US President Joe Biden on October 14 celebrated the return of the United States to the United Nations Human Rights Council stating: “Defending human rights is … the fundamental challenge of our time.”
Adding these lofty words, he continued: “It’s at the center of my administration’s foreign policy and it goes to the heart of who we are as a nation—and as a people.”
President Biden is right. Human rights is a core value of the American people. The only problem is that, so far, there’s too much that is wrong with the United States’ human rights policies.
There are a few recent examples.
First, the State Department chided Israel’s designation of six Palestinian NGOs for their links to a notorious terrorist organization.
Spokesperson Ned Price was quick to defend the supporters of the mass-murdering Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), declaring that “we believe respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms and a strong civil society are critically important to responsible and responsive governance.”
Price, apparently taking his cues from the morally inept UN and European Union, was acting as if these NGOs were just regular ole’ members of global civil society.
But they aren’t. America and Israel agree that the PFLP is funded by Iran and is a statutorily designated terrorist group.
In 2014, two PFLP-affiliated terrorists butchered a group of rabbis at prayer in a Jerusalem synagogue, and then killed the Druze police officer who rushed in to try to stop the murderous onslaught.
How is it that any organization receiving resources from the PFLP wasn’t itself already a designated terrorist organization, especially since multiple employees of the six designated organizations have been arrested on terrorist charges?
Then there’s the thorny issue of Communist China.
Most Americans probably missed an obscure tweet from a university professor in Shanghai citing Chinese Communist Party diplomatic statements. “On November 2 and 3, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Ma Zhaoxu respectively held a phone conversation with Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister @alibagherikani and US Special Envoy for Iran,” read the tweet.
In other words, these conversations (so far undisclosed by the Biden administration) in effect made the human rights violators-in-chief – the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) – the intermediary between the US and Iran over something as inconsequential as nuclear weapons. This is the same CCP which disregards supposed US sanctions on Iranian oil.
One day later, it was announced that the reconvening of Iranian nuclear negotiations would take place on November 29 in Europe. On the same day, Iranian naval boats harassed another US vessel in the Strait of Hormuz.
Is there anyone left who thinks any future strongly worded protests from Washington against the genocide of Uyghurs by Beijing or the thuggish, Holocaust-denying, genocide-seeking Iranian regime, would be met with anything but derision?
The Iranian regime, which hangs minorities on cranes, routinely engages in hostage diplomacy and threatens the destruction of Israel, has already been given sufficient economic concessions by the Biden administration to raise its accessible cash reserves by $27 billion in only one year. Researcher Gabriel Noronha estimates that this constitutes a 750% increase.
Is this how the Biden administration prioritizes human rights?
Strike three goes to the shocking and ongoing human rights catastrophe lingering in the aftermath of the US government’s disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Anyone who believed that anything has changed in a nation once again controlled by the Taliban was disabused of that notion this week by a CNN correspondent who witnessed a nine-year-old girl sold as a child bride to a 55-year-old man. Her father-of-eight’s final words to his daughter’s purchaser were heart-wrenching: “This is your bride. Please take care of her … please don’t beat her.”
So much for the US taxpayers’ investment in Afghanistan’s women and girls.
While US foreign policy has always been decided by the executive branch, Congress has traditionally played an active role in prodding presidents to do more for human rights abroad.
Not in 2021.
The current chair of the US House of Representatives’ powerful Defense Appropriations Subcommittee is also one of the most anti-Israel members of Congress.
Rep. Betty McCollum, D-Minn., is a proud advocate for the viciously antisemitic Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which exclusively attacks Israel.
Rep. McCollum doesn’t hide her bigotry, either. She once had the audacity to refer to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) as a hate group. She frequently parrots the big lie that Israel is as an “apartheid state.” This past summer, when Hamas fired 5,000 rockets targeting Israeli civilians, she had nothing but sympathy for the terrorists in Gaza.
No surprise then, that this past week the chairwoman sponsored legislation overtly supporting the six Palestinian NGOs blacklisted by Israel for supporting terrorism. She was joined, of course, by the “Squad.”
We can assume that the speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, was familiar with McCollum’s bigotry but still awarded the terrorist sympathizer with the chair of a powerful subcommittee that oversees funding of our armed forces (including support we provide to Israel to defend itself against terrorists).
Tragically, Speaker Pelosi let politics, not human rights, be her guide – and not only with this appointment.
Just a few weeks ago, Speaker Pelosi was addressing one of world’s most elite universities and started musing about China.
She bemoaned “their military aggression in the South China Sea, with their continuation of genocide with the Uyghurs in Xinjiang province, with their violation of the cultural religious priority of Tibet, with their suppression of democracy in Hong Kong, and other parts of China as well, they are just getting worse in terms of suppression and freedom of speech.”
But then she pivoted: “having said all of that … we have to work together on climate. Climate is an overriding issue.”
Political pundits now focus on Speaker Pelosi’s efforts to pass a game-changing, multi-trillion-dollar domestic package.
Perhaps they can pause long enough to elicit her reaction to 40 of her House colleagues who voted against a fellow Democrat’s resolution expressing support for the long-suffering people of Cuba in their “workers’ paradise.”
Fidel Castro must be smiling in the smoking section of hell.
The United States needs to put up or shut up on human rights. The administration must begin by demanding the UN Human Rights Council drop its hypocritical and corrosive anti-peace practice of having an attack on Israel as a standing item on its meeting agenda (literally, it’s Item 7 during every meeting). It should request Speaker Pelosi remove and reassign Rep. McCollum.
And when it comes to Iran and China, it’s time to rediscover our moral backbone to stand by our core values of defending human dignity both morally and geopolitically.
That will take opening a new chapter in America’s foreign policy fueled by courage, vision and real leadership.
Rabbi Abraham Cooper is the associate dean and director of Global Social Action for the Simon Wiesenthal Center. Rev. Johnnie Moore is the president of The Congress of Christian Leaders and two-time appointee to the US Commission on International Religious Freedom. They are authors of “The Next Jihad.”