(Washington, D.C., May 27, 2021)--We condemn in the strongest terms the latest action by the United Nations Human Rights Council against Israel, which makes a mockery of the body’s very purpose.
The council held an emergency “special session” today to allege human rights violations during the recently intensified hostilities between Hamas and Israel—specifically those committed supposedly by Israelis, not against Israelis, during fighting in which Palestinian terrorists again indiscriminately attacked and upended the lives of millions of civilians.
The council—notorious for already singling out Israel alone for scrutiny and censure under a permanent agenda item, and for far more resolutions condemning Israel than any other country—has now held nine special sessions on the Jewish state. Nearly one-third of all special sessions have thus focused on Israel.
With a vote of 24 in favor, 9 against and 14 abstaining, the council adopted a resolution—principally sponsored by Pakistan on behalf of the bloc of Islamic states—establishing an “ongoing independent, international commission of inquiry” to probe rights violations before and since April 13, a date chosen to highlight Palestinians’ attributing of the recent hostilities to Israeli policing on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount.
In an extraordinary, widely unrecognized effort to preserve peace, Israel has long maintained Muslim administration of the Mount—Judaism’s single holiest site, but where the al-Aqsa Mosque is situated. Nonetheless, the compound has repeatedly been used to attack Israelis and for incendiary preaching against Jews. An alarming spate of intercommunal violence in Israel began with assaults against identifiable Jews, some recorded and promoted on social media, by Arab youth in Jerusalem.
The Human Rights Council has established multiple commissions of inquiry to reaffirm prior condemnations of Israel by the body, in which Israel’s adversaries enjoy an automatic majority.
Before the special session, B’nai B’rith wrote to member states to urge them to refuse to cosponsor or support today’s resolution. We strongly commend Austria, Bulgaria, Cameroon, the Czech Republic, Germany, Malawi, the Marshall Islands, the United Kingdom and Uruguay for their principled vote against the motion.
“The arrogance and presumptuousness of today’s action are as predictable as they are damaging to the cause of human rights,” B’nai B’rith International President Charles O. Kaufman and CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin said. “By obscenely blaming the victim, council members have rewarded the terrorism of Hamas, which is bad for Israelis, for Palestinians and for peace. They have again told terrorists that they can attack civilians from among civilians and actually win propaganda points from the international community. The council now seeks, on an ‘ongoing’ basis, to strengthen both unjust claims of discrimination inside Israel itself and dangerous Palestinian efforts to have counterterrorism hindered by the International Criminal Court.”
“Today’s resolution urges states to ‘refrain from transferring arms’—presumably so that Israel cannot be defended—and does not even make mention of Hamas, the jihadist group that controls the Gaza Strip and is committed openly to Israel’s destruction. Rather than actually supporting a ceasefire, let alone pushing to disarm and dismantle Hamas, the council has incentivized more of its atrocities—which have included rockets falling on Palestinians and on delivery points for humanitarian aid.”
In a statement submitted to the council, B’nai B’rith U.N. and Intercommunal Affairs Director David Michaels said, “Four thousand rockets fired at Israel from Gaza. Some claim Gaza is ‘occupied,’ but Israel completely withdrew from it over 15 years ago. Some complain about a blockade on Gaza, but imagine how much more destructive Hamas would be with no such measures.”
“What country would accept the existential threats and violence that Israel endures? If terrorists attack France, the United States, Britain, Spain, India or Germany, the world unites in solidarity and support for defeating the terrorists… But when the targets are Israelis, in Jews’ sole ancestral homeland—the Middle East’s only democracy—this body focuses blame on Israel. Israel, which takes unparalleled steps to avoid civilian casualties.” Michaels concluded, “This council does not take interest when Israeli Jews are attacked, only when they respond. This council repeatedly signals that human rights apply to all but Israelis.”
B’nai B’rith International has advocated for global Jewry and championed the cause of human rights since 1843. B’nai B’rith is recognized as a vital voice in promoting Jewish unity and continuity, a staunch defender of the State of Israel, a tireless advocate on behalf of senior citizens and a leader in disaster relief. With a presence around the world, we are the Global Voice of the Jewish Community. Visit bnaibrith.org.