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US withdraws candidate nomination because of Israel ‘apartheid’ remark 

February 15, 2023 at 2:38 pm

James Cavallaro, law professor at Wesleyan University and executive director of its Network for Human Rights on March 14, 2016 [JOHAN ORDONEZ/AFP via Getty Images]

The administration of US President Joe Biden has withdrawn the nomination of leading law professor James Cavallaro for an international human rights post because he called Israel an “apartheid state”. Cavallaro is a law professor at Wesleyan University and the executive director of its Network for Human Rights.

On Friday, the US announced Cavallaro’s candidacy as an independent member of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), a watchdog monitoring the Americas. It praised the law professor as a “leading scholar and practitioner of international law” with deep expertise in the region. Yesterday, though, the State Department said that Cavallaro’s candidacy had been pulled because of his previous comments about Israel, which was confirmed by the law professor on twitter.

“This morning, the US @StateDept informed me that it would withdraw my nomination to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (@CIDH), due to my statements denouncing apartheid in Israel/Palestine,” he wrote.

Cavallaro went on to explain that his candidacy was being withdrawn because of his view that “the conditions in Israel/Palestine meet the definition of apartheid under international human rights law.” He cited the major human rights groups Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and B’Tselem, all of which have determined that Israel does indeed impose apartheid on the people of occupied Palestine.

Details revealed in the Guardian showed that the withdrawal of Cavallaro’s nomination followed an article in the British newspaper published by a pro-Israel Jewish newspaper, the Algemeiner. Cavallaro reportedly retweeted a story about the gratification of pro-Israel groups at the election of the New York Democratic congressman Hakeem Jeffries as House minority leader.

The Guardian article revealed how Jeffries’ elevation was celebrated by the pro-Israel camp in Washington and how it was greeted with delight by hard-line organisations like the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). Robert Wexler, a former Democratic congressman, was reported as saying that, “The pro-Israel camp needs someone just like Hakeem to lead us into the future. In fact, I would say, if the pro-Israel community wanted to create a Democratic leader for the future, we would create Hakeem Jeffries.”

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Jeffries is said to be tied closely to AIPAC and other pro-Israel lobby groups. One of them, Pro-Israel America, was his largest single donor over the past year, according to the Guardian. Cavallaro retweeted the Guardian story with the comment, “Bought. Purchased. Controlled.”

The withdrawal of Cavallaro’s nomination comes in the wake of former Head of HRW, Kenneth Roth, being denied a prestigious fellowship for criticising Israel. Cavallaro referred to Roth’s case and described the withdrawal of his nomination as part of broader “censorship of human rights advocates who denounce apartheid in Israel.”