Remarks by Syrian envoy spark controversy at U.N. Human Rights Council

Big news at the U.N. today is the passage of a resolution to impose new Iranian sanctions — a document that, if nothing else, epitomizes the delicate (read: watered down) diplomatic language that is well on its way to becoming the signature style of the international body. But lest anyone accuse U.N. delegates of taking ...

EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images
EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images
EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images

Big news at the U.N. today is the passage of a resolution to impose new Iranian sanctions -- a document that, if nothing else, epitomizes the delicate (read: watered down) diplomatic language that is well on its way to becoming the signature style of the international body.

But lest anyone accuse U.N. delegates of taking cover behind circumlocutions, Rania al-Rifai, the Syrian envoy to the U.N Human Rights Council, proved that there's still room for undiluted and unfriendly language at the United Nations when she said on Tuesday:

Big news at the U.N. today is the passage of a resolution to impose new Iranian sanctions — a document that, if nothing else, epitomizes the delicate (read: watered down) diplomatic language that is well on its way to becoming the signature style of the international body.

But lest anyone accuse U.N. delegates of taking cover behind circumlocutions, Rania al-Rifai, the Syrian envoy to the U.N Human Rights Council, proved that there’s still room for undiluted and unfriendly language at the United Nations when she said on Tuesday:

"Hatred [in Israel] is widespread, taught to even small children … Let me quote a song that a group of children on a school bus in Israel sing merrily as they go to school. And I quote, ‘With my teeth I will rip your flesh, with my mouth I will suck your blood.’ End of quote."

Inside the room, business proceeded as usual, but controversy instantly erupted from outside the U.N. Hillel Neuer, executive director of U.N. Watch, an NGO that monitors the Council, rebuked Council President Alex Van Meeuwen for allowing Rifai’s comments to stand unchallenged and called upon Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to censure Van Meeuwen for his oversight.

Clare Sestanovich and Sylvie Stein are researchers at Foreign Policy.

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