I sent Kamal Wickremasinghe’s article to several individuals who have a better grounding than myself in the complex jungle of international politics and Christopher Black has responded immediately to indicate that Wickramasinghe has muddled his emphasis by arguing that the Israeli tail wags the dog. In his view — presented here at the end — it is the other way about: USA calls the shots. Michael Roberts as Editor, Thuppahi.
Kamal Wickremasinghe: “Cabals behind the UNHRC inquisition,” Island, Midweek Review, 28 March 2017
The 34th sessions of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) have just ended, and another resolution on Sri Lanka adopted Resolution A/HRC/34/L.1 requests the Commissioner and his special procedure mandate holders to strengthen their technical assistance to Sri Lanka on the promotion and protection of human rights, truth, justice, reconciliation and accountability. More importantly perhaps, the resolution calls for a written update on the implementation of resolution 30/1 (of 2015) at the 37th session of the UNHRC, and a comprehensive report at its 40th session. These requirements are clearly designed to keep Sri Lanka ‘on the leash’ for the foreseeable future. Needless to say it was the hand of the global enforcer, the US that was behind these impositions on Sri Lanka. The foreign minister, in co-sponsoring the junk resolution with the self-appointed imperium may have thought, cynically, that it will soon be someone else’s problem anyway!
The latest resolution warrants an analytical look into the dark forces behind American machinations at the UN, their objectives and the methods they adopt. The task essentially becomes one of taking a close look at the crucial influence exerted by the most potent force that fashions US foreign policy implementation at the UN: the special interest group informally known as the “Israel lobby” (also called the Zionist lobby).
The Israel lobby is a collective of Jewish, fundamental Christian, and some secular American individuals and groups who seek to influence the foreign policy of the US in support of specific policies of the Israeli government. They overtly function under the very active and extremely well-financed umbrella organisation, American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). The groups in this coalition are motivated by a piquant mix of myth-based belief including ‘chosenness’, racial exclusivity, and ‘literalist’ interpretation of the Book. The largest single Israel lobby group, contrary to expectations, is the evangelical amalgam ‘Christians United for Israel’. The AIPAC juggernaut outnumbers many ‘Jews against Zionism’ amalgams spread across America thousands to one.
The simple, yet extremely efficient method deployed by the Israel lobby in achieving their aims is based on lavishly financing both sides of the American political duopoly. Over the years, the Israel lobby has managed to buy influence with US presidents of both political persuasion, virtually the entire membership of the Congress, the White House staff, and policy making levels of bureaucracy; John Kennedy has been the only president on record to have rejected the lure of the Israel lobby that has corrupted the US body politic: in “They Dare to Speak Out: People and Institutions Confront Israel’s Lobby” (p. 114), Paul Findley—a congressman from Illinois,1961-1983—narrates the story of a meeting Kennedy had with some prominent Jewish lobbyists during the presidential campaign of 1960; Kennedy is supposed to have been infuriated by the offer of a rich Jew that he and his friends would “help and help significantly” Kennedy’s campaign if, as president, Kennedy “would allow them to set the course of Middle East policy over the next four years.” Kennedy may have disagreed, but available evidence suggests that all presidential candidates before and after him have been jumping at such offers.
According to figures released by the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks financial contributions of all lobbies and political action committees (PACs), these groups doled out $18 m to Hillary Clinton, and a comparatively trifling $ 400000 to Donald Trump at the 2016 presidential elections.Individual billionaire ‘super PAC donors’—like the casino owner Sheldon Adelson who doled out $92.8 million to Republican super PACs in 2012—are important agents who ‘buy’ influence for the Israel lobby.
The method by which they exercise real control over US foreign policy however, is through ‘volunteers’ to political party offices and campaigns and other nominees who seamlessly transition in to policy-making positions in the state department and the diplomatic service,irrespective of the party that wins the elections.
Notorious individuals who infiltrated the US body politic through this method include the architects of the 2003 Iraq invasion, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle and Douglas Feith, and the earlier generation as the permanent representative at the UN, starting with Jean Kirkpatrick, the late Richard Holbrooke and Madeleine Albright. More recent examples include highly inflated figures like Samantha Power at the UN and Virginia Neuland and Nisha Biswal (a volunteer not associated with the Israel lobby – the mouse that roared!) at the state department. They have fallen off their perches recently, at the end of the Obama regime. Some appear to have crept through the barriers Donald Trump erected on this route.
