Richard Hellman during his current solidarity mission to Israel..
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Israel deserves all the support we can muster in the US and worldwide – in the public arena, the media and especially in Congress and other free parliamentary bodies.
This is my conclusion now, near the end of a two-week Middle East Research Center, Limited (MERCL) leadership mission I have led to all corners of Israel, studying the Gaza war, Israeli responses and the effects on Israeli society, and expressing our support for the IDF, the Jewish people and the State of Israel.
I realize more clearly than ever that Israel’s situation, like that of the United States, is too important to be left to the tender mercies of the UN. Thus I have issued the following statement to all media, and to Congress, after consulting with such Israeli NGO leaders as Dr. Elihu Richter of the Jerusalem Center for Genocide Prevention and David Bedein of the Center for Near East Policy Research: In response to the latest unprofessional and discriminatory actions and statements of the UN Human Rights Council, particularly in appointing an evidently biased committee to investigate Israel’s defensive actions in Gaza, I am calling on the US House and Senate to launch one or more urgent special inquiries into the UNHRC.
I have asked my staff in Washington to draft the necessary resolutions to help the House of Representatives and the Senate establish authority for such special inquiries by the House Foreign Affairs Committee, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and such other committees as the respective bodies of Congress may determine to be most effective.
It is high time for Congress to update previous hearings, to return to this pressing and vital issue, particularly in light of the currently proposed UNHRC committee to investigate Israel’s actions to defend herself from Hamas’s murderous rocket barrages and terror tunnel invasions.
Congress, as the co-equal foreign policy- making body with the executive branch, must examine why, once again, the UNHRC picks on Israel alone, out of all the nations and movements involved in conflicts in the Middle East and worldwide, including others inflicting vastly more collateral damage to civilians. Congress should invite such unbiased, professional witnesses as Col. Richard Kemp, the ex-commander of UK forces in Afghanistan, who has examined Israeli efforts to avoid collateral damage in this and prior conflicts, to complete any needed updates to their relevant investigations, and testify before the congressional committees conducting such inquiries.
Only such an august institution as the United States Congress, the world’s longest-serving freely and universally elected and best-equipped parliamentary body, can be trusted to bring out all of the relevant facts regarding – and motives for – the recent and prior actions and statements of the UNHRC, its predecessor the UN Commission on Human Rights, and all the parties involved in the ongoing Gaza conflict, and to reach conclusions and recommended actions for the US, the UN and other parties to take regarding the UNHRC and other governmental and intergovernmental organizations.
As a veteran of a Senate committee staff in a golden era of effective, bipartisan investigative, legislative and appropriation actions at a historic time, I have confidence in Congress to begin such inquiries promptly and conclude them in a timely fashion. In fact I suspect that one or more senators, representatives or staff members already may have caught the vision of such an inquiry and begun needed actions. To them I say, “Godspeed and let us know how we can help!“ It has been a privilege, honor and joy to lead a company of committed Christians to Israel at such a time as this, to find the Israelis at all levels and in all walks of life confident, courageous and committed to defend their freedom and values, and indeed ours. It is especially exciting to have a fresh vision of the ways and means to advance Israel’s well-being and that of America. For, as it is written and remains true, the Almighty will bless those who bless Israel.
The writer is president and founder and CEO of CIPAC, the committed US pro-Israel lobby, and MERC, the think tank supporting it, and can be contacted at RAHellman@cipaconline.org, www.mercl.org.