Nations in Glass Houses

True to form, the U.N. has seized on the conflict in Gaza as yet another opportunity to bash Israel.

During the second week of Operation Protective Edge, the United Nations Human Rights Council voted 29 to 1 to investigate Israel’s possible violations of international law during its campaign in Gaza. The lone opposing vote was that of the United States. Seventeen other countries abstained from voting.

Let’s take a look at the track record of some of the nations — those “paragons” of protecting human rights — who voted for an investigation of Israel for human rights violations. The very fact that these criminal nations are members of the council makes as much sense as it would have made to appoint Nuremberg trials defendants as judges in war-crimes trials. In fact, it would be difficult to find a more evil and inhumane set of nations than those who voted for the investigation.

One of those who voted in favor was Saudi Arabia, one of the most flagrant abusers of human rights in the world. According to Human Rights Watch, the desert kingdom detains thousands without trial, abuses foreigners and violently suppresses peaceful protests. Of course, no religion other than Islam is practiced in Saudi Arabia, but even other branches of Islam are barely tolerated: the nation’s secret police routinely harasses and arrests members of its Shia minority.

Neither is freedom of expression, in the form of criticism of its authoritarian government, tolerated. Human rights activists are tortured, sentenced to long prison terms or murdered. A prominent human rights activist, Waleed Abu al-Khair, was sentenced on June 6 to 15 years in prison for his outspoken criticism of Saudi human rights abuses. Saudi Arabia is a great place — as long as you don’t open your mouth, and make sure to practice Wahhabi Islam.

Saudi Arabia has no official penal code, which means judges have the right to convict defendants without citing legal precedents. Charges change at the whim of the court, giving the defendant little chance of developing a coherent defense strategy. Judges often deny defendants legal counsel or don’t permit lawyers to question witnesses.

Cuba is another member of the council that voted for an investigation of Israel’s military actions in Gaza. That Cuba is a member of the council is another travesty. For more than 50 years, Cuba brooked no dissent of its government that had been ruled by Fidel Castro and now is led by his brother Raul. Human rights activists are detained without charges, denied visits by family and counsel, and are jailed in horrific conditions. In a 2006 report put out by Human Rights Watch, Cuba was heavily criticized for deliberately placing political prisoners close to others infected with tuberculosis. Political prisoners are stuffed into overcrowded, unsanitary cells riddled with insects and vermin.

There’s not enough room on this page to list the human rights abuses of the others who voted to support the investigation, but here are some of the countries which did: China, Pakistan, Russia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates — a veritable Who’s Who of human rights violators.

And if the U.N. gets its way, it will have another repressive nation to join its ranks. The U.N. General Assembly declared in 2012 that it recognizes a Palestinian state. What kind of a state would that be? One with religious freedom and expression? Of course not. The current Palestinian governments — the PA and Hamas — are repressive regimes which deny those under their control any form of freedom of speech or due process. Human Rights Watch cites Hamas’ systemic torture of political prisoners. Hamas routinely executes prisoners based on confessions extracted through torture. The so-called “moderate” PA is not much better. Some journalists critical of the Abbas government have been detained without trial and physically assaulted.

Hypocrisy is one thing, but paying for this absurd Human Rights Council — this council composed of repressive states that only want to see the end of the only democracy in the Middle East — is quite another. Yet American taxpayers do pay billions to support the U.N., an organization that’s obsessed with condemning Israel and often is not supportive of the U.S. in its efforts to promote democracy. In 2010 — the year of the last official accounting by the Obama administration — the U.S. paid more than $7 billion to the U.N. To add insult to injury, the GAO reported that U.N. officials earn more than their U.S. counterparts with similar positions — and their earnings are tax free! Why is the U.S. paying for this monument of hypocrisy and anti-Semitism that occupies some of the most valuable real estate in the world? The U.S. Congress should pull the financial rug out from under this organization. The U.N. and its so-called Human Rights Council is an embarrassment to humanity.