are manifestly failing to deal seriously with alleged abuses…Extension of the committee of experts at this point is unnecessary and unhelpful.”  And on the flotilla resolution Donahoe said: “the Secretary-General’s…panel is the primary method for the international community to review the incident.”  Following these contradictory explanations, which inspired no support from the other Human Rights Council members, the U.S. voted against in both cases. The resolutions passed handily.

At the conclusion of this session, the Human Rights Council’s demonization of Israel stood at an all-time high.  With the Goldstone-Tomuschat and flotilla resolutions, the Human Rights Council maintained its record of having adopted more resolutions and decisions condemning Israel than all other 191 U.N. states combined.  The Human Rights Council had spent as much time attacking Israel than it did on its one agenda item for “human-rights situations that require the Council’s attention” anywhere else in the world.

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