A Hamas victory at the UN Human Rights Council
The Obama administration's political and financial backing of the UN Human Rights Council resulted in another win for Hamas on Friday, June 22 in Geneva. A Hamas-affiliated organization and its supporters held an "informal parallel meeting" promoting the destruction of the Jewish state at the UN's Palais des Nations.
The event was advertised on the UN website and listed on an official UN document headlined "Human Rights Council, twentieth session, 18 June 06 July 2012."
Opening week of the Council's latest session, therefore, featured both friends of Hamas sporting UN passes and championing an end to a Jewish state, and Obama's Ambassador (and former California fundraiser) Eileen Donahoe painting the Council as the place to be to promote and protect human rights.
In recent months, top Israeli officials have pleaded with their US counterparts to end American legitimization of the Council in light of its virulently anti-Israel record. In fact, this is the first Council session in which Israel's observer seat is empty. Instead, the Obama administration has doubled-down on its support for the UN body and continues to trumpet its decision to seek a second term on the Council at elections this fall.
Hamas and company have now calibrated team Obama's evident priorities to their advantage.
One of Friday's three speakers was Sameh Habeeb, head of the media department of the "Palestinian Return Centre." The event flyer, which clearly identified the Center as a "coorganizer" and named its representative as a speaker, was authorized to be posted at the UN conference room and distributed on UN NGO-reserved tables. And yet, as the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center has documented, the Palestinian Return Centre is one of the central institutions through which Hamas operates in Britain.
Here is some of what Habeeb had to say while speaking in a UN room, at a UN-provided microphone, at a UN-advertised event associated with the UN's top human rights body: "In 1947, 1948 and 1949 the Palestinian refugees were ethnically cleansed by the Israeli gangs.... Some Arab armies came to Palestine to fight the Zionist project, which came from all over Europe to take over Palestine and to make it as a national home for the Jews, although it was always the national home for the Palestinians for thousands and thousands of years."
Habeeb, a well-known radical and "one state solution" campaigner, didn't come alone. Various publications of his Palestinian Return Center were made readily available on UN premises.
There was the pamphlet with this bigoted diatribe: "a racist ideology is inherent in political Zionism and... is being implemented as a political project by the state of Israel.
Political Zionism idealizes and advances a racist and chauvinistic... religion and nationalism."
And there was the map with the word "Palestine" splashed across the entirety of what is now Israel. Advocating the elimination of a UN member state, the most elementary violation of the UN Charter, is evidently acceptable literature in the belly of the UN human rights beast.
A third handout, entitled "Apartheid against Palestinians," analogized Israelis to Nazis: "The Israeli regime is based on... race and religious supremacy... Modern nation states formed through these corrosive ideals scarred the 20th century, including in Germany and the South African apartheid regime."
This is the second time in two consecutive sessions of the Human Rights Council that Hamas and its messengers have been allowed into the UN fold. At the last session of the Council in March, a Hamas member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, Ismail al- Ashqar, was given a UN pass, seated in a UN room at the invitation of a UN-accredited NGO, and permitted to speak at another Council "side-event." Though UN organizers issued the standard disclaimer about what is said during such events, applications to hold any such meeting are first vetted and approved by UN staff.
The raft of anti-Israel informal meetings during Human Rights Council sessions which have been approved, and the nonstop Israel-bashing emanating from the Council itself, are not mere ships passing in the night. Forty-one percent of all the resolutions and decisions of the Council condemning a specific state have been directed at just one country among all 193 UN members, namely, Israel.
Nevertheless, today the UN Human Rights Council's lead promoter is President Obama.
As November's election fast approaches, UN Ambassador Susan Rice has been commissioned to explain the troubling disconnect with American values to disaffected voters.
At a synagogue in Boca Raton, Florida last month, Rice lectured: the administration had made "meaningful progress... at the Human Rights Council." That is, some are more equal than others. She also tried this contortion: "there's an important distinction to understand. Israel gets singled out at the UN, not by the UN. When Israel gets marginalized and maligned, it's not usually because of the UN Secretariat.... It's usually because of decisions by individual member states."
Actually, the decisions to facilitate public speeches and the distribution of documents by Hamas and its cohorts alongside the Human Rights Council were made by the UN Secretariat. And the point is, UN bodies empower and magnify the pernicious decisions of their members.
In what is bound to become standard Democrat fare in the coming months, Rice summed up her UN pep talk this way: "Efforts to chip away at Israel's legitimacy have been met with the unflinching opposition of the United States."
Except with Obama's representative settled comfortably into her Council digs while the Israeli chair lies vacant, it is obvious to all that this White House has blinked.
The writer is the director of the Touro Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust.