America's Shameful Lonely Vote
MPAC DC News & Views
This week, President Barack Obama's National Security Advisor Susan Rice delivered remarks to the National Jewish Leaders Assembly in Washington, D.C., which were nothing short of a series of blindly one-sided comments.
The administration is apparently so insecure about maintaining Israel's approval of us that Rice felt it necessary to mention America's support for and friendship with Israel more than a dozen times. In fact, Rice went so far as to brag about the U.S.' lonely "no" vote against a United Nations Human Rights Council resolution to establish an independent inquiry into allegations that Israel violated international humanitarian and human rights laws. "We were the lone vote in the Human Rights Council," Rice said. "It was 29-1. But the '1,' as usual, was America."
Voting "no" in the Human Rights Council is diminishing the role of human rights on this issue. Further, our role in voting against the resolution intimidated our closest allies into abstaining from the vote. This is not the first time the U.S. has undermined international efforts to deal with this conflict. In 2012, Rice, then the U.S. Ambassador to the UN voted against granting Palestine non-member observer state status citing it places, "further obstacles in the path of peace."
Furthermore, Rice contradicted several reports of the truth on how this latest invasion emanated. In her remarks, Rice stated, "President Obama has been equally clear about who has been responsible for the violence. Hamas fired the rockets. Hamas deliberately targeted Israeli citizens, particularly civilians. Hamas refused an early plan for a ceasefire. So Hamas initiated this conflict. And, Hamas has dragged it on." In fact, the Times of Israel reported that Israel broke the 2012 ceasefire with Hamas. On June 30, Hamas fired rockets into Israel, for the first time since 2012, in response to "an Israeli airstrike several hours earlier which killed one person and injured three more." So, to say that Hamas started this military offensive is erroneous.
Secretary of State John Kerry's trip to the Middle East to push for an immediate ceasefire -- which would be in Israel's interests -- was scorned by the Israeli press. Rice made a valiant six-sentence effort to defend Kerry. But, in the end, facing the disapproval of these efforts, Rice was quick to default to her talking points and reassurance of uncritical support. Her statements and the Administration's actions have undermined our role as an honest broker.
Rice highlighted Obama's instruction to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel to inform Congress that the "U.S. supports an additional $225 million to accelerate the production of Iron Dome components in Israel this year and maintain Israel's stockpile of interceptor missiles." Rather than dealing with the issue of slaughtering civilians and children in Gaza, the U.S. should be suspending military aid to Israel which is being used to kill three civilians for every one Hamas target.
The international community admonished Israel in their offensive against Gaza in the Human Rights Council. Rice should have focused on the humanitarian crisis in Gaza affecting more than 1.8 million people instead of bragging about our shameful vote. This vote is a stain on our record and a breach of trust with the American people. In the face of more than 1,400 Palestinian deaths, which is likely to rise as dead bodies are being recovered under the rubble, Rice should have spoken about these abysmal realities and what we can do to reach a just and peaceful solution and to end these atrocities. America and Americans deserve better. The world deserves better.
[Contact: Hoda Elshishtawy, National Policy Analyst, firstname.lastname@example.org (202) 547-7701]