Opinion: Biden’s dysfunctional human rights policy

The Biden administration has an awfully strange approach to human rights.

By David Isaac, World Israel News

President Joe Biden has taken a peculiar approach to human rights. Where he can’t make a difference, he talks big. When he can make a difference, he acts wrongly.

Biden could make a difference with the Palestinians by exacting a price for their misdeeds. Rather than follow Trump’s lead, which would mean continuing to hold back aid until they change their terror-loving ways, Biden’s first move was to announce he’s reinstating it.

In a rhetorical slight of hand, Biden separates the Palestinian leadership from the Palestinian people. U.S. Ambassador Richard Mills in his Jan. 26 speech to the UN Security Council said, “We do not view these steps as a favor to the Palestinian leadership. U.S. assistance benefits millions of ordinary Palestinians…”

Yes, OK, and what’s the delivery address for that aid? Try sending a shipment of aid to “Care of: The Palestinians” and see where it ends up.

Setting aside its support for terror against Jews (a quick survey of Biden’s team would suggest it’s not going to be of great concern to them), the Palestinian leadership is a human rights horror show against its own people, with torture, arbitrary arrests and the hounding of reporters the order of the day.

The State Department then declared it no longer considered Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthis a foreign terror organization. Two days later, it was urging the Houthis to stop acting like one. “[T]he United States is deeply troubled by continued Houthi attacks,” a State Department spokesman said Feb. 7.

Usually, it’s the reverse. First the terrorists stop acting like terrorists, then you pull the designation. Here was a place where the Biden administration could have made a difference simply by not doing anything.

Biden seemed to focus his human rights ire on Saudi Arabia when he announced an end to U.S. support for offensive operations in Yemen. We’re ready to believe the Saudis did bomb civilian areas, but so did the Houthis. The difference is the Saudis don’t want to take over the region; the Houthis’ Iranian sponsor does.

Charging ahead with what can best be described as its ‘anti-human rights policy,’ the State Department announced it was rejoining the UN Human Rights Council.

As former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren points out, the Council is an anti-Semitic organization according to the definition of anti-Semitism which the Biden administration just announced it was adopting – that definition includes singling out Israel for attack. The Council has a special item on its agenda devoted just to attacking Israel.

“If Biden rejoins the council whose membership includes dictatorial regimes & some of the world’s worst human rights violators,” tweeted Nikki Haley last month, “it will fly in the face of our fight for human rights.”

Flying in the face of human rights is what Biden is doing, all in the name of human rights.

Where Biden is most vocal on human rights, it’s on things he can’t do anything about. It’s like watching a one-man show on the power of empty words. In his first foreign-policy address, he demanded Russia release Alexei Navalny and called for Myanmar’s military to end its coup. As Walter Russell Mead shows in the Wall Street Journal, the U.S. has no leverage to back these words with action.

“No president in recent decades made as many inspiring speeches about democracy and human rights as President Obama — and yet no administration in recent decades saw authoritarian powers make so many gains,” Mead writes.

Biden is on pace to outdo his old boss.

David Isaac is managing editor of World Israel News.