David Breakstone
Deputy Chairman of the Jewish Agency executive

Yes, there is something you can do

Express your outrage over the anti-Israel bias of the United Nations Human Rights Council by attending a virtual rally in Geneva where hundreds will be demonstrating against the prejudicial singling out of Israel for condemnation.

In its nine years of existence, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) has passed more resolutions castigating Israel than the entire rest of the world combined: 62 denouncing the one thriving democracy in the Middle East and 55 reproving the entirety of the 192 other member states of the United Nations. Five more anti-Israel resolutions are being brought to a vote in Geneva this week. They are spread over an astonishing 28 pages of venomous diatribe against Israel, laden with lies and motivated by malice. Read them. You will shudder in disbelief.

There is nothing we can do to prevent their passage, but there are things we can do to draw the world’s attention to the blatant hypocrisy of those who have the audacity to claim they are concerned with advancing human rights while ignominiously ignoring the flagrant abuses of those rights throughout the Arab world and in despotic nations everywhere. But first some background.

There are ten permanent items on the agenda of the UNHRC discussed at each of its three annual meetings. Nine of them deal with issues that are continuously relevant and everywhere pertinent, things such as safeguarding civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights and examining instances of racism, discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance.

One of them, and only one of them, deals with a specific population. It is Item #7, dedicated to, in their words, not mine, “the human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories.”

Let me be clear. I have no objection to scrutinizing the Israeli government’s human rights record regarding all those living under its jurisdiction. I do have an objection to the United Nations singling out one nation for investigation. Furthermore, I object strenuously to the official directive guiding that investigation, unabashedly prejudicial in its mandate: “To investigate Israel’s violations of the principles and bases of international law, humanitarian law and the Geneva convention.” The presumed guilt on the part of Israel evident in the wording of these instructions, and the exclusion of the Palestinian Authority, Hamas and the Islamic Jihad from any inspection whatsoever are not only grossly unfair; they also mean that a major cause of the real suffering of the Palestinian people will continue to go unaddressed. The Palestinian leadership that incites violence, oppresses its own people, uses international funds to procure weapons and build attack tunnels instead of providing the social services and building the hospitals and schools for which those funds were given, is exonerated from violating the human rights of its people without even so much as a cursory review of its policies and deeds. And things are about to get worse.

The Human Rights Council will this week be appointing a Special Rapporteur, to be charged for the next six years with overseeing the investigation required by the scandalous Item #7. The recommendation regarding the nominees for this post makes a mockery of the entire proceedings. The top two contenders each have a long and well-documented history of virulent anti-Israel bias, calling for its elimination as a Jewish state, advocating for BDS, and unabashedly accusing it of being an apartheid regime guilty of conducting ethnic cleansing and criminal state practices. It’s laughable, but the UNHRC’s own guidelines insist that the post be filled by someone impartial. Parliamentarians and government officials in the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada have already expressed their outrage over these nominations. Leaders around the world need to do the same and there is a way for you to encourage them to do that.

You can also demonstrate your disdain for the hypocrisy of the UNHRC by joining a virtual rally in support of those of us who will be protesting outside the Council’s meetings and participate in the live streaming of the event on Monday, March 21 at 1:00 pm in Geneva.
Together we can restore some dignity, integrity and credibility to the UNHRC and prod it into fulfilling the lofty purpose for which it was established. Israel will be well served. The legitimate needs of the Palestinian people will be addressed. And citizens of the world everywhere whose human rights are being trampled will be given a measure of hope.

Together we need call on the United Nations Human Rights Commission to remove Item #7 from its agenda, and encourage defenders of human rights everywhere to demand that it do so.

Together we need proclaim NO to singling out Israel for condemnation, NO to absolving the Palestinian leadership of responsibility for the suffering of its people, and NO to the appointment of biased investigators.

And together we need proclaim YES to equality for all people and all peoples irrespective of race, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or nationality, YES to holding governments accountable for safeguarding the human rights of those under their jurisdiction, and YES to impartiality, fairness, and insistence on upholding the highest moral standards in the proceedings of the UNHRC.

The demonstration taking place in Geneva is being organized by the World Zionist Organization, the Israel Allies Foundation, StandWithUs, the European Union of Jewish Students, and the Swiss-Israel Friendship Association. Much of the information cited in this article has been culled from the website of UN Watch.

About the Author
Dr. David Breakstone is deputy chairman of the executive of The Jewish Agency for Israel and the conceptual architect and founding director of the Herzl Museum and Educational Center in Jerusalem. He also serves as a member of the executives of the World Zionist Organization, Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael (JNF) and Keren Hayesod. The opinions expressed herein are entirely his own.