By Jordan Cope
January 23, 2022
While largely established to forge "friendly relations among nations," the U.N. has been anything but friendly toward the Jewish state: Israel.
In fact, the U.N. General Assembly (UNGA) has long afforded a platform and impunity for those promoting Israel's destruction and the ethnic cleansing of Jews from their homeland. In 1974, the UNGA hosted the then-chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), Yasser Arafat, who infamously referenced his "freedom fighter's gun" during his speech. At that time the PLO was an "internationally recognized terrorist organization" with its charter stating that "[a]rmed struggle is the only way to liberate Palestine."
Some four decades later, terrorists still receive impunity in the UNGA. In 2018, the UNGA rejected a resolution that sought to condemn the terrorist group Hamas. While the assembly condemned antisemitic terrorism for the first time in 2021, it has targeted Israel in 112 resolutions since 2015. This represents a staggering 70 percent of all UNGA condemnations since then.
Sadly, the U.N. Human Rights Council (UNHRC) fares not much better in its astonishing bias against Israel. While conceived to address human rights violations at large, 55 percent of its condemnatory resolutions have targeted Israel — a free multiparty democracy according to Freedom House. Further, the Council's Agenda Item 7, which targets Israel, remains the only permanent agenda item devoted to scrutinizing a single U.N. member-state, out of 193 total members.
If you thought U.N. anti-Israel bias could not get any worse, think again. In December 2021, the General Assembly committed to funding the UNHRC's "Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and Israel," which was established after the latest Israel-Gaza war in May 2021.
This new commission reeks of double-standards regarding its mandate, funding, and membership. It deserves to be discredited immediately before it places Israeli (and arguably Jewish) identity under attack in its report, whose first edition is scheduled for release in June 2021. Allegations of apartheid and war crimes are expected, despite Israel's extensive efforts to guarantee legal equality, integrate its Arab citizens, and comply with the laws of warfare. As noted by legal expert Professor Anne Bayefsky, these likely impending allegations could fuel unprecedented adverse action against Israel and its people, including prosecutions of Israeli officials in the ICC, arms embargoes, and widespread boycotts.
Systemic double-standards corrupt the commission, the "first ever open-ended" commission of inquiry (COI) and the first ever COI whose mandate need not be "renewed every year." For example, the mandate's timeframe allows the U.N. to scrutinize Israel from time immemorial to eternity, a reality that allows the COI to scratch old wounds and prime Israel for further discrimination. Unsurprisingly, the mandate is purposefully broad in scope, allowing the COI to investigate the "[u]nderlying root causes of recurrent tensions" and alleged human rights abuses "up to and since 13 April 2021."
Double-standards in funding also abound. Despite the Syrian Civil War claiming at least 1,368 times more lives than the tragic Hamas-Israel war in May 2021, the COI on Syria commands only half of the funding and two thirds of the staffers as does the COI's new mandate to lambaste Israel.
The COI also has a serious problem when it comes to impartiality. All of the commission's members have well documented biases against Israel. The report to be released by the COI will surely reflect the anti-Israel and arguably antisemitic attitudes of those presiding over it, including allegations of apartheid and war crimes.
The president of the COI — Navi Pillay — has falsely accused Israel of apartheid, signed a letter calling for countries to "[suspend] free trade agreements with Israel," and delivered the opening and closing remarks at the Durban Conference in 2009.
The Durban conference has been an infamous platform for antisemitism. In years past at Durban, Iran's then-president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, promoted Holocaust denial. Protesters openly praised Hitler and disseminated "cartoons of hook-nosed Jews" and copies of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, "the most notorious ... antisemitic publication of modern times." Thirty-eight countries boycotted the Durban Conference in 2021 precisely because of its antisemitism.
While Pillay's presidency over the COI is inexcusable, so is Miloon Kothari's membership as a commissioner. Anything but impartial, Kothari prepared a U.N. report in 2001 in which he "called Palestinian terrorism 'resistance,' while glossing over massive suicide bombings that wounded and killed thousands of Israelis." He has accused Israel of war crimes, apartheid ("banstustan-type [sic] situation"), and ethnic cleansing. He has even blamed Israel for "infighting between Palestinian factions."
The last remaining commissioner — Chris Sidoti — also warrants brief scrutiny for his bias. Having worked closely aside Palestinian NGOs for over fifteen years, Sidoti has accused Israel of "not recogni[zing] the application of international human rights law in the territories."
Although the U.N. regularly boasts about the importance of neutrality and impartiality in its humanitarian efforts, the report to be issued by the COI remains at the mercy of these three biased officials, who were appointed by a similarly biased and largely non-democratic U.N. Human Rights Council, whose members reportedly scapegoat Israel through bloc voting to detract from their own human-rights abuses.
While this most recent manifestation of the U.N.'s anti-Israel lawfare may not surprise anyone, it should mobilize people of goodwill to speak out. Rooted in unprecedented double-standards and corrupt membership, the COI is bound to harm Israel and perpetuate the root causes of the conflict. This witch hunt serves only to undermine the U.N.'s integrity with regard to human rights and international law, and it further entrenches its systemic anti-Israel bias and antisemitism. Anyone who cares about Israel, the Jewish people, and human rights should take action now to discredit the U.N.'s latest shameful campaign of hate.
Jordan Cope is the director of policy education for StandWithUs.
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