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What We're Saying
Initial report of latest “commission” recycles U.N.’s own anti-Israel prejudice; unprecedented open-ended probe promises more to come
(Washington, D.C., June 7, 2022)—B’nai B’rith President Seth J. Riklin and CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin have issued the following statement:
B’nai B’rith International has panned the initial report of the United Nations Human Rights Council’s (UNHRC) latest “Commission of Inquiry” on Israel for predictably recycling the motifs of the U.N.’s systemic, and singular, prejudice against the world’s only Jewish state. But the Commission—whose “findings” were adopted by the UNHRC beforehand, and whose appointed members each already had a longstanding record of public positions against Israel—is unprecedented in its open-ended mandate, promising more to come.
The Commission joins a long list of U.N. mechanisms targeting Israel, which has been subjected to more scrutiny and condemnation than all other member states. This body, however, is slated to absorb more funding than practically any similar U.N. endeavor. While, in another precedent, the Commission has been charged with examining not only the Palestinian territories but Israel, this expanded scope is being employed not to finally afford equal care and consideration to Jewish and other Israelis subjected to unending dehumanization and violence, but instead to further malign the Middle East’s only pluralistic democracy, Israel, by presenting it as uniquely discriminatory against minorities.
The report makes clear the Commission’s intentions by asserting that “perpetual occupation” is “the one common issue that constitutes the underlying root cause of recurrent tensions, instability and protraction of conflict in both the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and Israel.” Israel’s enemies’ open, violent rejection of the Jewish state’s right to exist—within any boundaries—apparently is not a root cause of the conflict, nor of the defensive efforts repeatedly necessitated by fanatics’ attacks on Israeli civilians from among Palestinian and other Arab civilians.
Notwithstanding decades of unparalleled Israeli overtures, risks and sacrifices for peace—including profoundly painful territorial concessions after repeated wars launched by Israel’s adversaries—the Commission further concluded that “Israel has no intention of ending the occupation, has clear policies for ensuring complete control over the Occupied Palestinian Territory.” No mention at all is made of Palestinian intention to finally discontinue terrorism and endemic incitement, recognize the equal rights and legitimacy of Israeli Jews and embrace negotiated compromise rather than confrontation on the ground and in international settings.
Indeed, with its overt partisanship, the Commission disincentives such progress. Hamas receives no criticism by name in the Commission report—and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah and their patron Iran are not mentioned at all.
B’nai B’rith—which has led Jewish communal engagement with the U.N. since the world body’s very founding in 1945—has declined to engage directly with the Commission, whose biased composition and mandate are explicit. Rather, we will continue to expose the hypocrisy inherent in this newest effort to weaponize the U.N. in a manner that hinders not only justice for Israelis but peace and reconciliation between people on both sides of the conflict.
As one response to a Commission that magnifies alleged Israeli wrongdoing while all but ignoring relentless, deliberate abuses by Palestinians, B’nai B’rith is releasing a series of video testimonials by victims of Palestinian terror attacks in Ashdod, a diverse city deep within Israel’s sovereign territory. The interviewees, ordinary civilians who have survived acute physical and psychological trauma, have been the recipients of critical B’nai B’rith humanitarian aid, and were targeted simply by virtue of living in Israel. The fourth such video is to be publicized next week.
Press Releases, Op-Eds and More
On May 27, 2021, the UNHRC met during its 30th special session to discuss renewed hostilities between the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas and Israel. The UNHRC, an international institution built to uphold human rights, is in actuality a hotbed of bias against Israel. The Council’s selective and unparalleled focus on attacking Israel, but not its violent adversaries, comes at the expense of tackling real human rights concerns throughout the world. This is not by mistake: authoritarian regimes—many of them members of the UNHRC themselves—aim for the Council to be as ineffective as possible in holding them accountable for systemic abuses. Of the 30 UNHRC special sessions until May 2021, fully one-third were dedicated to attacking just one member state, Israel.
At the conclusion of the 30th special session, the UNHRC approved a resolution that blamed Israel for the recent hostilities, even though Hamas—which was not even mentioned by name—had initiated and escalated the fighting. The resolution furthermore created a “Commission of Inquiry” to validate the conclusions that the UNHRC (or slightly over half of its members) had already claimed. The COI would look at “root causes” of the conflict and would, unlike any preceding COI, be “ongoing.” This COI is unlimited in both scope and time, allowing endless opportunities for politicization and exploitation.
To staff this COI, the U.N. has created a boondoggle: the Commission’s bloated staff is among the largest for a COI within the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), with generous stipends for travel and other expenses. It will cost taxpayers around the world approximately $5 million annually in perpetuity (the cost will likely rise in the future). To lead the COI, the UNHRC chose commissioners—led by Navi Pillay—with extensive, open anti-Israel records. In any credible judicial institution, being so overtly partial would be disqualifying to “investigating” a complex, contentious question. But at the U.N., this level of bias against Israel qualifies one as an “expert.”
The COI, discriminatory in both mandate and composition, has released its first report just prior to the 50th regular session of the UNHRC in June 2022, and will potentially do so each subsequent year. B’nai B’rith will not cooperate with a COI that has no interest in fair, impartial treatment of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Like past UNHRC “Commissions of Inquiry” on Israel, the newest COI can be expected in each report to recycle wild condemnations built upon unfounded accusations against Israel—while paying negligible attention to Hamas and other terrorist groups heaping misery upon both Israeli and Palestinian civilians.
Victims Speak Out
In response to the U.N. Human Rights Council’s (UNHRC) latest discriminatory Commission of Inquiry (COI) targeting Israel, whose first “report” has been released, B’nai B’rith presents a series of interviews with survivors of a Hamas rocket attack on Ashdod, Israel, in May 2021.
UNHRC Video Statements
B’nai B’rith International’s U.N.-accredited representatives have addressed the UNHRC to condemn the unprecedented COI from the COI’s creation in 2021.