Orthodox rabbi to serve on new US human rights commission

Commission members include Rabbi Meir Soloveichik and Katrina Lantos Swett, the daughter of the late Sen. Tom Lantos, the only Holocaust survivor elected to Congress.

By MARCY OSTER/JTA
July 10, 2019 04:43
1 minute read.
U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo listens during the news conference in Reykjavik

U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo listens during the news conference in Reykjavik. (photo credit: ASGEIR ASGEIRSSON/REUTERS)

 
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An Orthodox rabbi and the daughter of the late Sen. Tom Lantos, the only Holocaust survivor elected to Congress, will serve on a new human rights commission in the United States whose funding was prohibited by the House of Representatives.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday announced the creation of the State Department’s Commission on Unalienable Rights, to define and set the direction for human rights in the country.



“The time is right for an informed review of the role of human rights in American foreign policy,” he said.



Commission members include Rabbi Meir Soloveichik of Congregation Shearith Israel in New York City, as well as the director of the Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought at Yeshiva University, and Katrina Lantos Swett, president of the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice.



The commission will be headed by Harvard Law professor Mary Ann Glendon, a former ambassador to the Holy See who teaches and writes on bioethics and human rights in international law. Glendon is a leader in the intellectual anti-abortion movement.



Pompeo said the commission “will provide me with advice on human rights grounded in our nation’s founding principles and the principles of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”



The House recently voted to ban funding for the commission.



Eliot Engel, who heads the body’s Foreign Affairs Committee, called the panel “bizarre” and said it risked “undermining many international human-rights norms that the United States helped establish.”



Other members of the commission are Russell Berman, Jewish political scientist Peter Berkowitz, Paolo Carozza, Hamza Yusuf Hanson, Jacqueline Rivers, Christopher Tollefsen and David Tse-Chien Pan.

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