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A UN Commissioner’s Antisemitic Chutzpah

A screenshot of Chris Sidoti speaking at the United Nations Human Rights Council on June 14.

Sometimes bigotry is so deeply engrained in a person that he cannot help himself from displaying his hatred at awkward moments. Such was the case this week for Chris Sidoti, one of the three members of the United Nations Commission of Inquiry (“COI”) against Israel.

The COI is the UN’s latest “investigation” of Israel, purportedly over the conflict between it and Hamas in May 2021, but with an extraordinary mandate seen by many as an obvious attempt to delegitimize the world’s only Jewish state.

This perception became only more justified when the UN appointed Navi Pillay as chairwoman, notwithstanding her frequent public displays of bias against Israel. Pillay is particularly remembered by many for denigrating Jewish groups as “lobby groups focused on single issues” when they expressed justified outrage over the obscene displays of antisemitism at a UN conference in Durban that was described by one Holocaust survivor as the “most sickening and unabashed display of hate for Jews I had seen since the Nazi period.”

Consequently, the COI has come under fierce but justified criticism, as its existence and its mandate display yet again the UN’s intolerance for the existence of Jewish self-determination.

Enter Chris Sidoti. Like his two other commissioners, Sidoti was appointed notwithstanding his open bias against Israel, including serving on the advisory council for an organization that had already accused Israel of being guilty of the very crimes the COI is supposed to investigate independently and impartially.

Upset with the fierce criticism, Sidoti delivered a short statement after the COI delivered its first report to the UN Human Rights Council. In an apparent effort to push back against charges of antisemitism he labeled an “outrage,” Sidoti told the audience in Geneva:

“Even the definition of antisemitism promoted by the government of Israel and its GONGOs acknowledges that criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic.” (GONGOs refers to “government organized non-governmental organizations,” a term used for fake non-profits created by governments to pursue their political agendas.)

The charge that Jewish and pro-Israel groups are agents of Israel is as classic an example of antisemitic conspiracy theories as it gets. It’s the same strategy employed by the likes of former Bristol University professor David Miller, who belittled Jewish students in the United Kingdom as “political pawns by a violent, racist, foreign regime.” It is a worldview that Jews cannot be like everyone else. They can only be agents of a foreign power, a fifth column, working behind the scenes to manipulate the “good” part of society.

To be clear, Sidoti did not identify any particular “GONGOs” in his statement or elsewhere. It was a sweeping statement about organizations who support the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism, a definition widely supported by the mainstream Jewish community around the world.

This was Sidoti not just sneeringly lecturing the Jewish community as to what antisemitism is and is not; he was engaging in tired antisemitic tropes of Jewish dual loyalty. So much for disproving the charges of antisemitism.

Perhaps this helps explains why, despite the fact that pro-Israel organizations made some two million submissions to the COI, its report claims only “several thousand” were submitted. Between Pillay’s denigration of Jewish groups as “lobby groups focused on single issues” and Sidoti’s charge of Jewish groups being agents of the State of Israel, it is obvious that the COI thinks that Jews and Israelis cannot be genuine. To them, Jews can only be manipulative lobbyists and foreign agents.

About the Author
David M. Litman is a Research Analyst at the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis (CAMERA).
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