Senators Barbara Boxer, Dianne Feinstein: Different Routes In Backing Israel
Posted Aug. 9, 2014, 8:49 am
Tom Elias / Mirror Columnist
Few things in a rather absurd world are more deserving of ridicule than the United Nations Human Rights Council, a 47-nation group that includes some of the world’s leading human rights violators, from China and Cuba to Kuwait, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela, to take just a few in alphabetical order.
Thus it was completely appropriate when Democratic U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer recruited a bipartisan group of 35 fellow senators to sign a letter to the U.N. secretary general protesting the Human Rights Council’s announced investigation into alleged war crimes by Israel during its latest campaign in Gaza.
It was equally unsurprising the U.N. group would single out Israel, as it often has. What else would you expect from an outfit that includes China and Saudi Arabia, among the leading suppliers and financiers of Hamas, designated a terrorist group by all recent American presidents even as it rules the 25-by-seven mile Gaza Strip?
The surprise was the absence of California’s other Democratic senator, Dianne Feinstein, from the signers of the Boxer letter.
Every senator had a chance to sign this letter, and it was inked by some of the most liberal, like Boxer and Maryland’s Barbara Mikulski, as well as some of the most conservative, like Utah’s Mike Lee and Oklahoma’s Tom Coburn.
But the Senate’s top brass, Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky did not sign. Maybe Feinstein, chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, didn’t want to break with Reid. Foreign Relations Committee Chair Robert Menendez of New Jersey also did not sign.
Feinstein’s non-explanation: “I strongly supported passage of (a resolution) which condemned the U.N. Human Rights Council vote...which made no mention of Hamas’ indiscriminate rocket attacks and policy of using Palestinian civilians as human shields. I believe support for this resolution is the correct course of action in this case.” The resolution, passed three days before the Boxer letter was sent last week.
Feinstein, long a steadfast Israel supporter, did not quarrel with anything in the far more specific Boxer letter, co-written by Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire.
The open letter to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said “The fact that there was no call for an investigation into actions by Hamas – including indiscriminate and deliberate rocket attacks on Israeli civilians and intentionally putting Palestinians in harm’s way – is …wholly unacceptable as it turn(s) a blind eye to Hamas’ brazen and depraved use of civilians as human shields (and) the tunnels it has built to cause mayhem in Israel.”
The letter also noted that the U.N. group ignored the missiles other U.N. personnel discovered hidden in some of its schools in the Gaza Strip, along with those stored or fired from homes, hospitals and mosques. Nor, the letter said, did the Human Rights Commission mention that Hamas officials have stopped Palestinian civilians at gunpoint when they tried to leave areas Israel warned them to evacuate prior to strikes or artillery fire.
The questionable council also claims most Palestinians dead have been civilians, an allegation based wholly on Hamas’ reports. One analysis of the fatalities by the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting instead shows 57 percent of all war dead have been males aged 17 to 39, which that group says suggests most of the dead have really been combatants.
The Boxer letter also stresses that it’s Hamas which has repeatedly broken cease-fires and put Palestinians in danger. It notes the entire campaign started with persistent rocket fire from Gaza that did not stop despite numerous warnings from Israel. “The fact that Israel has effective defenses against the rockets aimed at its citizens is no excuse to overlook Hamas’ hostile behavior,” Boxer said.
Hamas’ behavior, of course, has been consistent with its charter, which states that “Israel will exist (only) until Islam will obliterate it” and that “The Day of Judgment will not come about until Moslems fight and kill the Jews.” Not just Israelis, the charter says, but all Jews.
The behavior of Hamas is no mystery, nor is the bias of the U.N.’s ludicrous Human Rights Commission. The mystery is why Feinstein didn’t join in calling both of them out in very specific terms, as did Boxer and dozens of their fellow senators.