This year, the United States rejoined the United Nations Human Rights Council. It did so to try to advance fundamental values, strengthen multilateralism and address political corruption. But Exhibit A of this corruption is the UN’s unparalleled misuse as a propaganda tool against Israel.
At the UN, Israel — a country of fewer than 10 million people, barely the size of New Jersey — is excoriated more than all other countries.
Within the Human Rights Council, the permanent agenda features one item on Israel, another on all other 192 member states. Its “experts” include a bureaucrat dedicated to highlighting alleged wrongdoings against Palestinians — but not wrongdoings against Israelis. One-third of its emergency sessions have focused not on regimes like North Korea’s but on Israel, the Middle East’s only pluralistic democracy.
This reality reflects simple political realities. The UN includes nearly 60 Muslim states but only one Jewish state.
Arabs enjoy greater civil liberty in Israel than they do in Arab countries. And far more Muslims have been killed in Muslim-majority countries over the past decade than in some 75 years of conflict involving Israel.
Palestinians, however, have utilized the UN to damage, demonize and even delegitimize Israel. The latest product of this exploitation is the new ”Commission of Inquiry on the Situation in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza” singling out Israel for wild, one-sided smears.
The UN established its open-ended commission after Hamas again initiated hostilities with Israel last year. A jihadist group that rules the Gaza Strip, Hamas openly pledges Israel’s destruction. Yet the Human Rights Council launched its inquiry after condemning Israel in advance, without so much as mentioning Hamas. It appointed commissioners exclusively known for strident preexisting positions on Israel. To call this a kangaroo court is to risk insulting marsupials.
The result is already apparent. A first report, just released, simply promulgates the UN’s corpus of overt anti-Israel prejudice. After exploring past UN documents’ take on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, the commission says “the findings and recommendations relevant to the underlying root causes were overwhelmingly directed towards Israel.” No kidding.
The commission claims that “Palestinian and Israeli stakeholders” alike identified Israel’s “perpetual occupation” as “the one common issue” behind the conflict. In this panel’s simplistic universe, expected to cost taxpayers millions of dollars annually, relentless Palestinian violence — and rejection of sweeping overtures for two-state coexistence in 1947, 2000 and 2008 — does not register as a “root cause.”
The commission also claims “Israel has no intention of ending the occupation.” The panel seems unfamiliar with Israel’s sacrifice of territory for peace with Egypt and Jordan, its reported offers of territory even to Syria and its painful surrender of land to the Palestinians. It also seems unaware of Israelis’ dramatically worsened security following their total withdrawal from a security zone along the Lebanese border in 2000 and pullout of all soldiers and settlements from Gaza in 2005.
Nor does the commission even feign interest in Palestinians’ endemic dehumanization of Jews, denial of their equal legitimacy and glorification of violence.
There is talk of Israeli “structural discrimination,” but not a word about the Palestinian Authority’s death penalty for selling land to Jews, or the top Palestinian leader’s railing that Israelis “desecrate” Jerusalem with “their filthy feet.”
There is talk of Jewish “settler violence,” when lethal attacks by “settlers” are both rare and consistently denounced by Israel. But there is zero criticism by name of Hamas — and no mention of Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah or their sponsor, Iran.
There is talk of past “Gaza conflicts” — labeled as if the conflicts didn’t involve indiscriminate bombardments upending the lives of millions within Israel.
There is talk of Israeli actions deemed “collective punishment…aimed at pursuing Israeli political objectives.” But no description of Palestinian actions as collective punishment motivated by political objectives.
The report even reaches for utterly unsubstantiated suggestions of “sexual and gender-based violence” against Palestinian women, without so much as paying lip service to Israeli women targeted with Palestinian sexual violence, or to Israeli women impacted by anti-Israel violence generally.
Similarly, the report cynically references “Palestinian children detained by Israel” — conjuring up wantonly imprisoned toddlers, not 17-year-olds incited to grievous violence — with no mention whatsoever of harm and trauma inflicted on generations of Israeli children of all backgrounds.
And all this by a commission of inquiry led by the UN’s top former human rights official, Navi Pillay. Not content with a mandate of unprecedented scope, her commission has already exceeded those terms by repeatedly referencing the “occupied Syrian Golan,” the critically strategic plateau that has enjoyed decades of calm, prosperity and freedom thanks to Israel. For that alone, Pillay should be removed from her position.
Her commission’s persecution of Israelis hinders genuine peacemaking — not to mention the UN’s purported impartiality in upholding human rights.
Mariaschin is the CEO, and Michaels is director of UN and intercommunal affairs, at B’nai B’rith International