Meeting today in Geneva, the UN Human Rights Council heard the following statement from the Syrian representative, First Secretary Rania Al Rifaiy: “Israel…is a state that is built on hatred…Let me quote a song that a group of children on a school bus in Israel sing merrily as they go to school and I quote 'With my teeth I will rip your flesh. With my mouth I will suck your blood.'" The Obama administration chose to join this Council, the UN’s lead human rights body, and its representative was present. But they said nothing after hearing this blood libel.
On the contrary, rather than expose the Council and its anti-Jewish agenda, one of President Obama’s first foreign policy moves was a decision to pay for it. Hence, American taxpayers will pay 22 percent of the cost for this speech to be permanently posted on the UN website, translated, and broadcast around the world.
There is a reason that none of the members of the UN Human Rights Council thought this statement was sufficiently repulsive or shocking to complain. The blood libel against the Jewish people is a calling card of UN proceedings, with UN members usually casting their anti-Semitism as vicious anti-Israel attacks. For instance, last week’s Council debate over the attempt by Turkish-backed extremists to break the Israeli blockade of Hamas-controlled Gaza included the following outbursts. Along with references to Israel’s desire for “bloodshed,” came Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua’s accusation that “the Zionist regime” conducted an “indescribable” and “brutal massacre.” Pakistan said Israel committed “crimes against humanity,” Algeria described Israelis as “butchers,” and Libya distributed a statement entitled “The Massacre Committed by the Zionist Entity Forces.”
The UN Human Rights Council has a webpage for all those who follow its proceedings. Although it is now in the midst of its fourteenth session, and has thousands of videos from its many meetings since 2006, smack in the middle of its home page is only one video link. It reads: “Human Rights Council 12th session Highlights,” and has a photo of Richard Goldstone. He is speaking about his libelous 2009 report that claimed Israel deliberately intended to murder civilians in the 2009 Gaza war rather than defend itself against eight years of rocket attacks.
In the chair during the Syrian statement today was Council President Alex Van Meeuwen of Belgium, who also said nothing, though he has no trouble finding his voice when it comes to objecting to statements from Israel or other states and NGOs which refer to less popular subjects. Today, following this statement by Canadian representative Jeffrey Heaton – “Canada condemns the lack of respect of the Burmese regime for human rights and fundamental freedoms of its population” – Van Meeuwen responded: “before moving to the next speaker, I would like to ask once again all speakers to refrain from using words such as regime in reference to member states and uphold to UN standards when referring to countries.”
In February, after Israeli Ambassador Aharon Leshno-Yaar called upon Iranian leaders to cease denying the Holocaust, Van Meeuwen exceptionally intervened in the debate to chide: “I would like to remind all speakers of the importance to deal with human rights issues with dignity and respect and to and to adhere to the well-established principles of the United Nations.” But when it came to dehumanizing Israeli children, Van Meeuwen had only two words to say: “Thank you.”
There are no more excuses for President Obama to pretend that there is a greater good in lending American credibility to an international vehicle for anti-Semitism. It is time to leave the UN Human Rights Council and to ensure that not a single U.S. dollar is used to encourage its sickening agenda.
Anne Bayefsky is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and director of the Touro Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust.