How dare the Times of Israel print Francesca Albanese’s actual words. Who do they think they are, accusing a UN Rapporteur of saying Israel ‘can’t claim’ self-defense after deadly terror?
Good journalists. That’s who they are.
On Friday, Palestinian terrorists murdered Israeli/British teens Rina and Maia Dee in the Jordan Valley and fatally wounded their mother, Lucy Dee. The gruesome details read more like a cold-blooded mob execution than a murder. The same day, an Arab Israeli rammed his car into a Tel Aviv crowd, killing Italian tourist Alessandro Parini and wounding seven others.
In response to these and other incidents, European Union Foreign Minister Josep Borrell issued a statement condemning these and other acts of terror like the rocket fire from Gaza and Lebanon. Borrell also condemned “the violent incidents which have happened in the Holy Sites and reminds that the status quo of all the Holy Sites must be preserved.” Importantly for our story, the EU’s top diplomat recognized that “Israel has the right to defend itself.”
The UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967 disagreed. Francesca Albanese linked to Borrell’s statement, but insisted that Israel’s right to self-defense can’t be claimed “when it comes to the people it oppresses/whose lands it colonizes.” In short, Israel has no right to self-defense “when it comes to [Palestinians].”
Rational readers understand that this tweet is incitement from a UN official. In the midst of high tensions, it fans the flames by telling Palestinians in Albanese’s audience that they have a right to violent resistance against Israel. How else should they interpret a denial of Israel’s right to self-defense against “oppresse[d]” and “colonize[d]” assailants unless it comes from a right to violent resistance?
Yet the Times of Israel did not share this logical conclusion. Instead, it simply quoted Albanese’s words and printed an accurate summary of her statement. Albanese responded in a Twitter thread by gaslighting the Times of Israel and rational readers. She alleges that her words were “misrepresent[ed] and decontextualiz[ed].” She further insists that “self-defense can’t be used as a blanket claim [for] repression.” This last claim is true enough, but it is a significant redrafting of the black and white incitement she tweeted.
Playing the victim card is nothing new for Rapporteur Albanese. Last December, the Times of Israel uncovered that Francesca Albanese had a history of antisemitic remarks that she failed to disclose when applying to be UN Rapporteur. In 2014, she posted on Facebook that America is “subjugated by the Jewish lobby” and that Europe is subjugated “by the sense of guilt about the Holocaust”. Another post said, “[t]he Israeli lobby is clearly inside [the BBC’s] veins…”
Francesca Albanese was roundly condemned for this antisemitism by the US, by antisemitism monitor Deborah Lipstadt, by members of the European Parliament, and by others. She called this little more than a “politically-motivated attack”. Rather than own up to her antisemitism and well-documented bias violating UN rules, Albanese played like she was the victim of a nefarious smear campaign.
Such accusations of a smear campaign would be a little easier to believe if she didn’t repeatedly use antisemitic tropes, express a desire to remove Hamas’s terror designation, or defend antisemitic peers. (Those antisemitic peers include Miloon Kothari, a member of the UN Human Rights Council’s anti-Israel ‘Commission of Inquiry’ who said social media is “controlled largely by the Jewish Lobby” and fawning praise for world-renowned antisemite Richard Falk.) But she repeatedly does all that and more.
For the same reasons, no one should believe her new attempt to play the victim.
The facts are plain. On Saturday, Francesca Albanese tweeted that “Israel… can’t claim [a right to self-defense] when it comes to [Palestinians].” There is no other way to interpret her clear language inciting violence during this “tumultuous and painful time.” Playing the victim card because the Times of Israel reported on the facts is not new for her. She has flaunted UN bias rules and has a well recorded history of antisemitism.
The UN Human Rights Council, High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk, and Secretary General António Guterres have a renewed responsibility to censure Francesca Albanese. It is past time they end a UN tenure that only serves to further tarnish the UN human rights system. Let’s hope they finally act.