US tax dollars at work?

The UN Human Rights Council has an unhealthy obsession with Israel.

unhrc human rights 224 (photo credit: AP [file])
unhrc human rights 224
(photo credit: AP [file])
Next month will mark the 60th anniversary of Israel's independence. Since its founding, Israel has faced immense challenges in the struggle for survival against neighboring countries and radical extremists openly threatening its security, or worse, with destruction. Despite these threats, the Jewish state has flourished as a strong and vibrant democracy and a steadfast strategic ally of the United States. The reestablishment of a homeland for Jews escaping the Holocaust and centuries of anti-Semitic oppression and persecution opened a new and hopeful chapter for the Jewish people. However, the recent State Department report on anti-Semitism serves as a reminder that anti-Semitism continues to be a significant and urgent challenge that needs to be confronted and dealt with effectively. According to the 2007 report, "over much of the past decade, U.S. embassies worldwide have noted an increase in anti-Semitic incidents, such as attacks on Jewish people, property, community institutions, and religious facilities." What is particularly disturbing is how governments play an active role in spreading anti-Semitic sentiments either through national policy or through state-controlled media publishing hateful propaganda. Among the biggest offenders are, not surprisingly, Iran, Belarus, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela. Examples include Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad suggesting that "Israel must be wiped off the map," Saudi state-controlled newspapers alleging that Jews were behind the September 11 attacks, as well as state-sponsored media in Venezuela accusing Israel and the Jewish community of conspiring to overthrow Hugo Chavez's regime. The worst governments have also found a venue at the UN to spout their anti-Semitic venom. According to the State Department report, "between 2001 and when it was disbanded in 2006, the UN Commission on Human Rights passed 26 resolutions and one decision that were critical of Israel," compared with a combined total of 11 resolutions on appalling human rights violations in Burma, North Korea, and Sudan. This double standard, sadly, is alive and well inside the new UN Human Rights Council, a body created with much fanfare nearly two years ago to replace the discredited Commission. THE COUNCIL's obsession with Israel continues unashamedly, and it has passed dozens of resolutions condemning the Jewish state instead of fulfilling its duties as a guarantor of human rights. In its session in March, the Council passed more resolutions against Israel than against Burma and Sudan combined, and it failed to comment at all on abuses by Iran or Cuba. Always more willing to denounce Israel than condemn terrorism, the Council has also overlooked Palestinian extremists who have fired more than 4,000 rockets into Southern Israel and instead rebuked Israel for its defensive actions. Despite the threat level with which it is confronted on daily basis, Israel's commitment to human rights and rule of law is on par with any Western nation, and singling Israel out for defending its citizens from extremists is hypocritical and undoubtedly anti-Semitic. All civilized nations should join with Israel and the United States in this struggle against anti-Semitism and intensify the pressure on those governments that justify such bigotry or those who engage in it. As part of that effort, we must deprive governments of international forums to voice their loathsome rhetoric by refusing to host, participate in, or finance such meetings. In particular, the United States and other contributors should proportionally withhold funds to the UN budget for UN agencies that are engaged in such activities, and urge the Secretary-General to further develop and implement international education awareness programs to more effectively combat the global rise in anti-Semitism. As Israel celebrates its 60th birthday we should commemorate not only its remarkable journey, but also its vital role as a beacon of freedom and democracy in the region. We should also use this anniversary as an opportunity to reinvigorate our efforts to combat anti-Semitism and the danger it poses to Israel and all of us who cherish decency and freedom. The writer is a congresswoman from Florida and serves as Senior Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.