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Op-Ed - White House Meeting With Israel: A Chance to Set the Record Straight


Location: Washington, DC

Written by Representative Peter Roskam and Representative Eric Cantor

Published by Politico on July 6, 2010

A true demonstration of thoughtful diplomacy requires that we abandon the charade of the Human Rights Council and stand up for true protections of the world's most vulnerable.

Tuesday's White House summit between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu provides an opportunity for the president to mend the rift his administration has helped create between the United States and Israel, our most strategic and only democratic ally in the volatile Middle East.

Members of Congress, from both sides of the aisle, and observers worldwide, will be watching to see how this meeting compares with the White House's snub in March, that left Netanyahu, almost literally, hat in hand in the White House front hall.

This meeting allows the Obama administration to set the record straight and demonstrate the United States' strong support for Israel's right to defend itself in the May 31 flotilla incident -- and also from the subsequent denunciations led by the U.N. Human Rights Council.

The Israeli Navy, enforcing an arms embargo against Hamas terrorists, was forced into a deadly conflict on May 31 off the Gaza coast by an assortment of Islamic extremists acting as humanitarian aid workers.

These activists, many of whom are members of the radical Islamic organization Insani Yardim Vakfi and support the Union for Good -- recognized by Washington as a terrorist organization in 2008 -- provoked the Israeli embargo in a premeditated strategy.

Before the ships set sail, Israel offered to help organize a land transfer of humanitarian goods into Gaza. This is standard practice for Israel -- which imposes the naval blockade to ensure weapons are not smuggled into Gaza for use against Israel. In fact, over the last 18 months, more than a million tons of humanitarian supplies have entered Gaza from Israel.

As video footage clearly shows, however, the Israeli commandos were forced to defend themselves with firearms only after sustaining attacks from knife- and pipe-wielding "aid workers."

Despite this evidence, the U.N. Human Rights Council continues to direct its time and energy attacking Israel. Its goal is clear: Bring so much pressure to bear on Israel that the Jewish state will no longer take the measures necessary to defend its citizens from terrorism.

But Washington can't allow that to happen.

We urge the president to not only stand with Israel and boycott any biased U.N. Human Rights Council investigation, but to reverse course and pull the United States out of the Human Rights Council.

America's presence lends credence to a council which, with a straight face, has adopted 40 condemnations of countries since 2006 -- 33 focused on Israel.

Libya, that bastion of political and personal freedom, currently chairs the Human Rights Council. Under its leadership, no mention of grave offenses in Algeria, China, Cuba, Egypt, Iran, Libya, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela and Zimbabwe was made in 2010.

The president took a bold gamble last year by joining the Human Rights Council. Supporters claim that, by joining the organization tasked with "enforcing human rights around the world," Washington would be able to steer the course of hearings, resolutions and investigations.

But from the Durban II conference, to last year's Goldstone Report and now the flotilla discussion, it is clear that the Human Rights Council is only a bad joke.

Rather than having any formative role in directing a more rational look at global human rights, Washington's participation has lent credence to a sanctimonious organization that directs unwarranted attacks at our friend and ally, Israel.

A true demonstration of thoughtful diplomacy requires that we abandon the charade of the Human Rights Council and stand up for true protections of the world's most vulnerable.

Announcing that the United States was leaving the U.N. Human Rights Council in Israel's defense would do just that.

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