The 42nd Session of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), held September 9 – 27, continued the bias and hypocrisy that is characteristic of the UN in general and the UNHRC in particular. NGO Monitor was present, speaking before the Council and documenting the numerous false accusations made by self-proclaimed human rights non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

The statements made during the session and side events by officials from NGOs, many of which receive large portions of their funding from European governments, are summarized below, highlighting the false allegations and political warfare.

Item 7

UNHRC Permanent Agenda Item 7 is the only permanent agenda item targeting a single country, namely Israel. Numerous Western countries boycott this agenda item because of the inherent discrimination. At this session, the discussion consisted almost entirely of authoritarian regimes calling for the publication of a UN BDS blacklist of companies allegedly doing business over the 1949 Armistice line and praising the existence of Item 7 on the Council’s agenda.

For instance, Human Rights Watch (HRW) continued to target Israel and lobbying the High Commissioner for Human Rights to publish the discriminatory and illegal BDS blacklist.1 Other European-government funded NGOs promoting BDS that participated in the debate included Al-Haq and the World Council of Churches (WCC).

NGO Side Events

“Gaza 2020 – Uninhabitable”

Date: September 22, 2019

Hosts: Al-Haq, BADIL, PCHR, Al Mezan, Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, and Habitat International Coalition – Housing and Land Rights Network

Speakers and Statements:

  • Rania Muhreb, Al-Haq
    • Called for the International Criminal Court to open an investigation into Israel.
  • Nuriya Oswald, Al Mezan
    • Belittled Israel’s security concerns by ignoring the context of terrorism and the organization by Hamas, the PFLP, and Islamic Jihad of the on-going violent riots and infiltrations on Israel’s border with Gaza beginning in March 2018. Basel Sourani, PCHR (via Skype from Gaza) 2
  • Joseph Schechla, Habitat International Coalition – Housing and Land Rights Network
    • Claimed that “when Israel was established the criteria for a state did not exist” and that the “Zionist movement began building institutions without having a land and a people.”
    • Claimed that “people of the Jewish faith did not consider themselves to be part of a religious group.”
    • Referred to the World Jewish Congress, Mekorot (Israeli water company), and other institutions as “sisters of apartheid.”

“Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory”

Date: September 23, 2019

Hosts: Palestinian Return Centre

Speakers and Statements:

  • Joseph Schechla, Habitat International Coalition – Housing and Land Rights Network
    • Claimed that “Israel is the nation state of the Jewish people forsaking all others.”
    • Claimed that “citizenship is not the basis for rights in Israel it is about being le’om Yehudi” (Jewish nationality).
    • Claimed that only one nationality exists for the enjoyment of economic and social rights.
    • Claimed that “rights belong only to people of Jewish nationality.”
    • Presented the notoriously misleading “disappearing Palestine” maps (see here for why).
  • Pietro Stefanini, Palestinian Return Centre
  • Daniela Donges, Program Coordinator at KURVE Wustrow, Centre for Training and Networking in Nonviolent Action
    • Thanked Schechla for “explaining how the system works.”
  • Salma K. Ayyoub, Barrister and legal consultant for Palestinian human rights organizations (such as Al-Haq)
    • Spoke about “the need to publish the database” and “what the consequences of not releasing the database could be.”
    • Made false claims about the database, including:
      • That it “just provides information.”
      • That “not releasing the database will drive the conflict.”
      • “If you stand in the way of allowing businesses to divest from settlements you stand in the way of human rights…”
      • “Consider the message we are sending to the Palestinian people” (by not publishing)
      • “Suppressing the publication of the database is a precedent that will harm the entire rule based world order.”

“Detention and Displacement”

Date: September 24, 2019

Hosts: Khiam Rehabilitation Center for Victims of Torture

Speakers and Statements:

  • Hussein, Tadamon: International Solidarity with Prisoners (Tadamon does not have Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the UN)
    • Outrageously claimed that Israeli forces tied a Palestinian woman’s hands and feet so that she could not give birth while in prison. It is unclear how this would even be possible. NGO Monitor could not find other instances of this allegation being made.
    • Claimed that Israel killed a Palestinian prisoner on purpose because he had three types of cancer and was left without treatment until he died. In general, prisoners receive medications while in prison, even those not in the Israeli health basket. It is possible that the speaker was referring to Bassem Sayih, imprisoned for murder, who died of complications related to cancer. According to the Israel Prisons Service, Sayih had suffered from “incurable chronic illnesses since he first came into custody in October 2015.” Media reports also note that he died in an Israeli hospital and had been treated during his incarceration.
    • Referred to Israel’s treatment of Palestinian prisoners as “slow killing.”
  • Mustafa Awad, former Palestinian prisoner convicted of membership in a terrorist group. According to an article in Haaretz, Awad was convicted of membership in a terrorist organization (PFLP), forbidden military training, and transferring funds to activists of the PFLP. He was arrested in August 2018 after he attempted to enter Israel via Jordan and was sentenced to one year in prison.
    • Claimed that “no one gets what they want” in prison unless they go on strike.
  • Miriam, Belgian Human Rights Activist
    • Stated that there were articles in the press about Mustafa Awad “treating him as a terrorist” so in Belgium they created a campaign called “Free Mustafa.”
    • Explained that the “Belgian campaign hosted festivals and demonstrations for the appeal to free Mustafa” and in “total paid $15,000 for a lawyer” and “put together 20,000 euros” as part of the solidarity campaign.
    • Claimed that “what Israel is doing with prisoners is a war crime and crime against humanity” and that “there is the ICC and many complaints have already been addressed to this court…we need to do something and demonstrate before the ICC in the Hague.” She added that there will be a demonstration on November 29, 2019.
  • NGO Activist (name unknown)
    • Sympathized with Marwan Barghouti, a Palestinian terrorist leader who was convicted in 2014 of committing three terror attacks, attempted murder, membership in a terror organization, and conspiring to commit a crime.