UNESCO Suspension of Jewish Exhibit Exposes One-Sided Policy


“Jews in front of the Wall of Solomon” by Alexandre Bida, 1880.

— by Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch

Days before its opening, under pressure from Arab states, UNESCO suspended a major exhibit at its Paris headquarters on the Jewish people and Israel.

The UNESCO chief, Irina Bokova, justified her cancellation of Monday’s Jewish exhibit by invoking UNESCO’s alleged concern not to endanger the fragile Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations. Yet somehow, this noble principle of caution for peace never stopped UNESCO from excoriating Israel incessantly.

Since 2009, UN Watch has counted no less than 46 UNESCO resolutions against Israel, one on Syria, and zero on Iran, North Korea, Sudan or any other country in the world.

This malicious treatment is especially tragic because UNESCO was founded after World War II with the express purpose of combating the doctrine of the inequality of men and races. Today, as sadly, it has become a serial perpetrator of inequality.

Cartoons after the jump.

Cartoons courtesy of The Cartoon Kronicles.

UN Corruption in 2013: Top 10 Worst Decisions


UN interpreter caught saying 9 resolutions on Israel are “too much.”

— by Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch

When the U.N. gives credit to oppressive regimes, millions of human rights victims pay the price.

2014 begins tomorrow with China, Cuba, Russia and Saudi Arabia taking their new seats on the U.N. Human Rights Council.

Instead of elevating and legitimizing dictatorships, the U.N. should be advocating for the release of their political prisoners.

After the jump: Blaming the U.S. and Israel for the Boston Marathon bombings, questionable appointments of Iran and Syria, and blaming Israel for most of the world’s troubles in the top-10 worst decisions list.

  1. UNESCO — which has condemned no other country but Israel, and which was silent as Hamas bulldozed a world heritage site to make a terrorist training campallowed Syria to sit as a judge on UNESCO’s human rights committee.
  2. The U.N. chose Zimbabwe, a regime that systematically violates human rights, to host its world tourism summit.

    UN human rights expert, Richard Falk.
  3. The U.N. Human Rights Council elected slave-holding Mauritania to be its vice-president.
  4. The U.N. Economic and Social Council, which oversees the U.N. women’s rights commission, elected genocidal Sudan as its vice-president.  
  5. The U.N. Conference on Disarmament last May made Iran its president.  
  6. The U.N. Special Committee on Decolonization, charged with upholding fundamental human rights and opposing the subjugation of peoples, elected the murderous Syrian regime to a senior post.
  7. U.N. human rights expert Richard Falk blamed the Boston Marathon terror bombings on “the American global domination project” and “Tel Aviv.”
  8. The U.N. General Assembly elected China, Cuba, Russia, and Saudi Arabia to the U.N. Human Rights Council. The dictatorships will take their new seats on January 1, 2014.
  9. The same U.N. General Assembly adopted 21 condemnatory resolutions against Israel, compared to 4 on the rest of the world combined.
  10. The U.N. Human Rights Council elected Hezbollah supporter Jean Ziegler, founder and recipient of the Muammar Qaddafi Human Rights Prize, as a top adviser.

Milestone Victory Against Bigotry

— by Hillel Neuer

After decades of being excluded from all of the UN Human Rights Council’s regional groups in Geneva, Israel will be formally invited to join the Western group on Monday.  This is a historic, milestone victory for the cause of equality, a memorable step forward in the long struggle ahead against injustice at the United Nations. UN Watch salutes Israel on its diplomatic achievement, and expresses special gratitude to Canada, the UK, France, Germany and the US for playing a key role in ending one form of bias within the pattern and practice of anti-Israel prejudice at the UN.

More after the jump.
For two decades UN Watch fought publicly and privately to overturn the blatantly discriminatory practice whereby the Jewish state was segregated -— in direct violation of the UN Charter’s equality guarantee — into a category of its own, the only nation excluded from a regional group. It’s gratifying to see this victory today.  Contrary to several news reports, admission to WEOG in Geneva is unrelated to membership on the 47-nation council. And regrettably it will not detract from the Arab states’ continued ability to target Israel in resolutions, urgent sessions and a special agenda item.  Rather, WEOG admission will allow Israel to participate together with all 192 other UN member states in receiving regular briefings, and to have its small say in the selection of council investigators, known as special rapporteurs. More than anything, what regional group admission means for Israel is a sign of equal treatment — the removal of a symbol of bigotry and of an ugly stain upon the reputation of the UN.

Hillel Neuer is the executive director of UN Watch.  UN Watch is a Geneva-based human rights organization founded in 1993 to monitor UN compliance with the principles of its Charter.

Time for U.N. to Remove Notorious Agenda Item on Israel

— by Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch

Israel has decided to return to the U.N. Human Rights Council (HRC) — a 47-nation body that in two weeks will welcome back China, Cuba, Russia and Saudi Arabia as members — in time for a scheduled review of the Jewish state’s record this Tuesday.

