Tuesday, March 03, 2009

"A Close Watch"

What we're watching -- what must be watched -- is the Obama administration.

First, a return to the Durban issue, in several respects.

I wish to make it clear (in case it was not already so) that I do not for a moment believe that the US delegation that went to participate in the Durban 2 planning withdrew because they really tried to improve the situation and could not. The evidence is strong, from several sources, that they didn't try. My assumption remains that they pulled out because so much noise had been made. Or because they hadn't done their homework and didn't know how bad the document that was being put together really was until they got there, at which point they said, a bit belatedly, "Uh oh, this is not a good scene."
Anne Bayefsky, of Eye on the UN, has written some follow-up on the matter, which has been picked up by Melanie Phillips -- and which some of you have contacted me about.

Bayefsky says the withdrawal was not unequivocal. In an article she wrote for Forbes she describes what she refers to as "double-dealing" by the Obama administration, which first left Jewish organizations with the impression that the US was pulling out, and then left human rights organizations with the impression that this might not be final.

The statement put out this past Friday night by the State Department and as described by Bayefsky:

"...the current text of the draft outcome document is not salvageable," and "the United States will not ... participate in a conference based on this text," but we will "re-engage if a document that meets [our] criteria becomes the basis for deliberations." A new version must be: "shorter," "not reaffirm in toto the flawed 2001 Durban Declaration," "not single out any one country or conflict," and "not embrace the troubling concept of "defamation of religion."

Yes, this indicates a lack of straight dealing. For me it also represents a sort of hypocritical face-saving.

The reason I was not alarmed by this is because I do not for an instant believe the committee will make any adjustments or that the US delegation will again participate. These are words that are likely moot. Does this teach us not to trust the Obama administration? I think many (most) of us had already learned this lesson.


But Bayefsky makes an important point about this statement: This equivocating, which carefully avoids a clear, solid condemnation of what is going on in Geneva, has caused confusion among other nations that are trying to decide whether to attend or not and were seeking US leadership on the matter. The US statement that says a partial Durban Declaration might be OK has not helped.


Yet another part of the State Department statement is exceedingly worrisome and not moot at all: The US plans to participate in the UN Human Rights Council.

Bayefsky says this is "a consolation prize for Durban enthusiasts" and "an attempt to downplay a major move." Obama has simply traded participation in one virulently anti-Israel forum for another.

State Department officials are saying they want to move beyond being observers to securing a seat on the Council, subject to the "likelihood of successful elections." Successful elections indeed! The Council members would welcome the legitimacy conferred on them by US participation. And to acquire this legitimacy without a US demand that there first be reforms. What a gift.

Is the US now going to sit in on meetings in this venue, in which Israel is consistently torn apart? Bayefsky has been monitoring this horrendous group closely:

"The Council -- controlled by the Organization of the Islamic Conference -- has adopted more condemnations of Israel than [of] all other 191 U.N. states combined, while terminating human rights investigations on the likes of Iran, Cuba and Belarus."

See a video of a statement made by Hillel Neuer of UN Watch at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uhWgZu6tcZU


It should be noted that the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navanethem Pillay, of South Africa, has praised the preparatory proceedings for the Durban 2 Conference. She was not ashamed to do so even though a draft of the closing statement prepared for Durban 2 states that Israel's policy in the Palestinian areas constitutes a "violation of international human rights, a crime against humanity and a contemporary form of apartheid."

These groups are incestuous, not independent of each other.

So, forget Durban, it's time to get out protests regarding US participation in the UN Human Rights Council.


To locate your congresspersons:


To locate your senators:


Returning, briefly, to the matter of Chas. Freeman. I would like, first, to clarify the fact that Freeman was appointed not by President Obama, but by the Director of National Intelligence, Admiral Dennis Blair, himself a somewhat controversial figure, appointed to his new position by Obama in January.

Thus, some official questions regarding Freeman's appointment have now been directed to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence -- to DNI Inspector General Edward Maguire, specifically.

I have become aware of two letters now sent to Maguire regarding Freeman's appointment. One is from Congressman Steve Israel (D-2nd NY) -- a member of the Select Oversight Panel of the House Appropriations Committee -- who has asked for an investigation into Freeman's ties with Saudi Arabia. The second is from Congressman Mark Kirk (R-10th IL), who is asking for a review of any conflicts of interest Freeman may have, as the Middle East Policy Council, which Freeman headed, has received money from Saudi Arabia.

The preliminary (and I would say sorely inadequate) response from the DNI was that all appointees are vetted.

It's important to keep the heat on here, as well. Mention this issue to your elected representatives. And, please, contact Congressmen Israel and Kirk with a word of appreciation for their vigilance.


Congressman Israel
Phone: 202-225-3335 Fax: 202-225-4669

Congressman Kirk
Phone: 202-225-4835 Fax: 202-225-0837


At a meeting in Cairo of Arab foreign ministers, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal called for a joint Arab strategy to deal with the Iranian challenge." Iran is exceedingly worrisome to the Saudis, Egypt and others. Good to see this movement.


In a press conference here in Jerusalem today, Secretary of State Clinton said, "We intend to do all that we can to deter and prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons." I'd like to know what "all that we can" means in real terms.


A PA official today opined that if the two-state solution doesn't become viable soon," the entire notion of the two states and the diplomatic process in general will collapse."

Of course, the message they intend to deliver to Sec. Clinton shortly is that it is our fault for having elected a right wing government that will not cooperate. They would rather not focus on the refusal of Hamas to stop launching rockets or to recognize Israel's right to exist.

But Clinton actually got it right today, saying, "The first step is a durable peace, but that can only be achieved if Hamas ceases the rocket attacks."

As Arutz Sheva put it: "Unlike previous American messages that sought a 'balance' in blame, she did not couple the halt of attacks with the issue of Gaza border crossings".


Our air force hit at strategic targets inside of Gaza today, for the first time in day. Rocket launchings have been escalating.

see my website www.ArlenefromIsrael.info

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