Hillel Neuer
International human rights lawyer, writer & activist

French role in selecting anti-Israel activist for UN post undermines credibility on peace move

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France’s claim to be a fair broker which can move Israelis and Palestinians peace is now being called into question by the actions of its UN envoy in selecting a prominent anti-Israeli activist to investigate “Israel’s violations” for the next six years, a critical post.

A 5-member UN committee, on which the French delegate in Geneva serves by virtue of being named by the Western group, recommended Canadian academic Michael Lynk as one of two candidates that it found to be impartial and objective — this despite his leadership role in pro-Palestinian lobby groups, and his long record of inflammatory statements against Israel.

That a representative of France would join others on an Egyptian-led committee to select such a manifestly partisan candidate — someone who three days after 9/11 blamed the West for provoking the attacks on the World Trade Center — constitutes a travesty of justice and a breach of the world body’s own rules.

Someone who accuses Israel of “Apartheid” and openly seeks to dismantle the Jewish state is neither impartial nor objective.

On the basis of the recommendation by this UNHRC vetting committee, known as the Consultative Group, the Council president will bring Lynk’s name for confirmation tomorrow before the 47-nation plenary.

Ten people applied for the job, and two were qualified human rights lawyers — including one from France — who had no prior record of supporting either Israelis or Palestinians. Yet neither one was recommended.

And although the committee typically recommends three names, this time only two were proposed — and each one, Penny Green and Michael Lynk, has a record of making trenchant and politicized statements against Israel. Why did France sign off on this irregular, truncated and closed slate of biased candidates?

Most importantly, how could France designate Michael Lynk as impartial and objective?

On September 14, 2001, Lynk issued a statement blaming the attacks on “global inequalities” and “disregard by Western nations for the international rule of law.”

And now, one day after Islamists murdered and maimed hundreds in the heart of Europe, the UN — thanks to France’s role among others — is to appoint someone who instinctively blames such attacks on the alleged crimes of Western nations. This sends absolutely the worst message, at the worst time.

The truth is that Michael Lynk fails the minimal impartiality requirements set forth in Human Rights Council resolution 5/1 and resolution 16/21. He has been an ardent anti-Israeli activist for at least three decades, plays a leadership role in groups that advocate against Israel, and participates in political campaigns that use demonizing language against Israelis.

Below is some of the openly available evidence of partisanship that France disregarded — in breach of clear UN resolutions.

Will France’s new peace efforts be impartial and objective on the Israeli-Palestinian dispute in the same manner that their approved candidate Michael Lynk is impartial and objective? If so, how can Israel possibly trust France?

Michael Lynk: In His Own Words

Lynk Cites Nazis to Indict Israelis: Speaking in 2005 at the annual gathering of anti-Israel campaigners organized by the UN’s Division for Palestinian Rights, Lynk cited Nazi war crimes in his call for “legal strategies” to prosecute Israelis. Lynk proposed a strategy to target Israelis in the domestic courts of Australia, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, South Africa, and the United Kingdom. His paper only addressed alleged violations by Israel, while turning a blind eye to war crimes committed by Palestinian, Hezbollah, and Iranian state and non-state actors. “Legal strategies,” said Lynk, “can often form an important part of a broader political and social campaign.”

Lynk Blames 9/11 on the West: Only three days after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks that destroyed the World Trade Center in New York, Lynk pointed the finger not at radical Islamist terrorism, but at Western countries. Although 3,000 innocent victims were killed by Al Qaeda terrorists, Lynk chose to blame “global inequalities” and “disregard by Western nations for the international rule of law.” Lynk attributed blame to Western democracies yet notably omitted direct causes such as the 15 Saudi hijackers, the funding of terrorism by members of the Saudi regime, or the sustained Saudi export of extreme Wahhabist ideology worldwide. While Lynk’s September 14, 2001 statement included a pro forma condemnation of the attacks, he immediately diluted this by an amorphous reference to terrorism “everywhere.” Worse, Lynk qualified his condemnation with a “yet” where he proceeded to blame the West. The 9/11 conspiracy website “911 Blogger” has hosted Lynk statements.

Leadership of Arab & Palestinian Lobby Groups: Lynk is a member of the board of directors of the National Council on Canada-Arab Relations; a member of the advisory board of the “Canadian-Palestinian Education Exchange” (CEPAL), which promotes events like the “4th Annual Israeli Apartheid Week”[1]; and, together with former Arab League representative Clovis Maksoud, Lynk is on the advisory board of Friends of Sabeel North America.

