The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), the nation’s largest Arab-American civil rights organization, strongly condemns the New Orleans City Council for rescinding Resolution 18-5, which upheld New Orleans’ commitment to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Despite what detractors had claimed, the resolution neither mandates any political program nor is it concerned with foreign affairs. It is simply a non-binding expression of New Orleans’ support for human rights in the city. New Orleans is home to many refugee communities who escaped war and persecution and it is important that the city affirms its commitment to human rights.
ADC is deeply alarmed by the anti-Arab tone adopted by Res. 18-5’s opponents. Tellingly, opponents had raised no objection to the resolution’s language but appeared to be more concerned with the identity of the proponents of Res. 18-5. Such objection to Res. 18-5 suggested that opponents believe that certain groups should be denied a voice in the city council.
The Resolution was supported by more than 20 community organizations and endorsed by several human rights groups, including Amnesty International and Dream Defenders. But NOLA officials buckled under the smear campaign of pro-Israel groups, which portrayed Res. 18-5 as an anti-Israel resolution, which is to say opponents unwittingly recognize a commitment to human rights conflicts with support for Israel. Moreover, pro-Israel groups appeared to be alarmed by the political mobilization of Arab Americans. This effort to marginalize and deny a voice to Arabs is nothing short of outright prejudice.
Res. 18-5 was placed on the public docket and its passage was led by several organizations in a transparent manner. But, apparently, all that’s for naught when the wrong type of people stand up for human rights. It is remarkable that a simple non-binding resolution expressing the UN’s founding principle of human rights could be attacked as controversial and repealed. And it is a sad reflection of the reactionary politics of pro-Israel organizations and how far they will go to shut down any discussion of human rights for fear that it might include awareness about Israel’s human rights violations.
At a time when diverse groups are rising to build a more inclusive American, pro-Israel groups have aligned themselves against this coalition. It is even more regrettable that the New Orleans City Council would accede to their anachronistic vision. History will record the New Orleans City Council on the wrong side of justice and, eventually, on the losing side, too.
ADC strongly objects to this exclusionary and discriminatory repeal and the political tactics that accompanied it. We call on the New Orleans City Council to affirm support for human rights.