By Menachem Z. Rosensaft
Special To The Jewish Week

Human rights “are the birthright of all people,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared in a speech before the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva on Dec. 6, 2011. “It does not matter what country we live in, who our leaders are, or even who we are. Because we are human, we therefore have rights. And because we have rights, governments are bound to protect them.” Along the same lines, Secretary of State Colin Powell said on March 31, 2003, that “where human rights and freedoms flourish, terrorists and tyrants do not thrive, and conflict and chaos do not reign. America’s democratic values, our national interest and our obligations to the international community demand that the defense and promotion of human rights are an integral and active part of our foreign policy.” In sharp contrast, other stewards of American foreign policy did not make the safeguarding of human rights a priority. Two 20th- century secretaries of state, Henry Kissinger and Cordell Hull, both of whom were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, belong in this latter category. Kissinger earned permanent notoriety with his inexplicable 1973 observation to President Nixon that “the emigration of Jews from the Soviet Union is not an objective of American foreign policy. And if they put Jews into gas chambers in the Soviet Union, it is not an American concern. Maybe a humanitarian concern.”
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