The Israel lobby formally consists of groups that operate across society, organised as PACs for campaign finance, innumerable think tanks that devise national policy, and media watchdog groups who constantly monitor views and discussions on Israel and related issues on the Internet. Their singular aim is to garner stronger US support for Israel’s strategic aims in the Middle East by controlling the sources and content of debate in the US:In the landmark study “The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy” (2007), John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt observe that the historical tilt of American foreign policy strongly toward support for Israel has been caused by the Israel lobby’s control of the terms and boundaries of debate and discussion of the Middle East in American policymaking, not to mention their financing of the political apparatus; They conclude that American support for Israel does not serve America’snational interests.
Since the early 1990s, Israel’s main focus has been on regime change in its Arab neighbours such as Iraq, Libya and Syria, perceived to be too ‘strong’ to its liking. America’s commitment to carrying out this agenda—at great financial cost and cost to its reputation—demonstrates the strength of the Israel lobby’s hold on the American political system.
US at the UN for Israel
Obviously, the UN being the most important forum for enforcing US agenda on the world, the US behaviour at the UN is the primary target of the Israel lobby. The position of permanent US representative at the UN is a key target of the lobby, after the key jobs of secretary of state and foreign secretary. They routinely get to fill these positions with their agents by gaining influence with both presidential candidates and their respective parties.
As the Wikileaks revealed during the last presidential campaign, nominations for higher levels of bureaucracy following the anticipated Hillary Clinton win (that seemed a matter of course at the time) had been finalised months before the election, with declared and undeclared Israel lobbyists tipped to fill the positions. Policy ‘advisers’ supplied by the Israel lobby are routinely portrayed through corporate media as objective scholars who give neutral recommendations to the US government!
In a nutshell, the Israel lobby, armed with their own foreign policy agenda devised by the neocon think tank circuit—Council on Foreign Relations, American Enterprise Institute, Heritage Foundation—assign tasks to the US foreign policy machinery at forums like the UNHRC. The approach is generally determined by the primary aim of repelling or diverting the global condemnation of Israel’s loathsomely aggressive behaviour. There is a certain amount of vested interest too, due to American military and financial support to Israel being the ‘enabler’ of such aggression.
The US machinations to haul countries like Sri Lanka before UNHRC is borne out of this grand plan founded on the deceitful canard that Israel has long been at the receiving end of an unfair campaign of ‘Israel-bashing’ by the UN. The facts do not support any such UN bias against Israel. Contrary to such claims, Israel has been the beneficiary of some of the most favourable treatment by the UN: resolution 181 in 1947 that called for the partition of British Mandate Palestine to establish a ‘Jewish’ State was a repulsive symbol of neocolonialism that was out-of-sync (politically and racially) with the post-colonial, post-Nazi world emerging at the time.
Following Israel becoming a UN member in 1948, it has manoeuvred its way to gain full membership of the powerful Western European and Others Group. In 1991, Israel managed to repeal the resolution of November 10, 1975 which declared Zionism a “form of racism and racial discrimination”; In 2014 Israel was elected, ironically, as vice-chair of the UN Special Political and Decolonisation Committee.
The so-called Israel-bashing refers to persistent UN Member demands for ‘just’ treatment of the Palestinians—in the name of common decency—by way of an extraordinarily high number of resolutions passed since Israel forcibly occupied Palestinian land following the 1967 Six Day War and the 1973 Yom Kippur war. These resolutions have called for Israeli withdrawal from the territories occupied in 1967.
Israel has been condemned in 50 resolutions by UNHRC since its creation in 2006—almost more resolutions than on the rest of the world combined. The UN Security Council has adopted 226 resolutions relating to Israel since 1948. Six of the 10 Emergency Sessions of the General Assembly (UNGA) have been on Israel’s aggression in the Middle East. UNGA has adopted a large number of resolutions condemning Israeli actions and the US-Israel strategic relationship that encourages Israel to pursue aggressive expansionist practices. At the 2016 Sessions alone, the UNGA adopted 20 resolutions criticising Israel.