Now is the time for the council to show good faith on its part — starting with the removal of its notorious agenda item on Israel, the only provision of its kind focusing on a specific country at every meeting. Not even gross abusers like China, Sudan, or Syria, nor any other country in the world, is subjected to this kind of treatment.

The Israel-only agenda was criticized by the U.N. secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, upon its adoption in June 2007. Mr. Ban “voiced disappointment at the Council decision to single out Israel as the only specific regional item on its agenda, given the range and scope of allegations of human rights violations throughout the world.”

More after the jump.


Courtesy of Yaakov “Dry Bones” Kirschen.

Under that item, in its last session in March, the Council adopted six resolutions condemning Israel, and only four on the rest of the world combined: one each on Syria, Iran, Myanmar and Sri Lanka. The plight of the vast majority of the world’s victims of gross and systematic violations — from China to Saudi Arabia, Cuba to Zimbabwe — failed to merit a single resolution.

Israel is the only U.N. member state excluded from the regional group system at the council. European Union states should immediately enable Israel to join the Council’s Western group, to which it was admitted at the U.N. in New York over a decade ago, and end this violation of basic equality and due process.

Moreover, the Council’s permanent investigator on Israeli violations is mandated by the Council to examine only Israel, and not Hamas, Fatah, Islamic Jihad, or any other Palestinian actor. It is the only country mandate that examines the actions of only one side, and presumes them to be violations.

The one they chose for the job, Richard Falk — who reports to the General Assembly in New York on Tuesday, on the same day as Israel is scrutinized by the HRC in Geneva — endorses Hamas, praises 9/11 conspiracy theorists, and was just condemned two weeks ago by Ban, the U.S., the U.K. and Canada, for implying the Boston attacks were somehow the fault of the U.S. and Israel.

The U.N. must stop violating its own charter guarantee to respect the equal rights of nations large and small, and the HRC must respect its own principles of universality, impartiality, objectivity and non-selectivity.

Quotes and key facts on HRC treatment of Israel:

  • U.N. secretary general, Kofi Annan, said on 25 March 1998:

    Israel [is] the only Member State that is not a member of one of the regional groups… This anomaly should be corrected. We must uphold the principle of equality among all United Nations Member States.

  • On 12 December 1999, Anan remarked:

    The exclusion of Israel from the system of regional groupings [and] the intense focus given to some of Israel’s actions, while other situations sometimes fail to elicit the similar outrage… have given a regrettable impression of bias and one-sidedness.

  • In regard to Israel’s exclusion from a regional group, Anan said that “we must uphold the principle of equality among Member States. I shall keep encouraging all concerned to find a solution.”
  • The late U.N. high commissioner for human rights, Sergio de Mello, actively lobbied ambassadors in Geneva for the inclusion of Israel into the Western group.
  • On 15 March 2005, Anan spoke of the “need to correct a long-standing anomaly that kept Israel from participating fully and equally in the work of the Organization” by including Israel as member of the Western European and Others Group in Geneva.
  • Sir Robert Jennings, QC, former president of the International Court of Justice, wrote:

    Israel’s exclusion from the regional group system places the UN in breach of its fundamental obligations regarding sovereign equality and is thus illegal… The need now to redress it is urgent.

  • On 20 June 2007, the U.N. secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, criticized “the Council decision to single out Israel as the only specific regional item on its agenda, given the range and scope of allegations of human rights violations throughout the world.”

UN in the Dock at UPenn

— by Lori Lowenthal Marcus

New York City wasn’t the only place in which the treatment of Israel at the United Nations was under discussion recently.

On Sunday evening, September 25, 2011, Penn Friends of Israel and the International Affairs Association hosted Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, at Houston Hall on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania.

UN Watch is a non-governmental organization the goal of which is to measure the performance of the UN according to its founding mission. Neuer’s topic was, “From Eleanor Roosevelt to Qaddafi: An Insider’s Account of the Rise and Fall of Human Rights at the U.N.”

More after the jump.
Neuer spoke to a packed crowd for well over an hour, during which time he discussed various venues and events at the UN which are perceived by many as biased against Israel. Neuer discussed the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), the Durban Conference on Racism — from which UN Watch was barred — and the recent effort of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to evade negotiations with Israel and instead obtain Palestinian Statehood through the United Nations itself.

Repeatedly critical of certain aspects of the UN, stating that “one dictator, one vote” is often what passes as democracy at the United Nations, and that far too often the only expertise regarding human rights for member nations that sit on the UNHRC is their violations of it, Neuer seemed to surprise at least some members of the audience when he rejected the suggestion that perhaps it was time to do away with the global institution. “It is an indispensable forum,” because at least portions of it such as “the World Health Organization, international labor organizations, food groups, telecommunications,” are essential. “Even such critics as [President] Bush and [former US Ambassador to the UN John] Bolton, didn’t speak in terms of getting rid of the UN.”

