Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

Former Biden nominee says US creating Israel ‘litmus test’ after rescinding human rights post | Middle East Eye

Posted by M. C. on February 22, 2023

Human rights lawyer James Cavallaro warns Biden administration’s decision is contributing to pattern of censoring speech critical of Israel

Remember when congress invited Netanyahu take Obama to task in a speech before congress? It makes you wonder who is pulling the strings.

After having his nomination to an independent international human rights post rescinded by the Biden administration, US academic James Cavallaro has warned that the Biden administration is contributing to a pattern of cracking down on speech critical of Israel.

“I’m used to being attacked for doing human rights work. I would say it’s at a minimum disconcerting to feel that I’m being attacked by my own government for defending human rights, but unfortunately, I’ve hit a raw nerve,” Cavallaro said in an interview with Middle East Eye on Tuesday.

“Now you have a litmus test – think about this – you have a litmus test on Israel-Palestine for independent experts in human rights bodies in the western hemisphere.”

Cavallaro is a human rights lawyer who has taught at top American law schools, including Harvard and Stanford, and he currently teaches at Yale and UCLA. He was originally nominated by the State Department on 10 February for a position on the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), referring to both north and south America.

It was not a guarantee that he would be selected, since a seat on the commission requires a vote from all members of the Organization of American States (OAS), but the State Department told Cavallaro they wanted him to be the US nominee.

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The position appeared to be a natural fit for Cavallaro, given his extensive experience and work on human rights in Latin America over the past several decades. He opened a Human Rights Watch office in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and previously worked in groups opposing rights abuses by the government of former Chilean leader Augusto Pinochet.

He had also already served on IACHR, serving as president from 2016 to 2017, under the Barack Obama administration. 

“When they nominated me in 2013, what the folks inside State told me is one of the reasons we’re nominating you is because you’re very distant from US government,” he told MEE.

But just several days after his nomination was announced this month, Cavallaro said he received a message from Algemeiner, a New York-based news website, asking him to comment on past social media posts.

The news site had found a number of tweets Cavallaro wrote, in which he called Israel an apartheid state and also said that Hakeem Jeffries, the House minority leader, was “bought” and “controlled” by the Israeli lobby.

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