Craig Hanoch
former United Nations staff, 2005-2022

Secretary-General Guterres, Resign!

Dear Secretary-General Guterres:

When I wrote to you in April following the publication of the blood libel “Anatomy of a Genocide” (A/HRC/55/73) by the ‘Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, Francesca Albanese’, I called upon you to resign. Events since your acceptance of that disgraceful report have greatly increased the urgency of your departure from office.

Israel’s weekend rescue of four hostages held in Gaza by Hamas in the Nuseirat refugee camp illuminates the utter failure of your leadership. While news reports have focused alternately on the courage, planning, and success of the Israeli mission or on Palestinian casualties, too little attention has been paid to the location of the hostages in the midst of an UNRWA-administered position, a case of misconduct crying out for investigation. That UNRWA staff either knew or should have known of the presence of hostages in the camp reminds us yet again of the complicity of UNRWA and your own office in the horrific conflict tearing Israeli and Palestinian communities and families apart., the official website of the United Nations, Sunday reported the rescue of the hostages by focusing on the suffering of Palestinians. While the article includes a call for the release of all hostages, the picture, caption, and lead for the piece all focus on the suffering of the Palestinians. As stated in the article’s lead and included below the bold-faced caption, perversely misrepresenting the IDF’s courageous, well-planned and executed rescue of the four hostages as a ‘release’: “The scenes of devastation witnessed in the aftermath of Israel’s military operation to release [emphasis added] hostages from the Nuseirat refugee camp proves that each day the war continues ‘it only grows more horrific’ the UN’s top humanitarian official said on Sunday.” And the article fails to mention that the Nuseirat refugee camp is administered by UNRWA, an agency that reports directly to the General Assembly but for which your office has responsibility for certain functions, including the investigation of misconduct and, as I note below, standards for the recruitment of personnel.

We should not be surprised by UNRWA’s abandonment of neutrality in the conflict, which ought to have compelled all personnel to refrain from supporting Hamas. Without fanfare, the UN’s Office for Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) has quietly closed investigations into UNRWA staff accused by Israel of participation in the 7 October 2023 massacre, citing the failure of Israel to provide evidence. Having served in the UN for almost 18 years and having had a few encounters with OIOS investigations, I know well that the onus is not on the complainant to provide evidence but on OIOS investigators to pursue leads independently and exhaustively. Indeed, our training as staff members enjoined us to refrain from investigating on our own, lest we poison evidence, influence witnesses, or create further conflict. Israel provided more than ample documentation, well-reported in the press, that UNRWA employees might have been involved in the October pogrom — a day of atrocities your office shamefully blamed on Israel — and properly left the investigation to the United Nations. Yet under your leadership, the victim of the crime, rather than OIOS, is now expected to investigate and provide sufficient evidence to actually charge and condemn malefactors.

I know, too, from my years of work on the recruitment system, Inspira, that criminal background checks are not required for employment. During workshops aimed at expanding Inspira to cover locally-recruited field personnel and contractors, I participated in discussions about the security clearances required for employment, including the verification of criminal records. Recognizing that many states criminalize activities that the United Nations would not condemn, including homosexuality and other matters of personal conscience and identity, political dissent, and petty misdemeanors, those of us responsible for crafting the system recommended the same benefit-of-the-doubt approach given internationally-recruited staff, self-reporting on the application and not regarding a negative response as prohibitive. At the time, the impact of the conflict between Israel and Palestine on potential employment was all-too-clear to us, as many Palestinians had been incarcerated by Israel for rock-throwing or held in so-called administrative detention: we consciously wanted to avoid denying their applications for employment in UNRWA, the UN’s largest agency, and I have little doubt that today many of the 15,000 or more Palestinian staff and non-staff personnel in UNRWA are active members of Hamas or Islamic Jihad. No doubt many of these staff lied about their membership in a terrorist organization on their applications, grounds for immediate termination.

OIOS investigators are surely aware of this intentional deficiency in the recruitment process, just as they are surely aware that Israel is not required to prove the case against the accused workers, only to provide minimal documentation to launch an investigation. That the investigation was suspended can only be regarded as a political decision supported by your office.

I take note, too, that during the recent Security Council session on the hostages, your Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Pramila Patten, did not offer testimony regarding the rape and sexual torture of women and children by Hamas and the many Palestinian ‘non-combatants’ who participated in the 7 October pogrom or in sexual violence against the hostages since that terrible day. How your office could agree to exempt her from facing the tough questions of the Security Council is beyond my comprehension yet speaks again to your lack of empathy for the suffering of Israelis and the Jewish people. Mr. Secretary-General, the hostages might number 120 or so today, but Hamas and their enablers across Palestinian society and globally today hold the entire state of Israel captive, a traumatized nation at war on four borders with Palestinian supporters attacking Israel from the north (Lebanon), the south (Yemen), the east (Iran), and of course the west (Gaza). Every UN department involved in this conflict, including Ms Patten’s office, ought to have been compelled by your office to offer testimony before the Security Council. By not requiring all UN leaders to commit themselves to the relief of Israel from the threat of destruction posed by Hamas and their allies, you have failed to meet your responsibilities to a member state.

With the recent ICJ and ICC decisions that demand an end to Israel’s just defense of its citizens and, worse, that threaten to arrest and prosecute Israeli leaders, the demand of your Special Rapporteur, Francesca Albanese, in her anti-Semitic screed “Anatomy of a Genocide” that Israel and its leaders be punished for a wartime defense she has invalidated has come to fruition. Taking these unprecedented actions along with the double-speak of your office, including such remarks as your own blaming the conflict on Israel, the aforementioned silence of Ms Patten, and the open support for Palestine provided by other senior UN leaders, the UN and its many organizations, agencies, funds, and programs, for which you are either the head or figure-head in the public eye, are now party to the anti-Semitic violence aiming to destroy the State of Israel and to kill Jews wherever we might live.

The recent vote of many states to recognize Palestine despite its failure to meet the minimum requirements for statehood, most especially peaceful relations with its neighbors, speaks yet again to the failure of your leadership and the anti-Semitism that now infects the United Nations. Under your stewardship, the UN has taken additional steps towards the recognition of a state committed to the destruction of its neighbor and to a program of violence against Jews worldwide. Your support for these anti-Semitic actions of the member states in the General Assembly, the ICJ, and the ICC condemn your leadership equally with those who have demonized Israel and the Jewish people.

How different the conflict might look today had you taken a clear stance against anti-Semitism and violence on October 8th and the many months that have followed! Imagine the peace that would now reign had you unequivocally condemned Palestinian violence against Jews, repudiated Hamas’s anti-Semitic charter and program of terror, and condemned the Palestinian Authority for its support of Hamas. Imagine how the conflict could have been resolved had you rejected UNHRC’s libelous report “Anatomy of a Genocide” or had you spoken forcefully against the ICJ and ICC edicts against Israel, instead asserting Israel’s right to defend itself as any other nation would in the face of such violence and so profound an existential threat. And just think about how much different the UN’s own tarnished reputation would stand today as a beacon of justice, righteousness, and hope had you held UNRWA leadership and personnel accountable for their support of anti-Semitic terror and violence.

Mr. Secretary-General, I accuse you today of anti-Semitism, of failing utterly in your responsibilities under the UN Charter, and call upon you to resign your position with immediate effect.

Regretfully yours,
Craig Hanoch, retired staff

About the Author
Craig Hanoch is a retired staff member of the United Nations, having served in the Department of Operational Support as an information management officer in human resources management.