Berman defends Obama on U.N.


WASHINGTON (JTA) — The Jewish chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee urged colleagues to reassess negative impressions of the Obama administration’s U.N. outreach.

"I wanted to bring to your attention to two recent hard-fought victories by the United States at these institutions, which highlight how sustained engagement with international organizations by the Obama Administration has reaped important dividends for both the U.S. and Israel," U.S. Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.) said in a May 11 letter sent to every member of the House.  "By actively using our voice and vote in organizations such as the UNHRC and UNESCO, we are better able to support Israel — and achieve other important goals — in the international community."

The U.N. Human Rights Council is a body dominated by anti-Israel nations and which devotes the bulk of its attention to Israel. UNESCO is the U.N.’s cultural and scientific arm.

Berman noted the successful U.S.-led effort to keep Iran from assuming a seat on the UNHRC, and a letter from Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman thanking U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton for successfully pushing back against anti-Israel resolutions at UNESCO.

"The lesson from these critical victories is clear: U.S. engagement works," Berman said. "Without a strong presence at international organizations, we risk leaving our ally Israel to battle alone against countries seeking to de-legitimize the Jewish state."

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