Israeli ambassador slams UN meeting over holy site
Israel’s UN Ambassador Gilad Erdan condemns Security Council meeting over minister’s visit to the Temple Mount. (Credit: UNTV.)
The United Nations Commission of Inquiry (COI) on Thursday issued a new report that attacked rights of U.S. States to pass legislation banning discrimination against Israel via boycotts and whitewashed the antisemitism of Palestinian political organizations and instead devoted its work to attacking the Jewish state, said Israel’s U.N. Ambassador, Gilad Erdan.
“Yet again, the biased COI has released another sham report about Israel. This illegitimate committee composed of three antisemites is incapable of writing an impartial report on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The proof is their inability to include any references to Palestinian antisemitism in their latest attack on the Jewish state despite the Palestinian Authority which continually incites Jew-hatred and Hamas which seeks the destruction of Israel,” Erdan told Fox News Digital.
He concluded that “Anyone who heeds this report needs to pull the wool from their eyes and seek the truth.”
In what critics see as a United Nations body interfering in domestic U.S. politics, the COI signaled out states that bar anti-Israel boycott measures. In section titled “Israeli authorities and other supporting actors: Delegitimization of civil society,” the report delves into the policies of U.S. states that have passed laws to stop antisemitic discrimination against the Jewish state. According to the report, 35 states in the United States have adopted anti-boycott legislation.”
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Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations Ambassador Gilad Erdan speaks during a press conference after a UN Security Council meeting on the Middle East at the United Nations headquarters on February 20, 2023, in New York City. The UN Security Council unanimously approved a statement strongly opposing Israel’s continued construction and expansion of settlements. The vote came after the Biden administration helped in derailing a legally binding resolution that demanded a halt to Israeli settlement activity. (Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)
Some of the most populous states in the U.S., including Florida, New York, New Jersey, Illinois and Texas, have laws that counter the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) campaign targeting Israel. The states outlaw private companies, which engage in such activity, from receiving public state contracts or business. The German and Austrian parliaments passed resolutions declaring BDS an antisemitic campaign.
Anne Bayefsky, president of Human Rights Voices and director of the Touro Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust, told Fox News that “The report is also a direct attack by the United Nations on U.S. anti-BDS or ‘anti-boycott legislation,’ prevalent across this country and across party affiliation. BDS is aimed at Israel’s political and economic ruin, but the U.N. inquisition claims it’s just ‘legitimate protest.’ The vast majority of Americans recognize the subterfuge and BDS as unacceptable antisemitism at odds with American fundamental freedoms.”
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The symbol of the United Nations is displayed outside the Secretariat Building, Feb. 28, 2022, at United Nations Headquarters. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)
A Fox News Digital examination of the report, totaling 78 pages, showed that the COI defended Al-Haq, a Palestinian NGO that has been classified as a terrorist entity by Jerusalem because it has links to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). The United States and Europe classified the PFLP as a terrorist organization.
The COI claimed that its “report examined attacks, restrictions and harassment of civil society actors in Israel, and the Occupied Palestinian Territory including East Jerusalem. It found that the majority of violations are being committed by Israeli authorities as part of the Israeli Government’s goal of ensuring and enshrining its permanent occupation at the expense of the rights of the Palestinian people.” The formal name for the UN sponsored group is the “Commission on Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and Israel.”
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The COI also accused Israel of “delegitimizing and silencing civil society” by outlawing Palestinian human rights groups and labeling their members as “terrorists.”
Israeli flag flying over Jerusalem. (iStock)
Members of the COI have been plagued by allegations of stoking antisemitism over the years.
In 2022, Miloon Kothari, a member of the IOC, was widely denounced for stoking antisemitism after he told an obscure anti-Israel blog, “We are very disheartened by the social media that is controlled largely by − whether it’s the Jewish Lobby or it’s the specific NGOs.”
“A lot of money is being thrown into trying to discredit us,” Kothari declared.
Overview of the Human Rights Council special session on the human rights situation in Ukraine, at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, May 12, 2022. (Reuters/Denis Balibouse)
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Bayefsky said, “At bottom, the peddlers of antisemitism are objecting to being exposed as peddlers of antisemitism – as peddlers of antisemitism have done through the ages. What we are witnessing in real time are three inquisitors chosen by the UN – none of whom is Jewish or a victim of antisemitism – announcing from their UN perch that they know better about what counts as antisemitism than Jewish victims of antisemitism.”
During the 2022 row over Kothari’s alleged antisemitism, the COI chair, South African Navi Pillay, vehemently rejected the antisemitism accusation leveled against her and other COI members.
“We are not antisemitic!” Pillay stressed at the time, adding. “I am 81 years old, and this is the first time I have been accused of antisemitism. . . . In my own country, that will not be received well.”
The United States and Britain said Kothari made antisemitic remarks by questioning Israel’s right to be a UN member and alluding to a “Jewish lobby.”
The United Nations Human Rights Council created the COI, led by a three-member team of human rights experts, in 2021, following an 11-day war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.
Palestinians wave their national flag during a protest against an Israeli parade through Jerusalem’s Old City, along the frontier with Israel east of Gaza City, Thursday, May 18, 2023. The parade in Jerusalem marked Jerusalem Day, an Israeli holiday celebrating the capture of east Jerusalem in the 1967 Mideast war. Palestinians claim east Jerusalem as their capital and see the march as a provocation. (AP Photo/Fatima Shbair)
The Los Angeles-based human rights organization Simon Wiesenthal Center sent a letter at the time to U.S. Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield urging the Biden administration to take action against the Commission of Inquiry.
The Wiesenthal Center termed Kothari’s comments antisemitic and urged the ambassador to “publicly denounce Kothari’s libelous statements, false accusations, and anti-Jewish remarks against America’s ally Israel and the Jewish people.”
The commission is the first to have an “ongoing” mandate from the UN rights body. Critics say its annual scrutinizing of Israel testifies to an anti-Israel bias in the 47-member-state council and other U.N. bodies.
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When asked about the COI report, Stephane Dujarric the spokesperson for U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres, told Fox News Digital that, “The Commission of Inquiry was established by the member states who sit on the Human Rights Council. The Secretary-General has had no involvement in its work, its staffing or its creation.”
Dujarric continued that “His views on the need for Israelis and Palestinians to find a political solution to the current conflict so the peoples can live side-by-side in peace and security have been clear and consistent.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Benjamin Weinthal reports on Israel, Iran, Syria, Turkey and Europe for Fox News Digital. Benjamin has contributed articles to The Wall Street Journal, The Jerusalem Post, Foreign Policy, Haaretz, Forbes and The New York Post. You can follow Benjamin on Twitter @BenWeinthal.