American U.N. Rights Envoy Calls Fight Against Anti-Israel Bias a 'Key Priority'

Keith Harper Stresses Need for Engagement With Council

getty images

By JTA

Published July 10, 2014.
  • Print
  • Share Share

The new U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Council said battling anti-Israel bias on the body was a “key priority.”

Keith Harper, addressing a conference of pro-Israel groups meeting in the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, also advocated for continued U.S. engagement on the council.

Of the council’s anti-Israel bias, Harper said, “It’s not going to be easy, this bias is deep, its continual, its structural. No country should have to deal with the kind of bias that has occurred with the council from year to year.”

A number of Republicans have advocated leaving the council because of its bias, which was the policy of President George W. Bush’s administration, but the Obama administration policy has been to engage in a bid to temper the bias and build alliances on other human rights issues.

“What we have seen in the last few years about those things that we care deepest about in human rights is that engagement is better than disengagement,” said Harper, who was confirmed last month and has already had meetings with his Israeli counterpart in Geneva, Eviatar Manor. “When we engage we can use U.S. leadership with our partners, including Israel, to advance human rights all over the world.”

Harper is the first Native American to be confirmed to a U.S. ambassadorial post. The conference he attended, the July 9 Symposium, was in protest of what organizers called the “unjust” International Court of Justice decision in 2004 against Israel’s security fence.

Groups participating included B’nai B’rith International, EMET, the Louis D. Brandeis Center and the Jewish Federations of North America. Israel’s ambassador to Washington, Ron Dermer, also addressed the event.

A special meeting of the U.N.’s Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People was held Wednesday to mark the 10th anniversary of the International Court of Justice decision. A statement read on behalf of U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the meeting called on Israel and the Palestinians to “abide by their obligations under international law and to refrain from any actions that could further escalate this highly tense situation.”


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • “The Black community was resistant to the Jewish community coming into the neighborhood — at first.” Watch this video about how a group of gardeners is rebuilding trust between African-Americans and Jews in Detroit.
  • "I am a Jewish woman married to a non-Jewish man who was raised Catholic, but now considers himself a “common-law Jew.” We are raising our two young children as Jews. My husband's parents are still semi-practicing Catholics. When we go over to either of their homes, they bow their heads, often hold hands, and say grace before meals. This is an especially awkward time for me, as I'm uncomfortable participating in a non-Jewish religious ritual, but don't want his family to think I'm ungrateful. It's becoming especially vexing to me now that my oldest son is 7. What's the best way to handle this situation?" http://jd.fo/b4ucX What would you do?
  • Maybe he was trying to give her a "schtickle of fluoride"...
  • It's all fun, fun, fun, until her dad takes the T-Bird away for Shabbos.
  • "Like many Jewish people around the world, I observed Shabbat this weekend. I didn’t light candles or recite Hebrew prayers; I didn’t eat challah or matzoh ball soup or brisket. I spent my Shabbat marching for justice for Eric Garner of Staten Island, Michael Brown of Ferguson, and all victims of police brutality."
  • Happy #NationalDogDay! To celebrate, here's a little something from our archives:
  • A Jewish couple was attacked on Monday night in New York City's Upper East Side. According to police, the attackers flew Palestinian flags.
  • "If the only thing viewers knew about the Jews was what they saw on The Simpsons they — and we — would be well served." What's your favorite Simpsons' moment?
  • "One uncle of mine said, 'I came to America after World War II and I hitchhiked.' And Robin said, 'I waited until there was a 747 and a kosher meal.'" Watch Billy Crystal's moving tribute to Robin Williams at last night's #Emmys:
  • "Americans are much more focused on the long term and on the end goal which is ending the violence, and peace. It’s a matter of zooming out rather than debating the day to day.”
  • "I feel great sorrow about the fact that you decided to return the honor and recognition that you so greatly deserve." Rivka Ben-Pazi, who got Dutchman Henk Zanoli recognized as a "Righteous Gentile," has written him an open letter.
  • Is there a right way to criticize Israel?
  • From The Daily Show to Lizzy Caplan, here's your Who's Jew guide to the 2014 #Emmys. Who are you rooting for?
  • “People at archives like Yad Vashem used to consider genealogists old ladies in tennis shoes. But they have been impressed with our work on indexing documents. Now they are lining up to work with us." This year's Jewish Genealogical Societies conference took place in Utah. We got a behind-the-scenes look:
  • What would Maimonides say about Warby Parker's buy-one, give-one charity model?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.