Prominent Jewish human rights groups have sharply criticized the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) for issuing more condemnations of Israel for alleged human rights violations than of any other nation.
“The UNHRC continues to serve as an echo chamber for those member states who use the blatantly discriminatory Agenda Item 7 on Israel to deflect attention away from the worst human rights violations in the world by packing resolutions with accusations full of distortions and outright lies against Israel,” Abraham Foxman, National Director of the Anti-Defamation League, told The Algemeiner.
The UN Human Rights Council concluded its 28th session on Friday in Geneva by adopting four resolutions condemning Israel. The Jewish state was the only country out of the 192 UN member states to receive more than one resolution, including Syria, North Korea and Iran. Ninety percent of the states were not mentioned.
In a press release by the UNHRC, under its Agenda Item 7 on the “Human Rights Situation in Palestine and Other Occupied Arab Territories,” the resolutions condemning the Jewish state were listed as follows: “on human rights in the occupied Syrian Golan; on the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination; on Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and in the occupied Syrian Golan; and on the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.”
The UNHRC resolutions included particularly harsh language with words like “demands,” “condemns” and “deplores,” and professed “deep and “grave” concerns. The Council issued “immediate” orders for Israel to cease a list of alleged human rights violations. One resolution said Israel was responsible for “the killing and injury of thousands of Palestinian civilians” during last summer’s Israel-Gaza conflict. The resolution failed to mention the Israeli lives that were lost during the war. Another resolution denounced Israel for maintaining control of the Golan Heights and demanded the Jewish state hand the land back to Syria.
“It’s astonishing,” Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, told The Algemeiner. “At a time when the Syrian regime is massacring its own people, how can the UN call for more people to be subject to [Syrian President] Assad’s rule? The timing of the text is morally galling and logically absurd.”
He added, “What is also outrageous is that these resolutions claim to care about Palestinians, yet the UN proves itself completely oblivious to the actual suffering on the ground, happening right now: Palestinians slaughtered, maimed and expelled by Assad’s forces.”
Neuer said the “farce” at the Human Rights Council indicates that the UN group has no genuine interest in helping Palestinians or protecting human rights. He believes the goal behind these “one-sided condemnations” is the scapegoating of Israel.
He added that the UN’s “disproportionate assault” against Israel undermines the credibility of the organization, which is supposed to be an “impartial and respected” international body, and also exposes the “sores of politicization and selectivity that eat away at its founding mission, eroding the UN Charter promise of equal treatment to all nations large and small.”
Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, said that for years now the UNHRC and its predecessor, the UN Human Rights Commission, have continued to harm rather than serve the protection of human rights. He accused the Human Rights Council of allowing its member states to impose a system that protects “serial human rights abusers like Cuba, Iran [and] Libya.”
“Led by Arab and Muslim states however, the world’s top human rights address has harnessed its full bureaucratic apparatus to demonize Israel, the lone democracy in the Middle East, for imaginary crimes,” he told The Algemeiner. “Instead of holding terrorist Hezbollah and Hamas accountable for perpetrating terrorist crimes against humanity, the Jewish state was condemned for defending herself.”
While he is confident that Israel will defend itself against the accusations, he said he is concerned about minorities around the world who have no one to speak up for them at the UN.
“No matter what, Israel, with our support, will defend her good name and justness of her cause,” Cooper said. “But who will stand up for the Yazidis, the Christians in Iraq, for human rights activists in Iran, Cuba, and China; for the hundreds of thousands of Syrians killed and maimed by their own government or the millions of Syrian refugees who have seen their lives destroyed by Assad? Their silenced voices will never be heard in the very chambers created to protect them.”
Both Cooper and Foxman found fault in the US and its role in the UNHRC. The US currently contributes 22 percent of the UN’s overall budget and 27 percent of its peacekeeping budget. It is the single largest contributor to the international body.
Foxman said only the United States has the “courage” to call out the other UNHRC members for their “hypocrisy” and to vote against such “one-sided measures.” “Sadly,” Foxman added, “US scolding has not resulted in any meaningful change in the Council, nor is that change likely to be achieved any time soon.”
Cooper criticized the return of the US as a member of the UNRHC under the Obama Administration which argued that its involvement would help change the organization’s “extreme-anti-Israel environment.” But Cooper said the latest resolutions against Israel “expose the folly of such a policy.” When asked about calls to defund the UN, Cooper suggested that a more appropriate step would be for the US to leave the Human Rights Council.