Biden Pulls Nomination of Human Rights Lawyer for Denouncing Israeli Apartheid

Final Friday, the State Division introduced the nomination of James Cavallaro, a broadly revered human rights legal professional, to the Inter-American Fee on Human Rights. However earlier this week, the State Division withdrew Cavallaro’s nomination after studies emerged that he had described Israel as an apartheid state and had criticized Home Minority Chief Hakeem Jeffries’s shut ties to AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. Defending the withdrawal of Cavallaro’s nomination, State Division spokesperson Ned Value stated, “His statements clearly don’t mirror U.S. coverage. They aren’t a mirrored image of what we imagine, and they’re inappropriate to say the least.” The choice has sparked outrage inside the human rights group. Cavallaro joins us to clarify that this transfer by the Biden administration is especially troubling as a result of the position he was nominated for doesn’t have any authority over U.S.-Israel relations and is an unbiased place.


It is a rush transcript. Copy might not be in its last kind.

AMY GOODMAN: That is Democracy Now!, I’m Amy Goodman. Leaders within the human rights world are criticizing the Biden administration for withdrawing the nomination of a distinguished human rights legal professional from a submit over the legal professional’s previous feedback criticizing Israel. Final Friday, the State Division introduced the nomination of James Cavallaro to the Inter-American Fee on Human Rights. He had beforehand served on the Fee from 2014 to 2017, together with a interval as its president. This was all throughout the Obama administration, the Obama-Biden administration. Cavallaro is a broadly revered human rights legal professional, cofounder and government director of the College Community for Human Rights. Earlier this week, the State Division withdrew Cavallaro’s nomination after studies emerged he described Israel as an apartheid state and had criticized Home Minority Chief Hakeem Jeffries’s shut ties to AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. That is State Division spokesperson Ned Value talking Tuesday.

NED PRICE: His statements clearly don’t mirror U.S. coverage. They aren’t a mirrored image of what we imagine and they’re inappropriate, to say the least. We’ve determined to withdraw our nomination of this particular person from—to withdraw his nomination to serve on the Inter-American Fee on Human Rights.

AMY GOODMAN: The Biden administration’s resolution to withdraw James Cavallaro’s nomination has sparked outrage inside the human rights group. Agnès Callamard, the Secretary Basic of Amnesty Worldwide, condemned what she referred to as “A state pushed assault on a superb human rights lawyer due to his view on Israel apartheid.” She went on to say, “The U.S. authorities has not engaged with the authorized and empirical bases of positions on Israel apartheid. As a substitute it’s censoring, shutting down debates, and threatening.”

Omar Shakir, who’s the Israel and Palestine Director at Human Rights Watch, stated the transfer “means that for the State Division, believing that Palestinians deserve fundamental rights disqualifies one from serving on a human rights physique. Shameful and but U.S. overseas coverage in a nutshell.”

James Cavallaro has turn into simply the most recent determine to lose or threat shedding a place as a consequence of his criticism of Israel. Final 12 months, the dean at Harvard College’s Kennedy College of Authorities vetoed a fellowship for former Human Rights Watch government director Kenneth Roth over his criticism of Israel’s human rights report. Beneath public stress, Harvard just lately reversed its resolution and Ken Roth is at Harvard Kennedy College now.

We’re joined now by James Cavallaro, in Los Angeles, the place he’s Visiting Professor on the UCLA College of Legislation. Additionally teaches human rights at Wesleyan College. Welcome to Democracy Now!, Jim. Thanks a lot for being with us. Are you able to clarify what occurred? First, they’re praising you after which they’re withdrawing your nomination from the Inter-American Fee on Human Rights that you just had beforehand served as president of.

JAMES CAVALLARO: Yeah, it actually was fairly a flip of occasions. Many thanks for having me in your program, Amy. On Friday, the State Division publicly introduced that that they had chosen me after an inner course of to be the U.S. nationwide candidate to function an unbiased knowledgeable—and let me underscore that; it’s fairly essential—as an unbiased knowledgeable on the Inter-American Fee on Human Rights. As you famous, I had the privilege of serving on the Inter-American Fee up to now because of the nomination of the then Obama-Biden administration.

So on Friday, they subject a press release. They discuss my background, my data of Latin America, my fluency in different languages, et cetera, all elements of their selecting me to be the candidate. That’s Friday. On Monday, I’m contacted by a reporter for a small outlet who has gone by my Twitter account and pulled up tweets of mine important of Israeli governmental insurance policies that quantity to apartheid and likewise important of the position of cash in politics, specifically by AIPAC and its donations to candidates who then in flip, sadly, I’d say present cowl or scale back or remove any oversight by the US authorities, that contributes $4 billion a 12 months to Israel, of its human rights report.

On account of these tweets, there’s some inner debate inside State and possibly above State. That is once more on Monday. The journalist contacts me, contacts the State Division, publishes an article I feel Monday afternoon. On Tuesday morning, I’m referred to as by people on the State Division after which by the ambassador to the Group of American States and knowledgeable that the State Division is withdrawing my nomination. And it’s made clear to me that it’s due to the tweets and the statements that you just indicated, about my characterization of the scenario in Israel and Palestine as apartheid and the critique of the position of AIPAC funding in U.S. politics.

Let me underscore two issues, if I may, Amy. First, the position of a commissioner on the Inter-American Fee is just not as consultant of the US, if you happen to’re a U.S. nationwide, or consultant of Mexico if you happen to’re a Mexican nationwide, and so forth, for the states within the Americas. It’s as an unbiased knowledgeable. The explanation why they selected me is as a result of for three-plus many years I’ve been an unbiased analyst, knowledgeable. I’ve documented human rights primarily in Latin America but additionally in different components of the world, together with Israel and Palestine. That’s the primary essential level.

