Promotion of Apartheid Rhetoric and BDS at the UNHRC 50th Session
The 50th Session of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), held in June 2022, perpetuated the bias and hypocrisy that has come to define the UNHRC specifically and the United Nations in general. NGO Monitor was present, speaking before the Council and documenting the false accusations made by self-proclaimed human rights non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
Several statements made during the session by NGO officials, many of which receive large portions of their funding from European governments, promoted the apartheid canard and advocated for BDS.
Item 2: Commission of Inquiry
In May 2021, the UNHRC established a permanent Commission of Inquiry (COI) tasked to “investigate” crimes allegedly committed by Israel since April 13, 2021. Fuelled by disinformation provided by NGOs, the COI is yet another UN body marred by secrecy and tainted by conflicts of interest, whose objective is to target Israel and disseminate false and antisemitic narratives about the conflict.
On June 14, the COI presented its first report to the UNHRC, perpetuating outright falsehoods and relying on information provided by terror-linked and anti-Israel NGOs.
During the debate, the Commissioners, who were appointed despite conflicts of interest and prejudicial backgrounds, made statements illustrating these biases. Navi Pillay, Chair of the COI, used her opening remarks to call for boycotting the State of Israel, claiming that the COI “will carefully assess the responsibilities of third states along with that of private and other actors in the continued violations and abuses of human rights law, and violations of international humanitarian law in Palestine and Israel. This includes, but is not limited to, the transfer of arms…” to Israel.
Commissioner Chris Sidoti attacked those who raised the concern of antisemitism, calling their statements an “outrage,” denigrating the IHRA definition internationally- recognized consensus definition of antisemitism, and accusing pro-Israel NGOs of being agents of the Israeli government: Even the definition of antisemitism promoted by the government of Israel and its GONGOs (government sponsored non-governmental organizations) acknowledges that criticism of Israel, similar to that leveled against any other country, cannot be regarded as antisemitic.” Rather than engage with Jewish and Israeli groups who expressed concern of antisemitism to try and understand, Sidoti instead belittled them, stating that “accusations of antisemitism are thrown around like rice at a wedding. That legitimizes antisemitism. Trivializes antisemitism. Defiles the memory of the 6 million victims of the Shoah.”
The third Commissioner, Miloon Kothari, drew false equivalencies between Russia/Ukraine and Israel. Kothari addressed the alleged “double standards,” affirming that “The question needs to be asked why in the case of Ukraine the international community is rightly appalled in the face of aggression and occupation and has correctly moved to act swiftly and forcefully to ensure compliance with international law, while in the case of Israel and Palestine there has been inaction for decades. Are these glaring double standards? The answer has to be yes.”
Following the presentation of the report, several NGOs used the Council as a platform to promote demonization and hypocrisy. Many of these NGOs also promoted artificial and manufactured definitions of apartheid to extend the ongoing campaigns that seek to delegitimize and demonize Israel. (Read NGO Monitor’s Policy Paper “False Knowledge as Power: Deconstructing Definitions of Apartheid that Delegitimise the Jewish State.”)
- “Israel’s chronic impunity for its gross violation of international law, some of which amounting to war crimes and the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution, shows that Palestinians are treated as second-class victims.”
- “We invite the Commission to further pursue their mandate by investigating the settler-colonial nature of the Israeli occupation and Israel’s system of racial discrimination, domination, and oppression against the Palestinian people, which meets the definition of apartheid under international law.”
- “The Commission must analyze the situation in light of Israel’s system of apartheid, Zionist settler-colonialism, population transfer and continued dispossession inflicted upon the Palestinian people as a whole, including refugees and exiles denied the right to return to their homes, lands and properties.”
- “Without such a mandate, the Council will remain blindsided to the continuity of the discriminatory and racist underpinnings of Israel’s settler colonisation and apartheid since 1948, which has cost so much in human and diplomatic resources while failing to achieve any accountability or remedy. “
- “The scale and seriousness of the violations [which we continue to document] in Israel and the OPT make it clear that the international community needs to urgently and drastically change its approach to international law in the region, and recognize the reality on the ground as that of a system and crime against humanity of apartheid.”
Defence for Children International – Palestine (DCI-P)
- “We strongly urge all member states…[to] Take urgent action to ensure accountability for violations by supporting efforts by the International Criminal Court to hold perpetrators accountable and by carrying out obligations under the Geneva Conventions or Rome Statute to exercise criminal jurisdiction and arrest persons alleged to have committed, or who ordered to have committed, the international crimes described in the Commission’s report.”
Human Rights Watch
- “The root causes of recurrent tensions, including the occupation and the Israeli government’s policies and practices that result in apartheid and persecution, are ongoing, which is why an ongoing mandate is needed.”
- “As more and more voices recognize the reality of apartheid for millions of Palestinians, the choice for states is clear: bury your head in the sand and fail to uniformly defend international law and human rights, undermining your credibility in advocating for those same principles in other contexts, or recognize reality for what it is and take action to dismantle apartheid.”
Independent Commission for Human Rights
- “The findings confirm that the root causes of the conflict lay out in the illegal Israeli occupation and its discriminatory practices against the Palestinians represented in the entrenched apartheid system. Israel upholds a system of settler colonialism and apartheid to separate Palestinians from their land, in addition to their own communities in an attempt to permanently displace them.”
Medical Aid for Palestinians
- “We call on this Commission, and members of this Council, to recognise that persistent impunity for serious violations of international humanitarian law embolden their grave perpetuation and is a root cause of chronic humanitarian needs in Gaza.”
Organization for Defending Victims of Violence
- “Perpetration of racial discrimination, ethnic cleansing, forced displacement, house demolition and field killings that have claimed the lives of 64 Palestinians since the beginning of the year, one third of them being children and women, including assassination of journalist Shereen Abu Aqleh continue in the OPT and “credible evidence” shows that “Israel has no intention of ending the occupation.”
- “The time has come for the international community to stop silence and the failure to activate accountability mechanisms and seriously boycott Israel to prevent it from continuing crimes against civilians and civilian objects in occupied Palestine.”
Item 3: Interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences
Women’s Centre for Legal Aid and Counseling (WCLAC)
- “Israeli settler-colonial and apartheid policies such as but not limited to ethnic cleansing, the forced displacement of Palestinians, land and natural resource theft, collective punishment and arbitrary detention adhere gender-based violence as a necessary tool to sustain its unjust presence.”
- “It is of the highest degrees of absurdity to attempt to dissect the patriarchal issues that Palestinian women face without addressing the apartheid war-machine that prevents its civil society from independently prospering.”
- “On a systematic level, Israel uses Palestinian agricultural lands, those which have not yet been ethnically cleansed for illegal settlements, as a dumping ground for solid and industrial sewage as well as military-training waste.”