Keynote on Palestinian “Resistance”: Lynk gave the keynote speech at CEPAL’s “International Day of Solidarity with Palestinians,” on November 29, 2001, where he spoke of “popular resistance.”

 Signatory to Anti-Israel Petitions: Lynk signed a 2009 statement condemning Israel for alleged “war crimes” in Gaza together with Christine Chinkin, co-author of the Goldstone Report—an act which Judge Goldstone deemed grounds for her disqualification from the UNHRC commission of inquiry on Gaza. The statement made only a passing reference to Hamas crimes. Lynk also signed the one-sided statement by Richard Falk, entitled “Joint Declaration by International Law Experts on Israel’s Gaza Offensive.” 

Prosecuting Israel is “The Principal Issue”: Lynk said that “the principal issue is to persuade countries, like Canada, France, Australia, England, and other countries that accepted the Rome Statute, to try Israel,” in an interview withIslamOnline.net, where he failed to call for prosecuting any Palestinian leaders for war crimes such as targeting civilians. 

Addressed “One State Solution” Conference Aimed at Dissolving Israel: In March 2009, Lynk participated at a “One State Solution” conference co-sponsored by the “Trans Arab Research Institute.”[2] Six months after Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas rejected the peace offer from Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert that would have created an independent Palestinian state containing all of the Gaza Strip, much of the West Bank plus land swaps, and a tunnel connecting the two areas, Lynk’s “One State” conference issued a statement claiming that “the Israelis continue to extend the two-state solution discourse primarily to pursue sustained confiscation of Palestinian land.” [3]The conference’s stated goal was “an exploration of the one state solution”—thinly veiled language for the elimination of the Jewish state— “as an emergent and increasingly important option for all.”[4]

Lynk’s “Solution” is Undoing Israel’s Creation in 1948: Speaking at a radical conference whose keynote speaker was Hamas supporter Richard Falk, Lynk said, according to a summary, that he “used to think the critical date in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict was 1967, the start of the occupation. Now he thinks the solution to the problem must go back to 1948, the date of partition and the start of ethnic cleansing.”

Tried to Block Jewish National Fund Award for University President: In 2008 Lynk tried yet failed to stop the president of his university, Paul Davenport, from accepting an award from the Jewish National Fund, which advances reforestation and water treatment in Israel, claiming that it “practices institutionalized discrimination.” President Davenport met with Lynk, and rejected his campaign.

Supports “Israel Apartheid Week”: At Western University, Lynk has hosted anti-Israel events and speakers.[5] He has promoted “Israel Apartheid Week.” 

Seeks “Victory” at ICC to “Isolate Israel”: Lynk has called for “a victory at the International Criminal Court” that would “isolate Israel.” In his view, this would in itself “reestablish the importance of universal values.”[6]


[1] See http://www.ngo-monitor.org/reports/canadian_palestinian_educational_exchange_cepal_anti_israel_campaigns_cloaked_in_human_rights_/ .

[2] See http://www.492cafe.org/audio/events/2009_03_25,26-tari-1state/ and http://www.arabichour.org/One-state-Conference.htm.

[3] See http://cafe.comebackalive.com/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=42987 and http://forum.politics.be/archive/index.php?t-117874.html.

[4] Ibid.

[5] See “Davis speaks about human rights” at http://www.usc.uwo.ca/gazette/generate.asp?day=21&month=9&year=2004.

[6] See http://mondoweiss.net/2013/02/settlement-palestinian-international/#sthash.8Og1RG6g.dpuf.

About the Author
Hillel Neuer is executive director of UN Watch, a non-governmental human rights organization in Geneva, Switzerland. An international lawyer, Neuer has been described by the Tribune de Genève as a human rights activist who is “feared and dreaded” by the world’s dictatorships. Israel's Ma’ariv newspaper ranked Neuer as one of the “Top 100 Most Influential Jewish People in the World.” Hillel Neuer is a renowned speaker who has published widely, testified before the United Nations and the U.S. Congress, and appeared on CNN, BBC, and Al Jazeera. On September 14, 2016, the City of Chicago adopted a resolution declaring “Hillel Neuer Day” in recognition of his work as “one of the world’s foremost human rights advocates.” In June 2018, McGill University awarded Neuer with an honorary Doctor of Laws degree, citing his work as “an innovator” in “creating global platforms for courageous dissidents and champions of human rights from around the world,” and for being “a passionate advocate for human rights, fighting tirelessly against discrimination, torture, and injustice."