In 2006, the United Nations established a Human Rights Council and set a schedule of its meeting three times each year, charged with the task of addressing abuses of human rights among the UN’s 192 member states. Its purview was based on Article 7 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states: “All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law.”
Over the past nine-and-a-half years, 55 resolutions issued by the council have denounced infractions at dozens of spots across the globe. What is alarming, however, is that this worldwide number of reprimands has been exceeded by 60 attacks upon the one Middle Eastern country that, in fact, is striving to be a democracy: Israel. In contrast to its neighbors, Israel seeks to safeguard freedom of assembly, of dissent, of the press, and of religious expression. Israel also makes efforts to defend the rights of women, of gays and lesbians, and of vulnerable minorities.
So why have there been 62 anti-Israel resolutions issued by the Human Rights Council? Nine of 10 permanent “items” in the council agenda appropriately address generic areas of global concern: inequality in the economic, civic, social, and cultural realms and discrimination in the form of racism, xenophobia, and intolerance. The last of the “items” uniquely singles out one nation-state for constant admonishment: the Jewish state. This past week’s meeting, for example, approved five additional anti-Israel measures by council members representing countries well known for abuse of their citizens (e.g., Cuba, China, Ethiopia, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates). Similarly unjust was the council’s designation of a renowned opponent of Israel’s existence as a Jewish state, Michael Lynk, as special rapporteur on the situation of Palestinian human rights.
As noted by Yair Lapid, leader of the Yesh Atid Party, at a rally in Geneva protesting the infamous “Item #7” — which makes Israel a permanent item on the council’s agenda — “400,000 murdered in Syria, tens of thousands murdered in Iraq, in Libya, in Afghanistan — and the Council condemns Israel. Women are raped in Rwanda, Sudan, and across the Middle East — and the Council condemns Israel. People are beheaded [by ISIS] and women are forced into slavery — and the Council condemns Israel,” Lapid said.
Emblematic of the council’s unjust proceedings was its approval of a resolution demanding that Israel return the Golan Heights — to whom? ISIS? Assad? Iran? — in order to ensure the protection of the human rights of its residents!
It is long overdue for us to end our silence and to protest this distortion of institutional decency. Let us join Lapid, the World Zionist Organization, and the government of Israel in calling upon UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to assert his authority and eliminate Item #7. Let us also call upon the members of the United States Congress, as the primary funder of the United Nations, to demand just proceedings by the Human Rights Council. Let us add our names to the petition calling for “Human Rights for the Human Rights Council” through the removal of the biased Item #7.
Purim has just concluded; let’s remember its most urgent lesson — the necessity of standing up against the enemies of the Jewish people.