Nevertheless, the bulk of Neuer’s talk was devoted to detailing the highly politicized and virulently anti-Israel theme at play throughout much of the United Nations. Of particular concern is what is now known as the Human Rights Council, formerly the Human Rights Commission, but according to Neuer by either name the body is nearly always run, and invariably dominated by the “greatest perpetrators of human rights abuses.” Neuer noted over the course of the past two years, China, Pakistan, Syria, Libya and Saudi Arabia have all held a seat on the UNHRC. And while the world’s worst human rights abuses have often gone ignored, “a disproportionate amount of time is spent singling out one member state for criticism, and that state is Israel” he said.

Neuer gave many examples of the ways in which, in the distorted world of the UNHRC, Israel is frequently presented as the grossest violator of human rights. For example, over the past five years, the Council has passed approximately sixty resolutions condemning a nation for committing human rights violations, forty of which have been directed at Israel. He pointed out that over the past six months more than 2500 Syrians have been massacred by their own government, yet Syria has not received a single rebuke from the UNHRC [between the time of Neuer’s talk and publication, the UN Security Council was presented with a condemnation of Syria’s brutal crackdown on pro-reform protesters, but it was vetoed by Russia and China]. Furthermore, the UNHRC has a standard agenda of ten general action items, one of which is always reserved for “addressing human rights violations against those in the occupied territories,” i.e., condemning Israel.

Another example of the way in which Israel is singled out unfairly at the UN is in the fact that while all countries in the world are divided into regional groups, Israel is barred from membership in the Asian group of which it should be a member, because the Arab nation members refuse to allow it. Yet one more example, amongst several others he gave, is that over the past five years the UNHRC has met in approximately a dozen emergency sessions, half of which were devoted to excoriating Israel. And the basis for those condemnations often ignored the context as, for instance, when Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit was abducted in June, 2006, Israel responded with military reprisals, yet only Israel’s actions were condemned, not that of Hamas in abducting the soldier. The Iranian clampdown on non-violent protesters of the Green Revolution of 2011 was never condemned, nor was the brutal government repression of Muslim Uighurs, only efforts by Israel, which efforts were motivated by aggression on the part of its enemy, has been addressed by the UNHRC.

Moving on to the UN General Assembly, Neuer explained that the effort of PA President Abbas to attain statehood through a resolution in the UN is likely to be approved, given that the combined Arab and Muslim Nations have an automatic majority in the GA. But Neuer believes there will not be a significant substantive change if the PA is elevated to non-voting member state status. It already has a contingent present at the UN, it has a place at a table, albeit towards the back of the room, and it has the name “Palestine” already displayed on a nameplate where its representatives are seated. The one area in which the change may have some bearing will be in the PA’s ability to engage, and have others engage on its behalf, in lawfare against the Jewish State.

Elias Okwara, a 23-year old Drexel Junior from Kenya, spent part of last summer in Jordan, as part of his school’s Peace Studies Program. Okwara is in Drexel’s International Area Studies program with a concentration in Justice and Human Rights, and his research focuses on contemporary approaches to international peace and security.

Okwara embraces the global model of the UN, and he had been told that the talk was going to be an anti-UN event. During the brief question and answer session, Okwara asked Neuer about the Goldstone Report, which was the outcome of a UN investigation into Israel’s incursion into Gaza known as Operation Cast Lead. The Report, written by South African jurist Richard Goldstone, “excoriated Israel and exonerated Hamas,” according to Neuer. It accused Israeli leadership of intentionally targeting civilians.

One of the other members of the investigation, Christine Chinkin, prior to her being appointed had signed a letter to the London Times accusing Israel of war crimes. Goldstone himself later recanted much of the most damaging portions of the report, but the UN considers the Goldstone Report, as written, to represent its official view of Cast Lead.

Despite hearing clear criticism of the UN by Neuer, Okwara said that it was “founded on very specific and detailed information, and I could not help but seriously reflect on the issues he raised.”

Okwara was glad he came because despite his own work in the field, he found Neuer’s talk to be “enlightening.” Okwara added, “I am a scholar and a keen believer in the UN, and for a person like me intent on playing my part in the international arena, I have no room to be dogmatic.”

Penn Friends of Israel is a new initiative that was created at the end of the last academic year in response to a perceived need for a group that wasn’t at one end of the spectrum or the other, but rather for a “group in the middle that could bring voices together from across the spectrum.” Noah Feit, president of the student group, started it along with sophomore Jeff Rollman. Feit, a StandWithUs Emerson Fellow, said he was very pleased with the event, both with the size of the audience and its makeup.

“The audience contained those interested in Israel, those passionate about international affairs, local community members, and students from other Philadelphia campuses. One of PFI’s primary goals is to reach beyond the pro-Israel community and to influence opinion by providing accurate information.”

Feit and his colleagues seem to have achieved their goal.