Israel has defied these demands for half a century, and naturally, Israel’s non-compliance has attracted ongoing UN focus on, and criticism of, its behaviour. The UN Middle East envoy reported on March 25, that Israel has not taken any steps to implement resolution 2334 (adopted by the UNSC on December of 2016) by halting illegal settlement building on occupied territory as demanded by the Security Council. Instead, Israel has been continuing with “a high rate” of settlement expansion in violation of international law. At the same time, Israel is complaining about UN insistence that they honour international law like all other nations. US is complicit in aiding and abetting this unlawful behaviour, and attempt to divert attention from Israel by bringing in ‘cases’ like Sri Lanka to take the heat off Israel at the UN.
US changes the UN landscape
As Israel’s all-powerful guardian at the UN, the US has been engaged in a disgraceful campaign of finding fault with UN structures and operations, withholding its membership dues and imposing conditions on UN demands for decency by Israel—while vetoing all Israel-related resolutions at the Security Council.
The appointment of the rumbustious Richard Holbrooke – in August 1999 – as permanent representative to the UN signified a new, in-your-face style of diplomacy by the US at the UN. (Holbrook who was famous for his ruthless, yet unfulfilled career ambitions, gained notoriety later as the ‘Butcher of the Balkans’, and died in 2010 of the relatively rare condition aortic dissection that affects 0.003 per cent of the people annually.
The most disgraceful of the US reaction at the UN was the adoption, in 2002, of the so-called ‘Negroponte doctrine’, of opposing all UN resolutions that condemn Israel without also condemning terrorist groups. Negroponte was the US Ambassador to Honduras from 1981 to 1985 and would have first-hand experience with terrorism, having played a key role in supporting and supervising the Nicaraguan Contras based in Honduras as well as Honduran military death squads that murdered thousands in the 1980s.
At the same time, they went about ‘reforming’ (more like re-forming) the UN Commission on Human Rights, basically as punishment for electing Muammar Gaddafi Chair in 2003. Two years later, the US-compliant UN Secretary General Kofi Annan —singing from the Israeli hymn book—called for scrapping of the commission alleging it was politicised, selective, and had lost credibility. (Just before the end of his second term as secretary general, Ban Ki-moon carried on the tradition of US lap dogs by telling the Security Council on December 17, 2016 that the UN has had a “disproportionate focus on Israel”.
The reforming of the UN human rights mechanisms to include what is referred to as the ‘Special Procedures’ consisting of hoards of special rapporteurs, independent experts, and working group members drawn from the INGO movement, empowered with specific country and thematic mandates, was a cynical plot aimed at exploiting conflicts in the poor world, arising from economic insufficiency rather than through deeply-entrenched racial and other prejudice or disrespect for human rights.
Historical proof that action on Sri Lanka was a diversion
The woman who led the US neocon campaign against Sri Lanka at the UNHRC in 2014, Paula Schriefer, embodied the US Zionist lobby’s relentless campaign to shield Israel from criticism at UN forums, especially at the UNHCR. A seasoned operator with experience at a number of CIA Human Rights fronts like Freedom House and the NED, and Zionist think-tanks for nearly two decades, Schriefer ‘fell from the skies’ in to Obama’s foreign policy team of 2009 as a politically appointed secretary at state department.
They reversed George W. Bush’s boycott of the UNHRC and started working from within the UNHRC to achieve their ends. A rare glimpse in to the neocon conspiracy at the UNHRC was provided by Schriefer during a talk at the neocon Mecca, the Brookings Institution, on July 11,2012. Detailing her achievements in the first three months in the job and three years following the US re-entry into the UNHRC, Schriefer saw her mission as essentially to address the “continuing problems with the council’s tendency to single out Israel” by shifting focus to Iran and renewing special procedure mandates on Sudan, Somalia, North Korea and others.
Schriefer arrogantly used the March 2012 anti-Sri Lankan resolution as “an excellent example” of what the US has been able to achieve at the UNHRC. She claimed that they managed to “completely break down” the Non-Aligned voting bloc. Schriefer interpreted India’s 2012 vote against Sri Lanka as a demonstration of the impact of “civil society outreach” on parliament members in Tamil Nadu. She used the example to show the power of NGOs and the need to nurture NGOs in emerging democracies.
US at the 34th Session of UNHRC (March, 2017)
The 34th Sessions was the first UN event for the newly appointed permanent UN representative Nikki Haley, another American of supposed ethnic Indian extraction. She will be assisted by none-other-than Michele Sison who was a key player in affecting regime change in Sri Lanka in 2015. A team headed by these two will be determining Sri Lanka’s fortunes at the UNHRC in the coming years, making it dependent upon the trajectory of Israel’s fortunes. This is the reason behind the US decision to allow another two years for Sri Lanka to hang itself!