The second essential level is that the choice right here, what it in impact does, is it requires loyalty to a U.S. place on what is going on in Israel and Palestine that’s completely out of sync with what each main human rights group has stated. However however it being out of sync, it’s now in impact a requirement not only for service inside the U.S. authorities however for service as an unbiased knowledgeable.

The very last thing I’d say is, my views primarily based on my remark, my visits to Israel and Palestine, are totally in step with the views of Ken Roth, who was in your program when his fellowship was rescinded by the Kennedy College after which reversed; Human Rights Watch; Amnesty Worldwide; the main Israeli human rights group B’Tselem; Al-Haq; the Harvard Human Rights Program; and others who’ve documented. What a human rights activist and practitioner and scholar and knowledgeable does is doc circumstances, examine these circumstances to worldwide human rights requirements and name out violations. And you’ll’t decide and select states. No one will get a free move. The U.S. doesn’t get a free move. Israel doesn’t get a free move. The Palestinian Authority doesn’t get a free move. Egypt. You might go on. Nobody will get a free move. That’s human rights documentation. That’s what it must be.

AMY GOODMAN: You talked about Ken Roth, the previous government director at Human Rights Watch for nearly 30 years. He tweeted about your case saying, “Biden’s dropping of a candidate for a Latin American human rights submit as a result of he criticizes the Israeli authorities’s apartheid—a very mainstream place for any human rights defender—means that solely Israeli apologists are acceptable.” Once more, as you stated, final month the Harvard Kennedy College restored Ken Roth’s fellowship after initially rescinding it over his criticism of Israeli human rights abuses. He appeared on Democracy Now! to warn in opposition to the chilling impact of Harvard’s preliminary resolution.

KEN ROTH: It is a very significant issue. It’s not only a drawback for me personally. This isn’t impeding my profession in a major method. However I take into consideration, to start with, the youthful teachers who don’t have the visibility that I do, who’re going to take from this lesson the view that if you happen to contact Israel, if you happen to criticize Israel, that may be a career-killing transfer. You’ll get canceled. And that’s a disastrous sign to ship.

AMY GOODMAN: To to see that complete interview, you’ll be able to go to Once more, he’s now on the Harvard Kennedy College as a result of there was such worldwide outcry, Harvard caved and reoffered him the place.

Now I need to ask you, Jim Cavallaro, about Sarah Margon, who was nominated to function Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. Then she got here below intense criticism from Senate Republicans, most notably Jim Risch of Idaho, for previous tweets purportedly exhibiting she supported BDS, the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions motion. Are you able to reply to that?

JAMES CAVALLARO: Sure. Let me first say that Ken made an fascinating level about younger teachers. We’re seeing proper now the unfair pressures that Professor Lara Sheehi is struggling at George Washington College. Due to her protection of the rights of Palestinians, she’s dealing with I feel spurious accusations and she or he’s below a major quantity of stress. So let me simply say that what Ken is speaking about is sort of actual. And I, like Ken, can maybe extra—due to his stature within the subject of human rights—I’ve a platform. I’ve associations with main establishments. Wesleyan College. I educate at Yale Legislation College. I educate at UCLA. I educate at Columbia Legislation College. And nonetheless, this has been a extremely tough expertise.

AMY GOODMAN: You’re a longtime professor at Stanford Legislation College.

JAMES CAVALLARO: Sure, I additionally taught at Harvard and Stanford legislation faculties. The opposite query you had was about Sarah Margon?


JAMES CAVALLARO: Simply to finish along with her, you may have a scenario the place, once more, her positions, her acknowledged positions, working for Human Rights Watch on Israel and Palestine don’t sq. with U.S. overseas coverage, which once more is out of line—the view of the US is a non-mainstream view. It’s an excessive view. It isn’t the bulk view of those that have documented circumstances in Israel and Palestine.

It’s in all probability value flagging right here, if I may, what we’re speaking about, there’s a authorized definition of apartheid. It’s domination by one group, one racial group or ethnic group, over one other. That’s fairly clear by way of land confiscations, by way of expansions of settlements, by way of the constructing permits which might be denied to Palestinians, the voting rights which might be denied to Palestinians, freedom of motion that’s denied to Palestinians, which freeway you could be on. You possibly can’t be on it if you’re Palestinian. You possibly can’t get a constructing allow. The scenario in Gaza. Et cetera, et cetera. Human Rights Watch put out a dense report documenting this. So did Amnesty. So produce other teams.

However with Sarah Margon, her place was to serve inside State, however with a deal with human rights. That particular person needs to be a human rights knowledgeable. That’s problematic when there’s a litmus check on Israel and Palestine which isn’t in step with human rights, which is required with a view to serve. It’s actually much more regarding when it’s a litmus check as effectively to function an unbiased knowledgeable. I’d not have represented the US authorities and I’d have had completely no remit over Israel and Palestine! The Inter-American Fee oversees human rights within the western hemisphere. That’s the different hemisphere, Israel and Palestine. So the growth, sadly, of the areas through which one has to abide by U.S. coverage, at the same time as a human rights activist, even in Latin America, is de facto, actually regarding.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to proceed to observe this. Jim Cavallaro, we need to thanks a lot for being with us, Professor at Wesleyan, Visiting Professor at UCLA College of Legislation. Earlier than that, taught at Harvard, at Stanford Legislation College for a few years. The Biden administration simply withdrew his nomination to serve on the Inter-American Fee of Human Rights, which he already served on from 2014 to 2017, and was president of, for a interval of that point. Subsequent up, we communicate with a Brazilian indigenous chief about Lula’s journey to Washington and Bolsonaro committing genocide within the Amazon. Stick with us.

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