In a rare move, the UN body on racism yesterday posed tough questions to the Palestinian representative about its government’s promotion of anti-Jewish hate, echoing an earlier briefing to committee members by NGO Monitor and IMPACT-se.
The UN’s Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) convened this week in its 99th session for the first review of the Palestinian Authority’s compliance with the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.
As part of its engagement with UN institutions, NGO Monitor President Professor Gerald Steinberg, together with Marcus Sheff, CEO of IMPACT-se, attended the Committee in Geneva, where they briefed the committee experts on the Palestinian Authority’s promotion of antisemitism and incitement to violence. Their presentation was referenced by the committee members in their questions to the Palestinian representative. In addition to oral statements, NGO Monitor and IMPACT-se had also presented the committee with written submissions.
Committee member Silva Albuquerque questioned the Palestinians on “disturbing information about the presence of antisemitic and discriminatory contents in textbooks used by children and teenagers in Palestinian schools” which he had learned at the “very enlightening meeting” with NGO Monitor and IMPACT-se.
Albuquerque added that “various examples of allegedly racist and antisemitic language, content and textbooks, until 2018 at least, were provided to our committee” by the organizations. Similar comments were made by other committee members.
While UN meetings related to the Arab-Israeli conflict, especially those critical of Israel, commonly draw dozens of NGOs, this examination of the Palestinian Authority’s conduct was only attended by NGO Monitor and two other groups.
NGO Monitor’s ECOSOC special consultative status with the UN allows it to regularly present findings on the misuse and abuse of UN frameworks for anti-peace initiatives, including frequent UN silence on or support of antisemitic programming. The Jerusalem-based research institute has spoken 11 times before the UN’s Geneva-based Human Rights Council since the beginning of 2019.
Research and policy institute IMPACt-se analyzes educational textbooks and how they measure up to UNESCO standards for acceptance, peace, and tolerance.
NGO Monitor President Professor Gerald Steinberg stated that “The important point is that in the UN, the Palestinians are being forced to deal with their own antisemitism, including in their textbooks. And unlike the usual procedures in the Human Rights Council, members of this expert committee listened to the presentations from NGO Monitor and Impact-SE and challenged the Palestinians. This is a major precedent.”
IMPACT-se CEO Marcus Sheff added that “The contradiction between the Palestinian submission, which claims to adhere to anti-racism, and the blatant antisemitism, hate and extremism in the PA curriculum, was not lost on the committee. Members rightly questioned the PA representatives on the examples shown to them by IMPACT-se. It is clearly pointless to deny the textbook hate. There it was, in black and white.”