Haley was a little-known representative of the South Carolina state legislature until she became governor of South Carolina in 2010.She has no foreign policy experience that would have prepared her to contribute to US policy toward global issues. Haley’s appointment came despite her backing Trump’s contender Marco Rubio for Republican nomination at the last presidential elections process. But she was chosen because she had played her cards right: she outlawed the vibrant Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel in her state of South Carolina—on grounds that it resembled “Nazi” tactics. She championed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s objections to Barack Obama’s 2014 Iran nuclear deal. During the Senate hearings of her appointment, Haley slammed the Obama administration for allowing the December 2016 UN Security Council resolution that condemned Israeli settlement expansion. Haley even pledged her support for moving the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, so far resisted by the US as too explosive a measure.
Things bode well for Haley when the Senate confirmed her nomination for the UN job without much scrutiny; It is doubtful whether her credentials for the job would have held up to any serious scrutiny. But the Israeli lobby spoke when Sen. Ben Cardin, a Jew from Maryland and Democrat on the committee, praised Haley for her promises at the confirmation hearings to strongly support Israel at the UN and to keep Israel’s interests “close at heart”.
Nikki Haley has initiated a seemingly accelerated campaign against UN demands for decency from Israel, by denouncing the UN, at the very beginning of her stint, for focusing ‘only on’ Israel—the only democracy in the Middle East according to her—without questioning Syria, Iran, or North Korea. Sri Lanka has been among the list of alleged perpetrators “committing gross and systematic human rights abuses” included in the previous Israeli and US rants (together with China, Cuba, Egypt, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Yemen and Zimbabwe) about the ‘persecution’ of Israel. Judging by Haley’s fervour of devotion to Israel, she is unlikely to spare Sri Lanka when the next UN resolution comes up for discussion at the plenary stage.
Since assuming duties, Nikki Haley has displayed strong loyalties to Israel that are likely to please her benefactors to no end: She vetoed Secretary General Antonio Guterres’ choice of the former Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad as UN envoy to Libya. She expressed ‘outrage’ on the recent UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) report that outlined the details of Israel’s of apartheid system that constitutes a crime against humanity under customary international law and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. Haley personally attacked its author Richard Falk—a renowned campaigner against Israeli aggression. She capped it all by ordering the Palestinian Authority’s envoy to the UN, Riyad Mansour, in her first meeting, ordering him not to look to the UN for a solution and that they must meet with Israel in direct negotiations. The US boycotted a session at the Human Rights Council that focused on the permanent agenda item 7 on Palestine and other occupied Arab territories, but voted against the anti-Israel resolutions. State Department announced that the continued existence of this agenda item is among the largest threats to the credibility of the Council.
Interesting times ahead for Sri Lanka
The persistence of US and Israeli attacks on the UN in general, and the undermining of individual member countries outside the forum (as in the case of Sri Lanka) appear to be yielding results from their perspective: demands for Israeli decency has decreased, from 60 per cent of the country-specific resolutions passed by the HRC in 2006 to 40 per cent in 2009 (when the US re-joined the HRC), to just 20 percent in 2016. A large part of this shift was caused by inquisition on Sri Lanka that rose to prominence between 2012 and 2015, taking away the heat from Israel.
Judging by the performance of the new UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, he appears to be following the path of ‘strict compliance’ with US interests, impositions and agendas, similar to other Lap Dogs like Kofi Annan and Ban ki Moon:he acted meekly and relatively quickly to distance the UN from the ESCWA report on Israeli apartheid, saying it was released without prior consultation with the UN secretariat. His spokesman Stephane Dujarric—a Georgian national and an alumni of the US foreign policy degree factory, the Georgetown University, who has strong US connections— provided another mealy-mouthed response.
There are signs that the UK, ‘special relation’ of the US, is going to step up its backing of Israel at the UN: speaking immediately after the UNHRC had approved four resolutions condemning Israeli actions against the Palestinians, UK Ambassador to the UN Julian Braithwaite announced that the UK was putting the UNHRC ‘on notice’ for its biased treatment of Israel, and for failing to condemn Palestinian terrorism. Braithwaite warned that the UK would follow the US in rejecting all resolutions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict if the UNHRC did not treat Israel ‘proportionally’. He also took issue with the UNHRC mandate to debate Israeli human rights abuses at every session under Agenda Item 7.
