Top American Jewish and pro-Israel groups have hailed Tuesday’s announcement — made by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and UN Ambassador Nikki Haley — that the United States was withdrawing from the UN Human Rights Council.
An edited sampling of these responses can be read below:
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) said it “appreciates the Trump administration’s decision to withdraw from the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), and for the leadership of U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley on this issue. Unfortunately, the council has profoundly betrayed its mission through its long and obsessive record of unfairly targeting the Middle East’s only genuine democracy, the state of Israel.”
“The UNHRC’s unrelenting, unbalanced and unfounded attacks on Israel have destroyed its credibility,” the AIPAC statement continued. “The council has passed more country-specific resolutions against Israel than the rest of the world’s nations combined. The United States has repeatedly called for reform of the UNHRC; unfortunately, the council has rebuffed any serious reform — severely impeding its ability to effectively act as an objective guardian of human rights.”
“We also appreciate the important efforts pursued by members of Congress on a bipartisan basis over many years to combat the council’s bias against our democratic ally,” AIPAC concluded.
Rabbis Marvin Hier and Abraham Cooper, the dean and associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC), stated, “We speak out as an active NGO at the United Nations for more than two decades and as an NGO at another UN agency, UNESCO. We applaud Ambassador Haley’s move and urge other democracies should follow the US lead and leave the UNHRC as well.”
“The UNHRC has perverted its stated mandate by serially abusing Israel, while horrific human rights abuses around the world receive scant attention, if at all,” Hier and Cooper went on to say. “It consistently makes a mockery of its own mandate by serving as a rubber-stamping anti-Israel kangaroo court while providing diplomatic safe haven for state sponsors of terrorism and human rights abuse. Like its disgraced and defunct predecessor, the UN Human Rights Commission, the UN Human Rights Council in 2018 represents all that is wrong with global human rights.”
World Jewish Congress (WJC) President Ronald Lauder said, “The WJC deeply appreciates the US’ strong and unyielding support for the State of Israel, and applauds US Ambassador Nikki Haley’s courageous efforts to call out the United Nations over its continuous obsessive focus and bias against the Jewish State. By withdrawing from the inherently flawed UN Human Rights Council, the US has sent a crucial message to the international community that the repeated abuses flung against Israel, often by some of the most notorious human rights violators in the world, will not be tolerated.”
“The value of an international body committed to defending human rights cannot be understated,” Lauder added. “However, the UNHRC is marred by a blatant anti-Israel bias and a persistent blind spot, which undermines its credibility. It has been politicized and misused by those whose only goal is to demonize the State of Israel. Israel is the only country with a permanent agenda item in the UNHRC, and since the establishment of the council in 2006, it has been targeted in nearly 70 of the 135 country-specific resolutions adopted.”
“The WJC will continue to engage within the UNHRC and with the permanent representations to work toward an impartial and effective UN human rights mechanism,” Lauder concluded. “We urge the UNHRC to focus on its mandate of addressing human rights abuses worldwide and drop its disproportionate focus and obsession with Israel. We profoundly hope that the US’ decision to withdraw will lead to soul-searching among the members of the council and bring about true change from within, including the removal of Agenda Item 7 and a calculated understanding that Israel must be treated as any other country.”
B’nai B’rith International President Gary Saltzman and CEO Daniel Mariaschin said, “The United States’ decision to withdraw from the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) presents the international organization with an important opportunity for dramatic and urgently needed reform, as the steady politicization of the body has rendered it largely irrelevant at best and a destructive actor at worst.”
“Israel, the world’s only Jewish state and the only democracy in the Middle East, is the only country subjected to a separate, permanent agenda item at the UNHRC, which targets it for more condemnation and punishment than any other country on the planet,” they noted. “In a chilling echo of historic boycotts of Jews, the UNHRC has also singled out for a ‘blacklist’ Israeli and other companies doing business — often to the benefit of ordinary Palestinians — in Jewish communities in Palestinian-claimed areas that sit at the very heart of Jews’ ancestral homeland.”
“Perhaps the US withdrawal from the UNHRC will serve as a wake-up call for all UN agencies to begin a process of systemic reform, in order to return the organization to its original mission and principles of equity and fairness,” Saltzman and Mariaschin stated.
Republican Jewish Coalition National Chairman Norm Coleman said, “We applaud the Trump administration, and specifically Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, for withdrawing the United States from the UNHRC. The UNHRC should stand for human rights around the globe. Instead, it has become a club for the worst of the worst human rights violators. Since its inception it has had a permanent agenda item to debate Israel’s ‘human rights abuses.’ The UNHRC has passed 78 resolutions condemning Israel, more than it has passed against all other countries combined. Israel, of course, is the only democracy in the Middle East and the only Middle Eastern country to guarantee freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and many other freedoms that are not protected in much of the world.”
“President [George W.] Bush wisely withdrew the United States from the UNHRC during his tenure. President [Barack] Obama made a foolish mistake by rejoining,” Coleman pointed out. “We praise President Trump for fixing yet another grave mistake by President Obama and for standing up for Israel in the international arena.”
Meanwhile, J Street took a contrarian stance, claiming, “By withdrawing from the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), the Trump administration has taken another disturbing step toward abdicating the United States’ longstanding role as a principled leader in the international system, advocating for the rights and freedoms of people across the globe.”
“While the UNHRC has a sad and troubling record of showing strong bias against Israel, US withdrawal will do nothing to address this issue,” the J Street statement said. “On the contrary, it will exacerbate it. The move will simply remove remaining American leverage and influence, further undermining the interests of the US and Israel and empowering those who oppose them. Those who are embracing this decision as a rebuke to critics of Israel are favoring self-destructive spite over serious diplomacy and strategy.”
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