The cunning plans of the US Israel lobby—backed by the UK and Europe—are focused on strengthening Israel’s’ land grab in the West bank and East Jerusalem, without acceding to global demands for just treatment of the Palestinians. Their schemes will need countries like Sri Lanka and other countries with festering internal issues to be used as ‘lightning rods’. To that effect, other arms of the octopus, like the US embassy in Colombo will work ‘on the ground’ to frustrate government efforts of national reconciliation and effective settlement of the issue.
Under the circumstances only Russia and China have the capability to ward off US efforts against Sri Lanka, by ultimately vetoing any attempts to impose sanctions at the Security Council level, and by forcing a ‘just’ settlement for the Palestinians, that would take Israel out of the equation. The call, earlier in the year, of the Chinese President Xi Jinping called for a Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem was a pointer to where the Chinese sentiments seem to lie.
Looking more broadly at the issues from a broader geopolitical perspective, Israel should be thankful to the world for agreeing to allow the formation of a racially-based country so soon after the abhorrent experience of colonialism and Nazism. They need to remember that they are the only racially exclusive society in the world today. Israelis from Holocaust survivors to prime ministers have long warned that the country was already, or risked becoming, an apartheid state. Disgracefully, those fears appear to have been realised.
The best way for Israel to eliminate the perceived bias of the UN including Agenda Item 7 would be to stop its human rights abuses and withdraw from the occupied territories. Failing that, states, international organisations, and civil society groups will be obligated to impose sanctions and other punitive measures to compel Israel to bring its actions into compliance with international law.
No amount of ‘scheming’ would yield a different result.
*** End ***
Christopher Black: A Memo in Response to the Wickremasinghe Essay, 31 March 2017
The article is right to point out all the connections between Israel and
> the US and inside the UN used to get their way and there is no doubt that
> Israel tries to influence the US to continue its support of Israel but it
> seems to me that, like many of these articles they have the tail wagging
> the dog. The US is only a supporter of Israel so long as Israel acts as
> its armed fist in the middle east. The US supplies much of the funds for
> the Israel defence forces and most of the weapons. A nation fo 5 million
> (3 million Jews or so) does not control a nation of 350 million. The idea
> is absurd on the face of it.
> The US and Israeli interests coincide, control of the middle east-so the
> US is easily influenced to continue a policy it already decide upon when
> it supported the creation of Israel in the first place. This article and
> many others make it seem as the US government was an innocent dupe taken
> over by Israeli agents to act in the interests of Israel. People who
> think that do not understand the big picture or history.
> *** ***
Michael Roberts: “A Thought: Persons of Colour in USA’s Heights,” 1 April 2017
As an ignoramus in these fields I an fascinated by the striking evidence of persons of colour emerging from the liberals arts stream of US education who have been placed in key positions in the corridors of foreign policy in dark-skinned locations such as Sri Lanka. I am thinking of recent ambassadorial appointments in Sri Lanka such as Atul Keshap and Michele Sison; but can point to Susan Rice in a more powerful position early on …. And, of course, there was one Barack Obama as the good ships’ captain for eight years or so.
The issue that arises for observers beyond the inner circles is this: do outsiders such as persons of colour who are brought into the inner WASP and Jewish circles seek to be more deeply true to the liturgies of power within these circles? Very difficult to answer that question.
- Interview with Christopher Black at the Rhodes Forum, 13 November 2014, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v-fvd0mwmV8
- Island Editorial 2015 “When will they ever learn, long time passing,” https://thuppahis.com/2015/11/16/when-will-they-ever-learn-long-time-passing-in-france-and-europ
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- Roberts, Michael: “HRW in Syria and Sri Lanka: Moral Fervour generating Political Blindness and Partisanship,” 3 January 201,. https://thuppahis.com/2017/01/03/hrw-in-syria-and-sri-lanka-moral-fervour-generating-political-blindness-and-partisanship/#more-23792
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- Roberts, Michael 2015a “Targeting Sri Lanka by playing ball with Tamil Extremism,” 24 July 2015, https://thuppahis.com/wpadmin/post.php?post=17127&action=edit&postpost=v2
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- Stephen Wertheim: “A solution from hell: the United States and the rise of humanitarian interventionism, 1991–2003,” Journal of Genocide Research (2010), 12(3–4),
September–December 2010, 149–172
- Samantha Power: A Problem from Hell, New York: Perennial, 2003./